This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

An Autumn Beauty

September 30th, 2011

I was lucky enough to inherit this beautiful ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis (Clematis terniflora) when we moved in here at Chiot’s Run. It’s planted in the worst spot, almost in the gravel driveway, but it doesn’t seem to mind. It’s always grown well and bloomed nicely despite neglect and the tough conditions. Last year, I planted a comfrey at it’s base, to bring up nutrients from deep within the soil. The comfrey leaves also provide a nice mulch in the winter, protecting the soil and composting down in spring.

As you can see, the clematis is really appreciating this partnership. This year it looked better than ever, blooming profusely and providing food for all kinds of pollinators during a season when food is scarce.

This is a fantastic clematis if you’re looking for an easy care tall flowering vine. It blooms on current season growth and should be cut back to about 8-12″ in spring. It’s a vigorous plant, topping out at about 20′, so it can cover a trellis in no time flat. I now prune it several times during the summer to keep it to size. Before I pruned mine as often, it would grow to the top of a dogwood tree nearby.

Some people say this plant invasive, as it puts off seeds. I have only found a few seedlings in my gardens in the nine years I’ve lived here. I find that the deer eat all the seeds in the winter. I’ve never seen one growing in the wild around here, so I think the seeds only survive a mild winter with the right conditions. Since I deal with a few very invasive plants, this one doesn’t strike me as too much of a problem. Be aware though that it might be invasive in warmer climates than my zone 5 garden.

I’m truly amazed by the tenaciousness of this vine. For all the mistreatment it received early in it’s life, it is one of the most beautiful and easy going plants in my garden. Each fall I relish it’s season, happy that it survived the previous owners to grace our fence with such beauty each fall.

What’s your favorite fall blooming plant?

14 Comments to “An Autumn Beauty”
  1. daisy on September 30, 2011 at 5:57 am

    What an amazing vine! I could see it covering a fence or trellis with those beautiful snowy blooms! What a keeper!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. goatpod2 on September 30, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I like mums and other fall flowers as well.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  3. tj on September 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

    …I LOVE Sweet Autumn Clematis! I used to have one that grew up and over a small porch roof off our screen porch and like you I loved the fall blooms, the fragrance and the fact that it was a late season feast for our lil’ pollinators. Sadly, my husband didn’t share in my love of the vine and complained about it and so I transplanted it; it died. :o( When I’m at the nursery I always keep an eye out for one or two even so I can have it again, such a lovely vine. :o)

    …Your photos are gorgeous! 4th photo is greeting card worthy! ;o)

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  4. pam on September 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I had one of those at my old house. Oh, how I miss it!

    Reply to pam's comment

  5. MAYBELLINE on September 30, 2011 at 10:07 am


    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  6. Amy @ Homestead Revival on September 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    What a lovely variety! I have a purple clematis that blooms earlier and I wanted another one to plant near by that would bloom at a different time of year. I think this may be it!

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

  7. Lona on September 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    How beautiful! It looks so fantastic rambling along the fence. I love seeing all of those tiny white blooms in the Fall.

    Reply to Lona's comment

  8. Alyssa on September 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Oh I love a nice clematis, I’ve been wanting some for my own garden to decorate walls and fences, but a started plant here can run you $20! So on the wish list it stays…for now.

    Reply to Alyssa's comment

  9. Sincerely,Emily on September 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I am not sure I have a fall favorite. I have some butterfly weed that I started from seed earlier this spring and it is about to bloom. I will collect the seeds and get some more going. your clematis has a beautiful show of flowers. my mom has a purple one up in MN that I always admire.Your comfrey looks so healthy and happy there. I lost all of mine this summer with the heat and drought. I am just planted some more and hope to nurse it along. Do you have to replant your comfrey every year in your area, or does it come back for you? Sincerely, Emily

    Reply to Sincerely,Emily's comment

    • Susy on September 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      My comfrey comes back year after year. I have 2 different kinds at the moment, old fashioned kind from my grandma’s garden and Russian Bocking #14 – which doesn’t spread. Although I find the old fashioned kind doesn’t spread much. I often take the flowering branches and bury them wherever I’m trying to establish new comfrey patches in the garden. You might want to try a few different varieties to find which works best for you. Richter’s has a great selecting in the spring. I plan on purchased a few new varieties next spring.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Sincerely, Emily on October 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm

        Thanks Susy! I will check into the different varieties. Nice to hear yours comes back year after year. That is great. Emily

        to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  10. Corner Garden Sue on September 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Wow, yours sure is full of blooms! Lovely! I had one between the back sidewalk and our deck that I thought had died last year. This year, it is back, and the top 1/4 is loaded with blooms. It has two offspring, one in the hostas in the back yard, which I need to move in the spring, and the other in the front bed. I didn’t know the volunteer in the front was this until it started blooming. I won’t have enough room for it there, either, but it’s only about 4 feet right now. Maybe I’ll try cutting it back throughout the season like you do.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

    • Susy on October 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

      That’s why you cut it back so severely in the spring, since it blooms on new growth the old growth at the bottom of the vine will not produce any flowers. Give it a try next year, seems strange to cut it back so much but the blooms will then cover the entire vine.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Trish on October 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I am right at the top of zone 6 in southern Illinois and I have found my autumn clematis to be invasive in recent years, so much so that I am going to eliminate it from my garden. we have too many invasives already.

    my favorite fall bloomer is caryopteris, which has delightful blue flowers loved by all nectar consuming species

    Reply to Trish's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Rain, Rain, Rain

So far this fall has been fairly wet, which we really needed after our dry July and August, however, it...