Marsha and Cam Varner's backyard looks like a picture from a winter scene, even though their home is in Evans and there is no snow.
The "snow" is actually clematis blooming, and it's found all over the yard. The Varners bought the plant years ago through a catalog.
"We fell in love with clematis on the West Coast in Washington state," said Cam Varner. "They last so long there. So, when we returned to the East Coast, we started experimenting with what worked here.
''Nothing turned out as we had planned, but this one did better than anything else we tried. In fact, if you don't control it, it will become a weed."
The Varners say the clematis is a pretty prolific plant and one they now have growing on their lake property.
"It is all through our yard and now is on our lake property as a result of our composting efforts up there," said Varner. "All things said, it is beautiful in the late summer to early fall, smells wonderful in the right conditions and would be great for anyone wanting a fence or border vining plant through the summer."
A staple in many gardens, clematis can produce small blooms, large flowers or be composed of mostly vines. The various types are dictated by their blooming season. Autumn clematis is known to be vinelike during the summer and produce blooms from late summer to early fall. By some estimates, the clematis plant can survive for more than 25 years if cared for correctly.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service suggests planting new clematis plants in the fall. Clematis plants prefer cool shade over the plant roots, usually provided by a layer of mulch, and sun for top growth. Some of the more than 300 varieties will flower in light shade. The extension service recommends pruning clematis in late winter or early spring.
"Varieties which produce flowers on old wood or stems should be pruned only to remove dead, weak or crowded stems," according to the extension service Web site. "Those that flower on the current season's growth may be pruned more heavily. Stems may be cut back to 12 to 18 inches from the ground."
Varner said he has even pruned the plant just before blooming.
"You can cut it to the ground once it is established, and it will come back," said Varner. "At the same time, you can prune it right up until blooming and it will not hurt it."
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