Posted: 10/06/2014 at 17:34
Slugs and snails can do an awful lot of damage very quickly to emerging clematis. I've lost an entire stem of one of mine and that was the culprit. Loads of buds and foliage wilted overnight and died off. If you trace back to where the shoots have come out the ground you might see the evidence - they strip the outer coating from the woody stem and it's curtains. They often eat the new soft growth but once the plant gets going it's easy to forget that they can still do some serious damage. Sounds like that's what's happened. I've taken all the dead stuff off the affected stem and I've been more vigilant - but I found and dispatched a huge slug hiding on a nearby plant just after the stem started to go.
I've used pine cones round my Clematis - with great effect. They don't like them at all!