Posted: 12/02/2014 at 23:49
Ah Little Garden Gnome. Hello and welcome. Mike is also registered disabled, so I can well understand some of your feelings. Don't fret. All of us on the forum are only too pleased to help.
Firstly, it is a big mistake of the majority of us who grow clematis. Even I. The dreaded Surgeon of horticulture, tend to leave the clematis out of the cutting back program. To be honest. I was taking stock of my clematis just the other day. Oh! what a tangled mess. In regards to youngish plants, the idea is to cut back almost to ground level. For more mature subjects, especially if you have trained yours to cover a fence or wall. Then by this time you probably have several main stems, or trunks. In this case, take your time or seek help. Working outward from each main stem. Check for signs of fresh buds etc. Cut back to three or four buds. When completed your clematis will look quite naked, but you will be able to forsee next seasons growth. Believe me. You won't be dissappointed.
Problem if left. Clematis as with so many climbers. New growth will start on the outside. As with Lonicera. You end up with a bird cage effect. Masses of dead undergrowth. Given time the plant will take over your garden.
Hope this helps.