Posted: 25/03/2013 at 00:04
Hello, I'm back now. I live in Dordogne. I'm afraid I haven't had a lot of luck with Ceonothus. The winters can be very cold here and the ceonothus goes black and dies. The one I have had a long time is a deciduous one called "Gloire de Versailles". When it was -17° in February and we had snow for about 10 days it looked dead and my OH cut it back and it regrew. It's been fine this winter.
Ceonothus likes warmth, sunshine, a well drained soil and a sheltered spot. I think it would keep warmer in the ground rather than in a pot - if you have a sunny sheltered spot. But you will have to do something to improve the clay. Dig in compost and grit to lighten it up and improve the drainage. It doesn't like wet conditions either. Sometimes it can pour for days where I am.
The plants Pat Morris mentioned all grow well here.