Clematis Pruning

Clematis 'Nelly Moser'
Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

One of the most common questions we get about clematis at the nursery concerns pruning.  To be honest, it’s confusing, so any questions are valid.    The most important factor in deciding how to prune clematis is placing them in the right category.

Vining clematis is separated into three main categories, A, B and C.





  • Vines that don’t die back in winter and bloom in the spring
  • Includes C. montana ‘Rubens’ (Pink) and C. montana ‘Alexander’ (White)
  • Since these bloom on old wood, major pruning should be left until after they flower in spring.
  • If there is obvious deadwood, it can be removed earlier in the season; make final cuts just above live buds.  Keep in mind, removal of live branches will also remove overwintering flower buds.


  • Vines with large flowers, or doubles, often reblooming.
  • Incudes C. ‘Henryi’, C. ‘Nelly Moser’ and other stunning varieties.
  • These plants bloom on old wood in spring and in later summer on new wood, so pruning should be kept to a minimum, no matter the time of year.
  • Limit pruning to removal of dead branches, and tie live branches, evenly, across the trellis


  • Includes a wide assortment of varieties.  C. viticella ‘Betty Corning’ C. paniculata ( Sweet Autumn Clematis), C. ‘Jackmanii’ and C. ‘Niobe’
  • These are the easiest to prune.  Cut the entire vine down to within a foot of the ground leaving 2 to 4 sets of buds.
  • If you aren’t sure if your clematis is in this group, try leaving it alone for a season.  If it dies to the ground over the winter, or flowers only at the top with loads of dead foliage and bare stems at the base, it’s likely in this group.


Lavandula 'Provence' - Provence French Lavender
Lavandula ‘Provence’ – Provence French Lavender

The scent of lavender carries a certain nostalgia for many people.  Maybe it’s the smell of grandmas dresser drawers or moms perfume?  Happily, lavender is easy to grow, given the right conditions.  So, we can recreate that scent memory in our gardens.

If you want to grow lavender successfully, there are a few points to keep in mind.   Lavender is native to areas of the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia.   In order to keep lavender happy, try to provide conditions similar to its native habitat.  Well drained, gravelly soil, and full, hot sun are critical.  Drainage is the single most important factor, especially because we have such damp winters.  Lavender does not dying wet soil in winter.
The other important factor is pruning.  Do not prune lavender at all, if possible.  Simply dead head the spent stalks to above healthy foliage in late summer.  If plants do outgrow their space, or get leggy, shape them by removing about a third of the soft new growth from the current season.  Never prune them back into old wood.  Lavender resent this treatment, and may respond by giving up the ghost.
A few Common cultivars and their attributes:
  • L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’:  Dwarf English lavender.  Named after Hidcote Manor in England.  Grows to a foot high, with flower stems to 18″.  Deep purple flowers.
  • L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’:  English lavender.  Named after Munstead Woods in England, home of famous garden designer Gertrude Jeckyl.  Grows to a foot high, with flower stems to 20″.  Flowers are much less violet than ‘Hidcote’, decidedly blue.
  • L. x intermedia ‘Provence’:  French hybrid lavender.  One of the cultivars grown in France for the commercial lavender industry.  Touted as being more tolerant of wet feet than others.  Tall flower stems reaching 30″.
  • L. x intermedia ‘Grosso’:  French hybrid lavender:  One of the best for cutting.  Stems grow to 30″.


Nepeta x fassenii 'Walker's Low'
Nepeta x fassenii ‘Walker’s Low’

A favorite of homeowners and landscapers alike, Nepeta x faassenii and its cultivars is a stellar plant for Nantucket. It forms a mound of pretty grey-green foliage early in the season, and is covered in blue flowers for well over a month in early summer. Cut it back in July, and you can expect the same show all over again before Labor Day.

Nepeta prefers full sun and well drained soil. It is extremely deer resistant and tolerant of salt, wind and drought. One island landscaper has taken to calling it the ‘The Welcome Plant’ since it is so friendly and easy care. There is a cultivar for nearly every situation. As long as you have at least a half day of sun, and some drainage, this plant will perform for you.

