NY Times Discovers Clematis


Chalkhillclematis Apparently, there are some people interested in gardening at the New York Times.  They just don’t happen to be the garden writers.  Michelle Slatalla, the paper’s online shopping columnist, has a piece today about being suddenly overwhelmed, with a crazy impulsiveness that suggests she really may be a gardener, by the notion that she needs clematis.

Apparently located in the Real Garden State, California, Slatalla is able to hop in the car and pop over to Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburg and pick out what she wants.  Even in benighted upstate New York, however, where popping over to Chalk Hill is the kind of dream we don’t even allow ourselves to have, I’ve had great experiences ordering from the Chalk Hill catalog.  Fantastic selection.  They send healthy plants.  I planted three of the above Victorian lovelies last year, “Purpurea Plena Elegans,” and they seem to be doing well in that anemic though hauntingly beautiful clematis way.

Plus, Chalk Hill does not ship bare-root as so many other catalogs do.  This seems to me to be key.  Has anyone ever planted clematis bare-root and had it survive?  I’ve canvassed the globe and never found a single person who’s made a go of a bare-root clematis. 


  1. I saw the article and was consumed with clematis envy, since they can barely be coaxed into living here in TX. I have been reading that shopping column for ages, but never picked up on the California location before.

    Is your Clematis purpurea a form of what used to be sold as Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’? That one was called Florists’ clematis when I grew it in Illinois, and the story was that in olden days, when wedding flowers were grown locally, rows of this clematis were grown behind the flower shop, to bloom in late May/early June for the bridal tables & bouquets.

    Michele, this clematis can look absolutely divine when planted behind, and slightly to the side of a single, peachy-colored Peony, frothing over and around the larger flower. I know you don’t like peonies, and it’s a very old fashioned look, but in the right setting it can be gorgeous.


  2. Annie,

    It’s a viticella hybrid. Mine’s not blooming yet and the peonies are finishing up. But I do like that idea. Purple and peach. Awesome combintation.

    By the way “Sarah Bernhardt” finally bloomed. Even a hater of big pink flowers like me must admit, she is amazing.

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