Monday, February 04, 2013

Wisteria: You Can Grow That!

A Love/Hate Relationship

Asian Wisteria aka Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) or Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) is not to be confused with our better-behaved, Native Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). I have the native 'Amethyst Falls' and it came back last year for me, grew a foot, put on a tiny flower, then did pretty much nothing all summer. This year, there is a green leaf trying to sprout and that is it. So much for natives being "easier" and more suited to our gardens. I have babied that thing and this is how it rewards me?

A few years ago, I went with the Garden Writers to our regional meeting at Mt Cuba and on to Hagley Museum and Gardens. There, adorning the front of the Georgian-style mansion Eleutherian Mills (pictured at top and in close-up here), the first du Pont family home in America, was the most spectacular, wondrous Wisteria I'd ever seen. I took about 30 photos of it. I could have stayed all day. I was enchanted and enthralled. It reminded me all over again just WHY I'd accepted the piece of invasive Wisteria root a friend had dug out of a nearby park and added it to my garden. I had been warned. I knew the risks. I certainly had heard all the horror stories. I didn't care. I was in love. I had seen the Wisteria vine draping the side walls of the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall and I wanted it too. This bad boy was mine and once he got to know ME, he'd surely be tamed, right? Well, you all know how that story ends. I can't say we didn't have our good times. He produced some wonderful memories for me as he bloomed profusely and multiple times in one season on my garden arch framing my pond entrance. We took many photos together there in each other's embrace.

Then I tried to change him. I moved the arch to the front garden and attempted to hack him back into a tree standard form. He rebelled -- sending out tendrils and roots in every direction. He no longer blooms for me. Nor will he just give up and leave. When I see him now, we both turn away and sulk. Secretly though, on long summer nights, I think back on what could have been if I had not tried to change him and sigh.

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Dave Marciniak said...

Soooo... I have a client for whom I planted wisteria back in 2008. It didn't bloom consistently, until last year. When I commented on the gorgeous profusion of blooms, the client told me "Dave, someone told me how to make it bloom. I went out, buck naked, during a full moon and beat the **** out of it with a broom. And it works! See?"

Does correlation equal causation? Who cares? I got great photos this year.

gardengates said...

Remarkably flexible plants, wisterias can be a little more challenging to grow here in the chaparral. But I love using them in English garden designs. I hope you and your wisteria find peace and bloom together once again.

WashingtonGardener said...

Thanks you Dave M and GardenGates for sharing you Wisteria experiences. :-) said...

I love how you made this plant a "male." And we all know what happens when human women try to change their human male! Too funny. Coincidentally, I am very close to planting a wisteria. I have the pergola but do I have the guts to do it? Then again, I've had my ups and downs with men and plants. Although I don't think I want to take Dave's friend's advice... Thanks for the laugh and moment to possibly rethink.

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Kerrie A. Bartlett Walsh
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