Every gardener is familiar with the extraordinary effectiveness of vines in a proper setting, but most of us become discouraged after bad luck. The daintier vines have a habit of developing some unknown illness and dying back unexpectedly, while those which thrive usually do too good a job of it. Many a porch has collapsed under the weight of a husky vine, and many a fence has eventually been relinquished to the stranglehold of some plant which was merely intended to decorate and drape it . . . not to take possession. The lusty vines, which are coarse in growth and bloom, may have a definite place in our gardens, but they are just about as subtle as Niagara Falls.
A well-grown Clematis has none of these objectionable characteristics. Even the hardiest of them has a very deceptive daintiness about it, and they are readily kept under control, while the less rampant growers in the group are as exquisite as old lace. Their culture and maintenance is simple, and the variety of stock now available should make your mouth water.
By and large, Clematis prefer neutral to alkaline soil, good drainage, and shade at their roots. The first two of these requirements can be taken care of by mixing crushed limestone with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole. Or you may set your plant in sharp sand and mix some lime with the soil which you replace. The necessary shade can be provided either by mulch or by other plant material. Protected this way, they are amazingly resistant to summer heat and drought. While the roots want shade, the tops want sun, so unless you have a lode wall or building to provide the naturally ideal location, plant them in the sun, and give the needed root shade by some artificial method.
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