Clematis

December 28, 2021

While I was cleaning up my garden last week, I noticed the one of our large Clematis had become overrun by tree shoots.  I had noticed this earlier in the year, but the leaves and flowers that graced the vine obscured many of the limbs that were now exposed.  I decided it was a good time to remove the intruding tree since both the vine and the tree were dormant.  I retrieved my loppers from the garage and quickly cut the tree away.  I did notice this was not the first time the tree had been cut out, as there was an established root system that had sprouted the limbs.  I guess I need to go to the outside of the fence and dig it out before spring.  Or maybe just decide to grow a tree?

Our two clematis plants are of the Clematis President variety.  The genus name Clematis is from the Ancient Greek klematis, (“a climbing plant”) and is also translated as “twig, sprout, or tendril”.  Clematis patens is native to Japan and was introduced to Europe in 1836.  The wild clematis species (Clematis florida) is native to China but made its way into Japanese gardens by the 17th century and are the species brought to Europe from Japan.  The plant acquired several symbolic meanings during the Victorian era and was said to symbolize both mental beauty and art, as well as poverty.  The climbing varieties are valued for their ability to scramble up walls, fences, and other structures, and will grow through other plants, such as shrubs and trees.  The opposite happened with our clematis, as the tree grew through the vine.

In the American Old West, the white clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia), was called pepper vine by the early pioneers who used the seeds and the acrid leaves of as a pepper substitute.  The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to mucous membranes and skin, and in large amounts cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract.  Native Americans used very small amounts of clematis as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and nervous disorders, as well as an effective treatment of skin infections.  Clematis has also been used to prepare a variety of remedies as an alternative medicine.  However, according to Cancer Research UK, “there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer.”  When has that ever stopped people from using things however they might.

Thoughts:  When I was researching the clematis vines, I found that while the vines and flowers flourish in full sun, the roots prefer to be shaded.  It was suggested the way to accomplish these opposites is to either grow a low ground cover or mulch around the vines.  Even though my vines have put out great blooms think what they could be doing.  It is said that when a researcher on sleep patterns was told that Einstein only slept four hours a night rather than the minimum of seven the response was, “Think what he could have done if he had gotten enough sleep!”  Humans tend to follow what has been suggested by others as fact, regardless of what the science may say.  I wonder where we would be if people had decided to follow the experts when the pandemic first began?  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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