Hidden away in Germantown is a truly unusual garden. The Climbery is a both a private garden and a not-for-profit foundation, with the largest collection of clematis in the world. The owner, Barbara Packer, wants to promote interest in growing the plants and her garden beds are filled with almost 600 different varieties – over 5,000 vines of them.
Although they don’t all bloom at once, it is still a dazzling display. Interspersed with the clematis vines are large clumps of perennials, lots of evergreens and some wonderfully whimsical ornaments. Even the red cedar stakes used to support many of the vines share in the good humor, with wooden hands and feet topping them.
It’s hard to do this garden justice in writing. There are clematis, to be sure, but it’s still a personal garden. There are bird houses dotted throughout, plenty of seating areas for the family to enjoy their home and a lovely enclosed garden dedicated to the memory of her father. The fence is, of course, red cedar and within it are formally arranged evergreens softened with perennials.
The Climbery is open by appointment only – it is her home – but Packer is very cordial and allows you to wander and wonder on your own. If you have questions, she’s always nearby, working on some part of the garden.