Marie Dranttel has spent a lifetime gardening. The master gardener, who grew up on a farm, now operates a "very modest" truck farm in St. Peter, Minn., growing and selling watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and pumpkins. She also tends a wide variety of perennials (peonies, coneflowers, asters, mums), but clematis, above, is "fast becoming one of my favorite plants," she said. "They're a lot less work than they used to be."

Dranttel grows six or seven varieties of clematis, training them up trellises, fence posts, even trees. And although her clematis come through winter well, you couldn't describe them as truly Minnesotan. Said Dranttel: "They like cold feet -- and hot heads."


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