I have been taking stock of the Clematis in the garden and reading up about how to prune or propagate them. Softwood cuttings are best taken between April and June from the mid-sections of strongly growing vines. The tips will be too soft and the lower parts may be too woody. Prepare the selected section of vine by cutting through it immediately above a leaf joint and again about 3-4 cm below the same node. Remove the excess foliage to reduce moisture loss. Insert the cutting into compost up to the leaf joint. Label the pot and water it gently. Cover the surface of the compost with grit to deter slugs and retain moisture. Place in a well-lit area out of direct sunlight and maintain a humid atmosphere by covering with polythene or a propagator. Bottom heat will aid rooting but is not essential. Rooting should occur in four weeks. Pot up separately when rooted but if they are not ready by late summer delay the job until next spring and grow the cuttings on for another year before planting out.