Daily Archives: November 16, 2013

Sweet Autumn Clematis and the benefits of mulching in the Winter.

There are a few plants which require a hard annual pruning to be at their best. Sweet Autumn clematis is one of those that is best when severely pruned each Fall. Otherwise, they grow into a tangled mess and reseed throughout the garden.

I have several around the garden thanks to the habit of reseeding. They have an unusual growth habit in that they grow throughout the Winter and by Spring can nearly cover structures such as the lamp-post. The one below I have posted several pictures in bloom before. They begin blooming in late August with very sweet-scented small white flowers.

Below, I had removed the huge mass off the top of the lamp. It was so heavy and thick it had warped the top of the plastic lamp and no light was comming through. I left a few stems to become the main vines for the coming season.

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After the month or so of flowering in August and September, these fluffy, white seeds form.

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Once the vines grow a few feet of new growth I will begin to train them around the post and each other. The vines have no tendrils but use their three lobed leaves to twist around and hold on to structures while climbing.

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This is a seedling which came up near the porch over the Summer. The seedlings have an unusual silver streak over the center vein of each leaflet.

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After raking the leaves from the oaks and sweet gums, I mulched the front beds. These leaves will decompose over the Winter. In the Spring I will pull the leaves back away from the hydrangea, perennials, and other plants in this bed to allow the new growth in Spring more exposure to the sun. Mulching not only keeps the grown moist during the Winter to prevent the roots from drying but also prevents the plants from heaving out of the ground during the freezing and thawing cycles. Heaving can be a problem where the ground freezes at night but the daytime temperatures are well above freezing like they are here in the Piedmont region on North Carolina. Moisture in the ground freezes and expands, pushing the plant up and out of the soil. The roots dry out and die. The mulch helps the soil to maintain a more even temperature.

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During the hot, dry Summers, the mulch helps the soil retain moisture and prevent weeds. The soil here has a high clay content and the organic matter will improve drainage, too.

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Most of the oak leaves have fallen and because it is usually the last tree to drop leaves, I may only have to rake a few times until Spring just to keep things clean and neat.

Soon the Hellebores and Witch hazels will be blooming!

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