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Plant of the week: the 'Duchess of Albany' Clematis

The Clematis 'Duchess of Albany'

WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT

Every garden should have walls full of clematis from April to October. This colourful beauty is blooming profusely right now.

Nothing discourages it, including bad pruning. In spring, 'Duchess of Albany' needs to be whacked back to three stems about 15 centimetres long; it will then climb up to three metres in a season if you let it. It will also self-cling, can be trained around a pergola and, if deadheaded, will rebloom.

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WHERE TO PLANT IT

Against a north wall, over a trellis, as a groundcover, even spilling out of a container. C. 'Duchess of Albany' will survive in sun and part shade and in heavy clay soils, but it doesn't like being completely dried out. (If you have sandy soil, add tons of humus: compost, mulch, etc.)

Make sure there is something for it to crawl over or it will find the nearest tree to do so. And place it near a path or seating area so you can admire it (you'll want to).

How often should you water? Can you bring a plant back to life?

WHAT IT OFFERS

Summer-long bell-shaped pink blooms with handsome pale stripes and strong mid-green foliage. The coverage is absolutely ironclad.

Chop it back in spring because it blooms on new wood - the radiance of the pink tones at this time is quite unmatched.

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SOURCE AND COST

Just about every nursery in the country worth its salt carries it; from $15 to $20.

Visit www.marjorieharris.com for more gardening and plant information.

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