Common cultivars and their attributes are listed below:

  •   ‘Six Hills Giant’: At 3′ tall x 3 or more feet wide, this is the largest plant in this group. Great for covering a large area in a hurry. If not planted in full sun, this one can get floppy and splay open. Try shearing it back early in the season, to keep the plant stocky.
  •   ‘Walkers Low’: Don’t let its name confuse you, this is not a dwarf plant. It is named for a garden in England, were it was selected. 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year! 3′ wide and tall. Somewhat more compact than ‘Six Hills Giant’
  •   ‘Dropmore’: This one is considerably smaller than those listed above at 1.5′ tall and wide. A good option for smaller spots.
  •   ‘Blue Wonder’: Another good variety for smaller spaces. In my experience, ‘Blue Wonder’ is just slightly smaller than ‘Dropmore’, but the foliage is flatter and somewhat less grey.
  •  ‘Snowflake’: A small variety with clear white flowers. We don’t always stock it, but if your plan calls for white, try this cultivar. Not growing more than 15″ wide, it’s a good option for along a pathway, or a small white garden.
  •  ‘KitKat’: A true dwarf plant. This little one only grows to a foot or more tall and wide. Great to tuck in at the edge of the border.

Pruning Montauk Daisies

Many gardeners realize the benefits of pruning woody plants and trees. But perennials can really benefit from some pruning too! Montauk Daisies, Nipponanthemum nipponicum,  have a tendency to get huge and splay open late in the season, just as they come into flower. It’s nearly impossible to stake them or tie them and still make them look natural.

The solution to this problem is a little shearing early in the season. In May, cut back the growth by at least a third. Have no fear! They will rebound quickly, and the result will be a dense plant with shorter stems, capable of holding the flowers upright in Autumn. If you want a much smaller plant than previous seasons, consider one more pinching in June, before flower buds are set.

Before pinching
Before pinching in May
After pinching in May
After pinching 

Vines as Groundcovers

Clematis paniculata

When most gardeners think of vines, they picture them growing on tuteurs and trellises. But there is no need to pull out your hammer and nails every time you bring home a vine to plant!

There are plenty of vines that happily scramble along the ground, filling gaps and smothering weeds. Many of these will produce far more flowers grown horizontally. Clematis are a perfect example of this. Plant them at the front of the border and train them along areas often reserved for bedding plants, and they will reward you with a long show of flowers. Or let them flow around your shrubs, in waves of color. A Sweet Autumn Clematis in full flower is much like a wave cresting in the garden!

Vines can be a great solution to filling in shady areas, too. English ivy makes a fantastic green groundcover for deep shade. Why not use a Climbing Hydrangea along the ground? We’ve planted it below our welcome sign at the entry to the nursery. H. anomala petiolaris var. tilifolia has much smaller leaves than the species and will tightly hug the ground. Other options to consider are Schizophragma hydrangeoides, Akebia quinata or the ever popular Vinca minor.

We have a wide selection of vines in stock, why not consider one the next time you need to cover the ground in a hurry?

Dividing Daylilies

The humid days of August can take their toll on the most avid of gardeners. A lot of maintenance tasks become overly routine -deadhead, weed, water, mow — REPEAT. But as September rolls around, there seems to be a surge in enthusiasm for many of us. We want to get out there and do something. Something big! If you’re feeling frisky, dividing might be just the chore for you!

Daylilies are a pleasure to divide. First, cut back the foliage to a few inches. Then press a perennial fork into the ground a half a foot or so from the edge of the clump. Work your way around, pulling back on the fork to tease the plant out of the ground. If the clump is very large, feel free to dig it up in sections. Once you have it out of the ground, you can simply pull apart the clump into divisions with 2 or three growing points.

Divisions are easily planted. Just poke them into loose soil!

Hemerocallis division


Anenome 'Pink Saucer'Anemones are among the most beautiful flowering plants for fall. They flourish in moist, humusy soil in part sun. If you must add them to your sunny border, be sure to keep them well watered.

