Posted by: marymarthatours | June 18, 2012

Talking about Clematis on the “Yard and Garden Show”


Sugar Candy Clematis

Every Friday morning during the growing season, I have the fun opportunity to chat about gardening on KNXR-FM radio here in Rochester, MN. During the 15 or so minutes of the “Yard and Garden Show”, the local Emcee, Jim Brunnette and I talk about whatever topic I have picked for the day.

Although it would be possible to do the show by phone, I have always gone into the studio. This works well because Jim and I can have a spontaneous conversation as though we are talking only to each other rather than to an audience. I think the listeners like to hear us kidding each other and laughing at funny comments that seem to blurt out.


Jim and Mary at the KNXR studio

On the first Friday of the month, I usually talk about what to do in the garden and in the yard that month. Other weeks, I sometimes choose a landscaping topic, e.g., decks, patios, paths, planting trees, etc. In the spring and early fall, the conversation is often about lawns, an especially good subject for Jim, because he’s always looking for help for his grass. Frequently, I’ll focus on a narrower theme, such as a particular plant or garden project.

Last Friday, I talked about clematis. It was the perfect time to choose this subject. The clematis in my yard have looked great thus far, and I had just purchased two new ones at my favorite clematis source, Donahue’s Greenhouse in Faribault, MN. Donahue’s is a huge wholesale grower of clematis, and their greenhouse is packed with clematis, annuals, hanging baskets, and color. I need to get there several times each spring for my flower “fix”.

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Some scenes from Donahue’s, 2012

Of course, Jim and I started off by kidding each other about the correct pronunciation of “clematis”. We agreed that for us “cla-mat’-us” works best, but I know there are folks out there who swear by “klem’-a-tis”.

However you pronounce it, I think clematis are great plants. They give height to a garden, whether they are planted on a trellis, a pergola, a fence, or even climbing up a tree. In my own yard, I have ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Elsa Spath’, ‘Ville de Lyon’, and ‘Silver Moon’ on trellises made from lathe covered with chicken wire. ‘Sugar Candy’ and ‘Roguchi’ are climbing a deck post. ‘Duchess of Albany’ fills one side of the pergola; ‘Princess Diana’ is struggling a bit on the other side; and ‘Clair de Lune’ fills the space between pergola and fence. And come September, ‘Sweet Autumn’ will flow over the fence beside the patio.

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Nelly Moser on a trellis, Sugar Candy on the deckpost, and Duchess of Albany on the pergola

I was thrilled when I discovered that there are even varieties of clematis that do well in shade or part-shade. Several years ago I purchased ‘Silver Moon’ for some dappled shade along the back fence and “Clair de Lune” for a shady corner of the pergola near my patio. I was especially delighted with the display of ‘Clair de Lune’ this year, the best ever.


And then disaster, in the shape of a baby bunny, struck. I went out one morning, and ‘Claire’ was totally wilted. I found that the rabbit had bitten through every one of its stems at the ground. That prompted three actions:

  • Set the live-trap and transported two bunnies to a lovely new home.
  • Took another trip to Donahue’s for a replacement, and
  • Stopped at the hardware store for hardware cloth to make clematis cages to keep the bunnies OUT.

As I write, ‘Duchess of Albany’ is just coming into full flower. I’ll be enjoying the lush foliage and dainty dark pink blooms for much of the summer. And when we get back from the September England in Miniature Tour, ‘Sweet Autumn’ should be flowering like crazy. I love clematis.

(by Mary)



  1. Last July when we visited the Wallaces, I joined Mary for one radio broadcast. Jim asked me about Western Washington weather. I told him that we have very low humidity, “But it rains,” he said. “Oh, yes, but it is dry rain.” What a hoot. But it is true, if we have moisture, it is in the form of drops and not hanging in the air around you. And the plants love the mild temperatures and drops. Our gardens are like those in England. I enjoyed my short radio stardom. Good job, Mary, every Friday morning.

    From the other “M”, Martha

  2. Never like to miss your radio show, I know you spoke about knockout roses so I bought one, now I see that it says zone 5, should I cover it for winter, what is your advice Iplanted it on the South side, hopefully warmer, I do have a beautiful hibiscus growing on that side that has sudddenly got nice and large. Also what is he remedy for a fairty ring,I did treat it with some anti fungal but that hasn`t worked and I am constantly picking mushrooms. People must think I am a witch, with my ring. Incidently I am from Tonbridge , Kent in England, and my sister has received an award for a coupkle of years in a row for her garden. Hope to here the solution to my problem be it in e-mail or on the radio. Maureen Maass, known as Mo.

    • Hi Mo. Hope you heard the answers to your questions on the KNXR Yard & Garden Show this morning. If not, contact me through the “contact us” page of the website or at Mary

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