When I moved into my home, I inherited a neglected garden that was surrounded by a cyclone fence with brown vinyl slats. From the start, my goal was to disguise the fence as quickly as possible using evergreen shrubs and clematis. Impatient as I was, I took a year to assess my site.
One way I did this was to discover the views of my garden from inside my house. My kitchen window affords the most interesting view. I created a landscape that would please me as I cooked and did the dishes. Roses, lilies, peonies and the like created a colorful view during the spring and summer, but I wanted year-round interest. After the year of deliberation, I decided to plant the fence with Jasminum officinale and Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’. I dreamed of having fragrant white flowers from the jasmine in summer echoed in the winter with the creamy bells of the clematis. This combination has turned out to be a success. The jasmine is now fully mature and reaches up into a nearby spruce. Its stems are always green and attractive. During a mild winter, it will even retain some leaves. The blooms are small but numerous enough to be visible from my window.
In the winter, the clematis takes over. Its foliage is surprisingly glossy and attractive and the bell-flowers are of a size that makes them clearly visible from a distance. Wisley Cream begins to bloom in late October most years and continues until March. Only dips in temperature to the lower 20s or upper teens delay the blooms. As soon as the temperature rises into the upper 30s during the day, the blooms begin to open again. The fence has protected the plant from the fierce east winds that do damage to many evergreen plants in the Portland area.
One other window I gaze out of is the dining room window. From my usual seat I wanted to be able to see shrubs and clematis all summer. I chose the semi-evergreen Daphne bholua to serve as a screen. It also offers winter interest as long as the winter is not too severe. On the fence I planted Clematis ‘Viola’, a summer-blooming clematis with royal purple flowers that are slightly cupped. The vine has happily taken off and covers 12 feet of fence with stray stems climbing into the daphne and the hydrangeas that grow on either side of the fence. A favorite, if accidental, combination is Viola straying onto the ripening mophead flowers of Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’. The color of the clematis against the pale violet young mopheads make quite a show.
Combinations like these keep the garden lively and keep me involved with my garden throughout the seasons.