‘September Charm’ and ‘Pink Saucer’ are some of the more common pink Japanese anemones. Or if you need a dainty white, ‘Honorine Jobert’ will fit the bill.

Grape leafed anemone –Anemone tomentosa ‘Robustissima’ is one of my favorites. The foliage emerges in mid spring, and forms a wide clump of fuzzy leaves. In late summer, it sends up 3 foot tall, wiry stems topped with round buds that open into the classic pink anemone flower.

Late Summer Color

Naturalistic late summer mini garden-1When August is looming and the vibrant blooms of early summer are past, Nantucket’s gardens begin to feel the heat! The best way to guarantee splendid shows of colorful flowers late in summer, is to mix it up with annuals and perennials that bloom for a long period, or that start blooming later in the season.

Gardeners are always on the look out for perennials that flower freely. Some of the best are Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Gaura lindheimeri, Calamintha nepetoides, and Persicaria amlexicaulis. They bloom for months from the height of summer right into the fall.

Find places in the border for late summer bloomers like Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, Perovskia atriplicifolia, Echinacea, Hibiscus mosc., Sedum spec. ‘Autumn Joy’, and Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’. All of these plants are hardy and will have fresh blooms in late summer.

Fill in gaps between perennials with annuals. Or design spaces for these show stoppers into your gardens. Some of our favorite annuals for mixed plantings are Verbena bonariensis and Dahlias. T

he tall, narrow stems and purple flowers of Verbena bonariensis are a great filler for areas where hollyhocks have fizzled or foxgloves have finished flowering. And the vast aray of tall and decorative dahlias can be used to add color to nearly any area of the sunny garden.

Sedum spec. ‘Autumn Joy’

Sedum spec. 'Autumn Joy'Gardeners are always looking for the perfect three season plant. Showy Stonecrop – Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ fits the bill! It emerges from the ground in spring, looking a lot like small Brussels sprouts. As the stems lengthen, the leaves become broader and have a distinctive, succulent look. In mid summer, the flower buds begin to form, and cover the plant with open sprays of chartreuse. By September, the flowers tighten up into umbels and open to reveal tiny pink petals. As fall sets in, the color deepens to cranberry and then garnet. Even the seed heads are ornamental and look great covered with frost in front of the buff color of ornamental grasses.

Sedums don’t require much care during the growing season. If you find they get too tall and splay open in your garden, pinch then once or twice in early summer before flowers begin to form. This will force the plant to branch out and remain dense and compact.

Plant them with other late summer perennials like Perovskia, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, and Phlox. Frame the planting with Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and you can’t lose!



Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbury'Hemerocallis, or Daylilies have been a garden staple for years. Their stunning trumpet-shaped flowers open and senesce within 24 hours, hence their name.  The American Hemerocallis Society has over 48000 registered cultivars, and of the nearly 13000 of those are available commercially.  That makes for a huge variety in color, height, bloom season, and flower form.

Daylilies will tolerate almost any soil type, and will perform in part shade to full sun.  However, they prefer rich well drained soil.  Full sun will guarantee the most blooms, and consistent water will help keep their foliage deep green throughout the growing season.

Maintenance is simple, yet can be time consuming, if you must take care of extensive plantings.  Remove spent blossoms as they appear.  Once all the buds have bloomed, cut the entire scape (flower stalk) down to ground level.  As July turns to August, the foliage can begin to tatter and brown or many varieties.  Remove brown, dry leaves as they appear, or cut the entire plant down to six inches and fresh foliage will soon replace it.  An extra boost of fertilizer at this time will also help.

Daylilies mix very well in the border with nearly all summer flowering plants.  For a long show of color, interplant Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ with daffodils, then follow up with the tender perennial Verbena bonariensis.  Contrast large groups of daylilies with plants that have a different leaf form or flower color.  Echinacea looks great next to daylilies, as does Phlox paniculata and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’. It’s really tough to go wrong!

The American Hemerocallis Society has a superb online database.  Use it to chose plants that will bloom Early, Mid and Late season, and you can enjoy flowers all summer in a wide variety of colors and forms.