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We would have all of them, but sadly even here we have run out of space. Even pruned they do make big shrubs.
I also like H, grandiflora, which is very similar. H,g Red Annabelle is rather nice.
No favourite, I like them all, even the one which has died three times on us. Japanese place name. Memory has gone. Actually I do have a soft spot for Vanille Fraise though.
We cut ours back to a pair of healthy buds about 25 cms above the ground. (10 inches). Feed them and they soon throw up good shoots which flower.
We do this with all 12 of the H. paniculata we have. About now is the time too,
Don't actually have a picture of the view from our garden at present. Would be a bit like Lou's if I could get up high enough.
There is nothing you can do to prevent it, other than plant deeply.
We have over 100 Clematis in the garden and I have never seen wilt here, even in the most susceptible types.
Very country. Soil is silt/peat. Very windy garden. Frost pocket. Half the national average of rain (except this year). Fast draining very rich soil. (ex outdoor reared pig farm.
Been a garden or sorts since the 1640's.
Don't know where your worry is coming from, but wilt in clematis is very rare. More often than not when a plant dies down suddenly, it is because of slug or snail damage at the base of the affected shoot.
All Clematis except perhaps the very dwarf ones and herbaceous types do better with deep planting.
If you left any of that root it will regrow.
I do spend a lot of time here removing self seeded Cotoneasters of various types, but never seen any outside the garden itself.