The first time I saw a clematis flower, I thought it was the most exotic flower I had ever seen. Since then I've learned that the many varieties of clematis—small, delicate, and fragrant to large, showy, and colorful—demand different kinds of care.
The first I noticed of wild clematis were the fluffy remains of the flowers covering landscape plants along I-5 in Portland. They were not the landscape plants—they were sprawled upon the landscape plants. Next I discovered the vines, long and thick, hanging from trees in our neighbor's property and on ours. They reminded me of Tarzan.
And then I learned the damage wild clematis can do. A two-hundred foot tall hemlock on our property, overloaded with the heavy vines, began dropping branches—branches the size of trees, not something you'd want to fall on your head. Some broken branches are still hanging high in the tree, just waiting for a strong wind to dislodge them. Perhaps the tree itself will fall. I'd like to cut those vines, but I'm reluctant to stand under the tree to do it.
The wild clematis of the Pacific NW is not a vine you want to cultivate. They do sometimes appear in my garden. Suddenly they are standing there, eight inches tall, strong and rigid. It's that rigidity that clues you in to their attitude, and you don't want to leave it to grow another moment.
In the spring and summer the leaves and bunches of tiny flowers are attractive. And for that matter, the winter fluff and the giant vines are attractive. But it's like self-esteem that gets out of control and turns into stubborn pride. Get rid of it before it takes hold.