I was considerably distressed early in the summer when my wife hacked back arching branches of the tall nandina that partially obstructed steps down from the lower deck. I was not so much concerned with the nandina as the wonderful white clematis (Clematis ‘Henryi’, below) that climbed through it. ‘Henryi’ had grown to be intertwined and inseparable from the nandina so that I was reluctant to prune it. The stems of clematis are fragile enough that there would be significant damage inflicted in attempting to untangle the vine from the nandina. Instead, I simply chose to descend from the deck on the far side and walk around, an accommodation that I deemed reasonable to spare the clematis at only a slight inconvenience.
My wife had no such hesitancy to pruning, and when she found herself with a bit too much time on her hands she chopped the nandina so that it is no longer a problem. Along with it went much of the clematis. I learned long ago that I have a much greater tolerance for hazards and obstructions in the garden, and that not everyone is so willing to stoop under or step over such impediments. Once the deed was done there was not much to be done about it except to wait for the clematis to grow out and then guide it back up into the new and improved version of the nandina.
Fortunately, ‘Henryi’ has managed the feat without my assistance, though I expect that it will take a year or two for it to climb to the top of the nandina and flower as extravagantly as before. A few stray stems of the clematis have flopped, and one now winds across the stone steps and through the ‘Lightning Strike’ toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta ‘Lightning Strike’ below) that has grown a bit floppy itself. To the far side of ‘Lightning Strike’ is another nandina, and I’ve considered letting the vine scramble up into it also, but the unprotected stem laying across the step is problematic. Perhaps the stem can be convinced without too much of a struggle to move behind the steps, and then this might be a more permanent arrangement.
In any case, since ‘Henryi’ was effectively deadheaded, it is flowering again, and the toad lily is blooming also. This accidental combination is delightful, though this is likely to be the first and last time to see it.