If you've ever taken a drive through the countryside in late summer, you've probably seen this vine growing along the roadside. Covered in tiny white blossoms, it twines around any sturdy object it can find. I've spotted it creeping over abandoned homesteads, scrambling along rickety fence rows, and even climbing vintage trellis' in backyards of stately old townhomes. I never knew what it was. But that didn't stop me from wanting it. Even so, I had never managed to score a cutting.
Then last Spring I noticed a plant starting to vine up one of my old cement hitching posts. I vaguely recalled sticking a small start of clematis there that I picked up at a local plant sale. All summer long I watched my mystery clematis scamper up the post and amble along the chain toward the other side. I thought it would be one of the purple-flowered varieties popular in countless gardens, and I waited in anticipation for the blossoms to appear. Though when the buds finally burst open, they revealed not the glorious royal hue I was expecting, but a mass of frothy white incredibly fragrant blossoms. It suddenly dawned on me that what I had was not the well-behaved clematis I expected, but the very vine that had perplexed and eluded me for years.
After a bit of research and the help of Pinterest, I discovered it's name: Sweet Autumn Clematis. Originating in Japan and immigrating to this country by-way-of Texas, this clematis can reach lengths of 30ft in just one growing season. It certainly lives up to its name by bursting into bloom in late summer like a trumpeter heralding the arrival of Fall. Then the dainty, star-like blossoms emit such a sweet aroma that the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds simply can't resist it.
After the show-stopping rush of blooms, it performs an stunning encore in the form of wispy silver fronds swirling around coffee-hued seedpods. Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. And in awe of the performance. To put it simply, I'm thrilled to finally have my very own "garden star". Not to mention, relieved to shed light on its identity and finally solve the mystery. Even if it was by accident!
I'm drawn to plants with a purpose. I like to grow things that have some sort of uniqueness to them: a great story, an unusual feature, a creative use. So, heirloom vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs make up the bulk of my cottage style garden. I also have a vegetable plot, berry patches, fruit trees, and herb and cutting flower beds. In maintaining all this, I strive to be as organic as possible by using techniques like companion planting, rotating my crops, and composting kitchen scraps and yard clippings. All this comes together to create a cleaner environment for my family, my livestock, and my gardens.