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.
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.