Tag Archives: clematis

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2016!  I truly appreciate all who have visited my blog this year.  Here’s a look back at some of my most popular posts of 2015!  

Tomato Florida Weave

1.   Taming My Tomatoes With A Florida Weave:  My tomatoes were a mess, so I tried something new to try and keep things in order.



Blue Jay

2.    The Blue Jays are Back (and That’s Not a Good Thing):  What to do when you have nuisance birds at your feeder?




Garlic3.  Warding Off The Vampires:  This was my first try at growing garlic.  Easier than I thought and definitely worth the effort.




Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze4.  So Long Beautiful Maple Tree:  Sometimes things go terribly wrong with plant.  In this case, construction and cold brought about the demise of our beautiful Freeman Maple



IMG_38415.  November in Chicago:  This fall was quite an unusual one.  Here in Chicago, the plants were quite confused as to the time of year and it made for an interesting fall.



clematis wilt6.  Something’s Wrong With the Clematis and Clematis Stem Wilt: An Update to Something’s Wrong With The Clematis:  The wet spring affected a lot of plants.  Many of us saw some terrible die back of our clematis due to Clematis Stem Wilt.  Hopefully next spring everything will rebound.


westie7.  Little White Pepper Thief:  Apparently Westies love peppers.  I didn’t get any sweet or hot peppers from my garden this year because of my little thief 🙁



rabbit nest8.  Spring Surprises:  Even when you think you know everything in your garden, you get surprised!




Callicarpa9.  Beautyberry Bushes:  Did They Survive the Winter?  After a winter like we had, I thought I had lost my new bushes.  But, they are one of the last to leaf out in the spring, so I’m glad I was patient.  



IMG_349510.  Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses:  This was one of my favorite posts of the year.  Not only was fall in Northern Michigan stunning, my mom and I stumbled onto a forest area full of a club mosses.   Very cool to see and explore.


..and a few of my all-time most popular posts:

Curled Leaves On The Bushes (August 2014)

Creeping Thyme Problems (April 2014) and an update in August, Oops, September Garden Update 

Painting Rock Garden Markers (February 2014)

Pelicans In Illinois (September 2013)

Our Family Christmas Tree (December 2013)

Hope you keep visiting, I have all kinds of ideas to keep everyone in the gardening mood all winter.  

Remember, you can also find Stephi Gardens on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and  Twitter.


August, Oops, September Garden Update

A while back I thought I was getting caught up, but then sending twins off to college this fall proved to be quite a time consuming effort!  So the garden has been a bit on auto pilot for a little while now.  Thank goodness it got off to such a good start this spring.  Here’s some tidbits on what I would have written about, if I had had the time 🙂

There was a family of chickadees that must have nested and fledged near my feeders.  For weeks, I was so entertained by the hilarious antics of the 3 young chickadees that truly behaved like little kids.

baby chickadee

baby chickadee

I got a lot more green peppers and Mariachi hot peppers as the summer went on.  Unfortunately, Daisy was not at all dissuaded by munching on the hot peppers and continued to eat almost all this year’s pepper harvest (Little White Pepper Thief).

green pepper

Surveying the garden for her latest snack…


A couple of years ago this patch of creeping thyme was a disaster.  I wrote about it in my earlier post, Creeping Thyme Problems.  I was skeptical that the severe pruning was going to help, but it has.  It looks gorgeous and lush, and smells awesome when I walk on it to get to the garden hose.  So if in doubt, cut away, it’ll be better for it!

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

I didn’t get many sunflowers this year thanks to the bunnies.  But I did get this one, beautiful Evening Sun Sunflower.  Made me smile.

Evening Sun sunflower

Thankfully Daisy doesn’t seem have found the tomatoes or basil. I don’t ever seem to tire of fresh tomato salads.

tomato basil salad

The raspberries I planted in the spring flourished over the summer.  I even got a few tasty raspberries in the late summer.  Looking forward to having the plants mature and getting lots of berries.   What did I plant?  See my previous post “My Raspberries and Strawberry Plants Are Here!”


Two of my clematis plants got a terrible case of Clematis Stem Wilt earlier this spring (What’s Wrong With the Clematis and Clematis Stem Wilt).  I was hopeful that the plants would survive and I think they did.  Both plants put up a couple of new, healthy looking stems that looked good until the last few days when something has decided to munch on the leaves.  We’ll see in the spring how they look.  At least there’s hope.


The petunias were home to lots of pollinators.  This bumblebee was fun to watch as he dove deep into each flower.  He seemed to really prefer the dark pink over light pink.  While I have no decent pictures, I had hummingbirds also visit my yard late this summer.  I don’t always get them, so it has been a treat the last few weeks to have them visit.


How was your garden this year?

(BTW Go Hokies! Go Blue!)

Before Vacation

It’s always tough to go leave the garden and go on vacation.  It seems like something (or everything) is ready to just burst out in color or ripen just in time to go away. Or the weather can you throw you a curve ball and get crazy hot/cold or dry/wet. Very unpredictable. I assumed this year was no different, so right before we left I had my daughter Emily take some pictures to do a little before and after.

