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Evergreen clematis overhead? Yes, if ...

As rambunctions as it is beautiful, evergreen clematis needs plenty of freedom to be at its best. Architect William C. Wherrette designed this 12-foot-square canopied deck to take full advantage of the vine's fast-growing habit. A strong but open support system lets flowers and leaves tumble through, allowing the homeowners to enjoy the clematis from under the trellis as well as from above (second-story windows look down on it). In this case, lengths of reinforcing web--the bar used to reinforce concrete-block construction--run side by side between two 4-by-12 beams. You could substitute sturdy redwood or cedar crossbeams. The bars (sold through contractor or masonry supply shops) are held in place with steel eye screws and interlocked with heavy-gauge wire at 2-foot intervals.

The vine shown here is an eight-year-old Clematis armandii with a trunk that measures 7 inches around. This single plant has spread quickly, covering a major part of the trellis in just four years.

The plant thrives on normal garden watering and a cup of evergreen plant food (5-10-10) scattered at its base in midsummer. A hard pruning following spring bloom prevents buildup of dead thatch and is the secret to keeping the vine looking good. All old, woody, or unwanted shoots on the inner vine are cut out and pulled down through the trellis (it's a full day's work).

Throughout the year, the long trailers that develop around the edges of the canopy and ones that dangle down through the bars all get clipped back. The result in a lush crop of new growth continuously covering the deck.

Flowers are allowed to linger as long as possible. As petals litter the floor, they're swept up; when all are gone, withering stem clusters that held them are picked off where they can be reached, allowed to drop naturally where they can't.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1984
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