For about three weeks in mid September and early October, I especially enjoy our backyard. Two of the late blooming clematis vines fill the yard with sweetly scented blossoms that can be noticed throughout the entire yard. These are small, creamy white, prolific blooms that cover the trellis.
When I'm mowing lawn and brush by these vines the scent is most enjoyable. One of them is on a trellis at the end of the deck, and we get the scent though the windows of our enclosed porch. As you can see, we can enjoy them all the time they are in bloom.
At the same time, the bees really enjoy the blooms. They are very busy working them for the honey they produce. I have no idea what that honey would taste like but it might be a great-tasting treat. Some of my beekeeping friends can set me straight on this.
Normally I would prune these prolific vines in late fall when the foliage is dead or let it go until early spring before the vine starts to grow. But for the last two winters, I have had help in pruning them.
When the snowfall gets heavy and has covered the ground for some time, the deer that come out of the woods at the back of our home are looking for something to eat. They have decided those dead vines are good, and they have eaten them right down to the ground, even pawing the snow away to get at them.
When they have finished with the clematis vines, they tend to move to other shrubs that I don't want pruned and go to work on them. We've had to replant several.
I can't complain, however, because we invaded their territory and they look for an easy meal where they can find it. We have counted as many as 12 deer along about dusk in the backyard looking for something to eat. When the snow is heavy on the ground, they will paw it away and graze the lawn. Come spring, we don't see that they have done much damage to the grass.
In doing some checking, I find that these clematis vines are called Sweet Autumn and are in the terniflora family. If that isn't correct, some folks that are better horticulturists than I am will know the right name. We have another vine in the front of the house that has the big purple blossoms that come out mid-summer and cover the trellis.
For us, clematis vines have been nice plants to grow - not too expensive, easy to plant and grow quickly and usually very prolific. They need a good trellis or some support to keep them upright. Some information is also available about planting them around other shrubs or trees for support.
Small vines come up around the base of the larger ones, either from seed or underground roots. I have planted a couple of these further back in our yard, but there is sun only part of the day and a lot of competition for moisture from the woods, so they haven't done too well.
Another vine that we have going over the arbor and fence in the backyard is the trumpet vine. It is another prolific growing vine that is supposed to bloom. After about three years, we did get about six blossoms this year, and it should be nearly full. It tends to be an invasive vine that can come up where we don't want it, so take some control. And perhaps now that it has started to bloom, in another year we will have more blossoms to enjoy. As you can tell, I'm no expert when it comes to horticulture but do enjoy plants.
So we're enjoying fall with all its color and nice days and trying not to fuss about the winter that is ahead!
Parker grew up in Trumbull County and is an independent writer for the Tribune.