Some of the flowers were already in full bloom and likely will be past peak before we get back…

asian lily




Bee balm



Some were ready to bloom and I can only hope I don’t miss the show…

Stephi Gardens


Stephi Gardens




Jackmanii clematus

The vegetables were flourishing.  The cooler weather vegetables were starting to show signs of stress and looking ready to bolt, but still fine to harvest for a little while longer.  Peppers, squash and beans were almost ready, so my friend who is helping with dog sitting and plant watering should get some treats.  I’d hate for them to go to waste and there’ll be plenty more.  Tomatoes are growing like gang-busters, but not expecting any ripe ones quite yet.

Stephi Gardens




summer squash


Stephi Gardens

Vacations are always a little tricky to be sure everything stays healthy in the garden.  Right before we left for almost 2 weeks, I gave everything a watering with Miracle-Gro fertilizer and dead-headed everything that would benefit from it.  I set the sprinkler to try and optimize waterings, and had a friend also check on things and keep the pots watered.  I also tried to be sure the plants that needed staking were supported so things wouldn’t be too out of hand when I got back.

How do your gardens fare when you go on vacation?

Checking in on the Clematis

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my favorite plants in my garden are my clematis. I love how they climb and burst forth in mountains of delightful color.  Every year I worry about if they’ll make it through the winter, but so far so good. One of them I’ve had since we moved into the house almost 20 years ago. It’s moved a couple of times, but it’s no worse for the wear.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

I also worry a lot about pruning as well.  I just feel like I’m going to do it wrong and somehow kill it, or permanently wreck it.  So more often than not, I do nothing for a while and then timidly prune some off.  Instead, pruning clematis is necessary to keep it healthy and blooming profusely.

When and how to prune depends on what type it is.  It is also important to prune a young clematis the first 2 years to encourage strong roots to support a strong plant.  While tempting (and commonly done here), clematis should also not be pruned in the fall in colder climates since any warm weather will stimulate growth too early.

There’s lots of great websites describing how to prune a clematis, but simply put:

  • Type A or 1 blooms in early spring and should be pruned lightly to remove dead wood and neaten up the plant after blooming.  Flower buds are set the previous year on old wood.
  • Type B or 2 blooms in late spring or early summer and then sporadically after.  These can be pruned by thinning in very early spring and then again after the bloom.  Or, if really unruly, they can be cut back more severely to about a foot before any new growth begins.
  • Type C  or 3 tends to bloom in early to late summer.  These are the easiest to prune.  Before new growth begins cut the entire plant back to about a foot.

I think I can handle this. A little more care and my clematis will look even more spectacular!

This Clematis “Jackmanii” has been moved a few times and was the slowest to bud this year.  I was worried it was dead, but happily buds began to emerge a couple of weeks ago.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"








Clematis “Jackmanii” is a Type 3 clematis for pruning.  Last week, once the new growth was established and I new it was alive, I took the opportunity to prune back the tangled mess of dead wood above the new growth.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

This one is my 20 year old Clematis “Jackmanii”.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"


It’s been hard pruned periodically (in the fall, whoops) , and keeps coming back bushier and fuller each year.

Clematis "Jackmanii superba"

One of my recent clematis plantings is a clematis “Sugar Candy”.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"

This a type 2 clematis and hasn’t been pruned at all since it was planted.

Clematis "Sugar Candy"


It could probably use some freshening up, so I will give it a bit of a “haircut” this year after it has bloomed, and then again in the early spring next year.

My newest one is unknown.  Somehow in less than 6 months, I have lost the name tag.  It is a clearance plant I got last fall, so I’m glad it came back this spring.  It’s going to be a nice surprise when it blooms and I can try to identify it.  I’l have a better idea as to how to prune it when I figure out what it is.



Do you have any clematis in your yard?  Are you comfortable pruning it?

Just a Dusting

We spent the weekend getting the garden prepared for winter.  That is, when we weren’t cheering on the IL State Cross Country Champions (sorry this is really a huge event for the boys and school–first time ever in the team’s history).  Later this week, I’ll write about the things we did, but overnight we had our first real, yet barely, measurable snowfall.  Other parts of the area got more, but where I am, we rarely get lake effect snow so that usually keeps the amount of snowfall down.



Not quite as inviting as earlier this summer…


All summer I have been admiring this clematis that is right outside the side door.  Now, even as the days grow shorter, the daytime temperatures keep dropping and we’ve even had a little snowfall, it just stubbornly, or defiantly, keeps putting out new blooms.  



The Garden in Fall: The Good

It’s the beginning of October and the days are getting shorter, the nights growing colder. These are the last gasps for the garden before it settles into the winter hibernation. In some ways, fall gardens can be very pretty. I’m always surprised at the plants that continue to bloom well in to fall, some even looking their best. And of course, there are the things that take all summer to finally show their colors. Here’s some of the plants and areas of my garden that make me smile.


One of my favorite flowers is the marigold. I love the smell (although I might be the only one) and the colors. They always seems to just come alive in the fall and it has always had a place of prominence in my garden. I’m also reminded of a trip to Taos, NM, where I saw the prettiest marigold chains.  One year when an early frost was going to wipe out the flowers prematurely, I made one myself that hung beautifully in the kitchen.



(There were also  lots of bundles of hot peppers that just looked pretty hanging there)


There’s lots of color in the garden...



And interest…



And vegetables are still coming, as long as we don’t have a frost!




July Garden Photos

This gallery contains 14 photos.

These beautiful pictures were taken of my garden by Peggy over the last week.             And one brilliant photo of a peony from her garden in Michigan!