Clematis wilt is most often the result of poorly drained soil or over-watering.
Minter Country Garden / PNG
August is the perfect month to start, because it gives materials spread onto a patch of poor soil, weeds or lawn plenty of time before winter to compost down into a bed perfect for spring planting.Q. I am keen to begin planning for a food garden, but the only place I have for it would be part of the lawn, converted somehow into a “kitchen” garden mainly for salad vegetables and a few herbs. I’ve heard of “lasagna” gardens. Would that work? When would be the best time to begin?A. August is the perfect month to start, because it gives materials spread onto a patch of poor soil, weeds or lawn plenty of time before winter to compost down into a bed perfect for spring planting.First, define the area. Water it well, then put down thick cardboard (I use flattened boxes), overlapping the sheets to eliminate gaps. To be sure of smothering the lawn and weeds, I place a thick layer of newspaper over the cardboard before adding wood shavings or old sawdust.Subsequent layers can be anything compostable: aged manure, straw, grass clippings, leaves and fine garden cleanings such as young weeds. Keep the building mass moistened. In the spring, top the bed with finished compost, good garden soil or planting mix before planting. If desired, the bed can be edged with boards, bricks, or whatever you might have on hand.Q. Why would some of the stems on a young clematis vine collapse, just as flowering had begun?A. The cause is probably clematis wilt, a condition that is most often the result of poorly drained soil, over-watering, or/and limited air circulation around and through the plant. Sometimes, but not always, a fungus fostered by these conditions is involved.The remedy is to immediately remove and destroy affected stems, making the cuts at least 2.5 cm beneath the wilted portions. Avoid over-watering and over-fertilizing with nitrogen.Clematis vines need a cool, moist, but well-drained and deep root run.Clematis wilt almost never afflicts the small-flowered and least hybridized kinds of clematis. These include the spring-flowering Montanas and summer-flowering Viticellas. Clematis viticella varieties flower all summer and are wonderfully easy to grow.