A Wonder – and a Warning


I got a call from Edwin Graves who said I had to come and see the wisteria on his rental property in Greenfield. He told me it had climbed into two cherry trees, but he didn’t tell me those two trees were 60 feet tall, and that the wisteria climbed into the very top reaches.

Sarah Jean and Edwin Graves

The Graves bought this Greenfield house for her parents back in about 1981. Since they moved out in 1989 the house has been rented to other families. The wisteria was there when they bought the house and it occasionally bloomed. Sarah Jean said she was always cutting down plants that popped up in the lawn. And so it went for some years.  Invisibly climbing and spreading, until this year.  My snapshots don’t give any sense of what it looks like to have two 60 foot trees decked with hundreds and hundreds of beautiful wisteria blossoms.

This photo is of more wisteria shoots that are now climbing four smaller trees and they are very pretty. But you can surely see the problem.  A plant that grows rampantly up tall trees, spreads to neighboring trees, and has little offshoots growing all over the ground can be a concern.  The Graves don’t know why the wisterias have bloomed so amazingly this year. There was an old chicken house and run next to the cherry trees years ago, and we did have a lot of rain last year (wisterias love rain and rich soil) and we’ve had a lot of rain this spring – are those reasons enough?  Hard to say.  Those of us who have grown wisteria know that they can be moody and unpredictable plants.  The vigor of Chinese wisteria like these can lift roofs off house and pull off clapboards – as well as climbing 60 feet.  It is easy to understand why horticulturists now recommend planting Amethyst Falls, Wisteria frutescens, a native American wisteria that is smaller and not as vigorous, but it blooms at a young age, and will rebloom during the season – great benefits.

Still – The Graves’ wisteria is a wondrous site and I thank them for the chance to see it.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Carol

    I can easily believe Wisteria can grow that tall… I pull runners in my garden that seem as long as sixty feet. Though it is so beautiful in your photos and real life. It must be kept in check. Good tip about the native wisteria. I just did a post on my wisteria too… it is it’s time! Your friends must have been a sight to see. Gorgeous photos Pat!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow

    I just love wisteria but don’t have one for the very reasons you have shown here. They are a marvelous plant. There was a wild one across the street from where I live that went up trees and across power lines. It was taken out this spring. I miss its big beautiful blooms welcoming me home.

  3. Pat

    Carol – I have to keep slipping my runners, too. Once a plant popped up in the lawn, some distance from the mother. When I planted mine I was more worried that it was too tender, than too vigorous.
    Lisa – I was very glad to learn about the W. fruitescens Amethyst Falls.

  4. Layanee

    I have noticed that the wisteria seems to be much showier this year here in Southern New England. I did wonder if this was my imagination but you have verified that it may be a regional condition. Hmmmm….something for the Garden Professors perhaps. Great shots.

  5. Carol

    Pat, I must come back and protest a tiny bit. Your photo of the wisteria hanging from a sixty foot tree… is so fabulous! Mine cannot capture that amazing wisteria feeling. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to stand beneath those dangling blooms! Truly! Stunning! ;>)

  6. Pat

    Layanee – I also have seen or heard about other amazing wisterias this year. Do you think it is all the rain? If so, there is a lesson for all of us about watering.
    Carol – Thank you. It was amazing.

  7. Oh my goodness, that’s beautiful! I’ve got ‘Amethyst Falls’, but it’s young yet. It has reached the top of the pergola and it has a few blooms on it, but I don’t expect it to really take off until next year. Thanks for sharing this awesome wisteria with us!

  8. Pat

    Kylee – At least Amethyst Falls will stop at taking off, and you don’t need to worry about it taking over.

  9. Tinky

    I can only imagine how these blooms must have smelled!

  10. Janice Sorensen

    I am so happy to be seeing all the wisteria pics and talk. I adore wisteria but did not think it would do well in our region. I myself have been getting a little whysterical over here in Holland; seeing it everywhere(!) like I have never seen it in western Mass. I think the theory on the watering must be correct because as most people know, The Netherlands is a soggy country.

  11. Pat

    Tinky – You are right about the fragrance. Heavenly.
    Janice – I never thought of wisteria as growing in Holland, but maybe the key is watering. You can have wisteria!

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