By The Way is an organic smallholding and garden situated on the north-west boundary within the New Forest National Park. The garden comprises two thirds acre of south facing stony soil, with clay seams running through and numerous, mainly deciduous, trees. Ph varies from < 4 – 7.0, that is, very acid to neutral. Most sites are almost exactly neutral. Numerous underground springs ensure that the grass remains green despite no watering or chemical feeding.
The collection of over 200 Clematis Montana plants represents fifty five named cultivars and many seedlings found in the garden over the last few years. The most mature, C. montana var. rubens was planted in 1986. New and old cultivars are still being located.
No chemicals have been used for twenty six years with alternative natural products used for pest control, propagation and feeding. Numerous water butts around the house and garden provide at least three gallons of rain water per plant each month – more when it rains! Planting material is made up of half home-made compost and half sieved two year old oak leaf mould. This feeds the mature plants and retains the moisture without water logging. Planting holes are at least fifty centimeters / eighteen inches deep and wide. After digging, they are filled with water and allowed to drain completely (to ensure the surrounding soil is sufficiently moist to encourage the roots to travel down and out). The hole is half filled with the compost and leaf mould mix plus a handful of bone meal. A 6” layer of our stony soil is added before the plant is lowered into the hole, angled towards its tree support, with the base of its stems just level with the earth. (It is most important that the root ball is completely covered.) Mycorrhizal fungi is scattered over and touching the root ball. Next, the original (very poor) soil is mixed with a little more compost and leaf mould to fill in and tread round the plant. Rain water is used to settle the plant firmly into the bed. Finally, a 6” wide, 6” deep, circular mulch of leaf mould is added, some 6” from the stems, to prevent the soil from drying out.
All clematis, including the montana group, are fed with bone meal in November and a high potash feed in February. In addition, they are given a generous mulch of home made compost, leaf mould and wood ash several times a year (once again keeping well clear of the stems) to feed and prevent the soil around the plants from drying out.
The garden hosts the only National Collection of the Clematis Montana Group. There are hundreds of other clematis integrated within the garden, providing year round clematis interest, colour, height and perfume throughout the garden.
Find out more about the layout of the garden .
Directions to the garden if you are interested in coming to see the collection.