Clematis are among the most exotic flowering climbers in the plant world, outshining rivals when it comes to elegance and beauty, making them the undisputed 'Queens of the Climbers'. The flamboyant flowers come in colours of white, cream, blue-violet, pink, pink-mauve, green-yellow, red, blue and purple, in single and double forms. Of the 300 species of clematis spread all over the world, most are deciduous but a few are evergreen. These members of the buttercup family are happy to twine their way through small trees and shrubs as well as on walls and over fences. When planting take care as the young growth is easily damaged. Choose a position that ideally gets six hours of sun a day with a fertile, loamy soil. If your soil is heavy, dig in sand mixed with compost. To plant, set the top of the vine about five centimetres below the soil level then cover the roots with a layer of mulch. Clematis are like liliums in that their foliage and flowers should be in the sun while their root-run needs to be kept cool and moist. Mulch to keep the roots cool is essential in the successful cultivation of these beautiful plants. Farmyard manure, compost, straw, composted pinebark and chicken manure based on sawdust or wood shavings are all excellent choices. Clematis, unlike most other plants, will not suffer from stem rot caused by too thick a mulch. In fact, they relish a deep mulch and to get enough of it they will send out roots from the mulch-covered stems and in many varieties, will send up new strong shoots from below the mulch. When it comes to watering clematis, as a general rule, they need 25mm of rain or water every ten days to keep them growing actively. Thus your watering must make up any deficiency in rainfall in each ten-day period. Twenty-five millimetres of water is equivalent to 25 litres per square metre. This is a lot more than most people imagine many plants need to thrive, not just survive. Clematis can become entangled so need pruning to keep them under control and to promote healthy new growth to produce the masses of flowers they are renowned for. Pruning methods vary with groups but basically the summer-flowering types that produce flowers on new wood benefit from hard pruning during winter, cutting back to a strong pair of buds low down on the plants. Early-flowering clematis bear flowers on old wood from the previous season, so little pruning is necessary once they have become established. A light pruning back to a strong growth bud is all that is needed to encourage flowering. Our own native clematis, Clematis aristata can be found in light woodlands which have a moist soil and is commonly known as 'old man's beard' because of its white, fluffy seed heads. The foliage is shiny, deep green with triple leaflets which are heart-shaped and especially attractive when young. There are some stunning new clematis varieties to choose from in plant centres. June 2: The North West Tasmanian Lilium Society bulb sale, Latrobe Memorial Hall, 11am-1pm. Monthly general meeting follows at 2pm. June 18: Australian Native Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Mick and Helen Statham to speak on Flora &amp; Fauna of Iceland and Scottish outer islands. June 19: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, 8pm. Shane Newett, holder of state record for pumpkin weighing 553.5kg will pass on his tricks of the trade.