Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gardening: Wisteria Vine

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne. – Marcus Aurelius

Some day mine will look like this... Photo: @BlogChicaViajera, Flickr ccl
It’s 10:30am and it just started to rain as I pushed the mower back into the garage. That was close. It’s supposed to rain from now until Monday until Nova Scotia – if you believe CTV’s Cindy Day, meteorologist extraordinaire. 

This was the growth at the end of May: 2 sad buds.
I don’t much care for her or her prophesies. She’s the kind of meteorologist who takes glee in snow forecasts. Does she not shovel? Does she not drive? 

I would have posted earlier but I needed to get the mowing done before the rain started. I have two fairly large lawns I tend every two weeks and if I miss my slot the grass waits for another 14 days. Not good. As it was I was “making hay” in some parts of one yard.

One thing mowing does allow me to do – besides let off steam – is to inspect all the plants and see how they are doing now that summer is officially here. Where is the time going?

One plant I was surprised at was the wisteria vine. It has grown quite vigorously. Four weeks ago there were two sad blooms hanging on what looked like a lot of stalks that had a very hard winter. Unhappy looking  would have described it fairly well.

Same corner as bud photo.
I have a pergola topped deck on the back of the house and at some time in the future I hope to sit underneath and enjoy the long panicles of purple flowers that will be hanging overhead.

Every winter brings winter kill and my dream seems a little further away. This year’s growth stirred all those hopes again.

And what a difference a month makes. Some of the new (that’s this year’s only) that has emerged from the branches is in excess of 5 feet long. That’s four weeks growth. Amazing.

Wisteria is an excellent vine to try if you have somewhere to plant it that receives a lot of sun. Interestingly, when mature, it provides excellent shade. So if – like me – you want a deck that has both sun and shade plant a wisteria vine at one end. Of course it needs support, but not necessarily a pergola top like I have. That’s just icing on the cake.

Wisteria is a native of Southeastern North America (which I didn’t know) and China, Korea and Japan. They are a woody, climbing vine that is quite ornamental both in flower and in leaf. 

A piece of the new growth. My foot at bottom right.
They are members of the pea family and the flowers resemble pea blossoms, just much longer and far more of them. Wisteria can climb 60 feet high by 30 feet wide so when mature can put on quite a show.

I have two beautifully scented Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) that bloom before the leaves emerge. North American and Japanese wisterias bloom in mid summer. So you have a choice when you purchase as to flowering time.

Wisteria are quite hardy (USDA Zones 4-9) and fast growing. When planting think of the vine in 20 years. The trunk can grow to be as thick as your wrist (I have seen thicker on very old specimens) and will crush any support that isn’t up to the task. Lattice will not do. Wisteria can be pruned to keep it behaving.

There’s a reason I have two wisteria growing up the back deck.I lost a 15-year-old plant a few years ago. The main stalk divided quite low to the ground and as it matured the stress from the upper part of the plant caused a split where they joined.

Rot set in and that was that. In hindsight I should have sacrificed one of the leaders to make a sturdy stalk for the plant t thrive.

Every year the wisteria blooms it’s a cause for celebration. So far on the new plants I have only had a blossom or two. But give them time…

Climb, baby climb...

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