Treat yourself and the garden to a clematis

Clematis Rebecca  ' a  winter survivor.
Clematis Rebecca ' a winter survivor.
Now is the time to get to grips with your strawberry bed.

BRIAN KIDD: Strawberry fields forever – but renew them every three years

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I decided to have a look at the clematis plants in the garden to see which ones survived the winter.

Rebecca, a rich dark red, has survived and it was a treat to see new shoots rising out of the soil.

There was another dark green growth right at the top of the plant with a shoot about six inches long. Dare I prune it and how far back?

Have a look at the base of the plant to see if there are any shoots.

They are quite difficult to find because they are thin and spindly. But if you can see them, cut off all the dead branches right down to the level of the ground as soon as possible.

The new shoots will quickly grow and the base of the plant will be covered with leaves, whereas those not pruned like this will have lots of dead-looking wood during the summer.

Once pruning is completed, fork the soil over lightly with a hand-held fork and scatter a tablespoon of Vitax pelleted fertiliser over the soil surface before repeat- ing the forking over.

This slow release fertiliser will start to dissolve in about three weeks’ time but will last for about eight weeks.

How about treating yourself to a clematis?

Clematis plants are in pots at all garden centres and there is a label and a

picture of what they will look like when they are in flower.

We simply look at the picture and choose the colour and size of blooms we like best. Light colours brighten up shady areas whereas blues and reds are brilliant in sunny spots.

Dig the soil where they are to be planted to a depth of about a foot and break up the clods to a really fine tilth so that the soil is backfilled around the root ball.

Plant the climber so that there is a covering of soil two to three inches above the surface of the root ball. This will prolong the life of the climber.

Break up the base of the hole really well because they enjoy a generous root run. Add half a cup full of

Vitax Q4 fertiliser to the soil.

Fold the soil into the hole and gently firm the surface. It annoys me to see the experts crushing down the soil with wellies, it’s wrong! Water afterwards.

The climber will need support, square trellis or horizontal wires 10 inches apart or a wigwam shape of pea sticks will be okay.

Clematis adore sunshine at the top of the plant and a shaded root.

They love water too and if grown with half the roots in water and the other half in well-drained soil they will be in heaven.