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Tale of the Wisteria


In 1990 I bought a wisteria from Wayside Gardens. I had visions of it sheltering and shading the ‘piazza’ on an arbor right in front of our house. Unfortunately the arbor wasn’t yet built.

I kept watering the potted wisteria and kept hoping that my husband and son would get together to build the arbor some weekend. This didn’t happen until my birthday in August. I happily put the little wisteria in the ground next to one of the supports, never worrying about the poor quality of the soil there. Somehow I had gotten it into my head that wisterias like lean soil.

Years passed. The wisteria put out a little growth and I wondered how it had ever gotten its reputation as a vigorous weed. My husband swore at it and said if it didn’t grow to the top of the support (about 12 feet) by the spring of 2000 he was going to rip it out. The plant heard and duly warned it reached the top and rapidly began spreading out across the top of the arbor. I did my part and started topdressing with lots of compost, and watered it well. I learned that wisteria love rich soil and water.

Five years later the wisteria provided the shade I had longed for. But no blooms. Then in 2006 it was filled with breathtaking bloom. We could hardly believe it. We took pictures. We invited friends over to admire it. We ate under it. We marveled.

The winter of 2006-07 was bad with temperatures that fluctuated. Very cold then almost warm. In the spring of 2007 we thought the wisteria was dead, but couldn’t bring ourselves to do anything radical like take it down. In fact, new shoots kept coming up from the roots and we thought we could kind of start all over.

This spring we watched a few buds struggle to fatten during wisteria bloom season and thought again about taking it down. Then we realized some of those buds were flower buds. And look where we are now. In my own better late than never way, the wisteria has several blooms and the foliage is again spreading over the arbor.

So many lessons. First, do better research when planting. Second, get a plant in the ground as fast as you can. Third, be patient. Fourth, even in the face of death, remember that life will not be denied. Procrastinate. Be patient. Celebrate!

3 comments to Tale of the Wisteria

  • Northern Shade

    It is funny how we struggle to find just the right conditions for some plants, while others flourish with a few more strikes against them. I’ve been surprised by a few perennials that I thought for sure were gone, and then there they were again the next year.

  • shirl

    Hi there Pat 🙂

    I came to see your GBBD post and was drawn to this one!

    I too have a wisteria and I waited almost 9 yrs for a flower. It is now in its third year of beautiful white scented blooms! Like you I agree it was worth waiting for 😀

    BTW Your blooms for GBBD look good too. Best wishes from Scotland 😀

  • Pat Leuchtman

    Northern Shade,
    There are definitley many mysteries in the garden!

    Shirl,
    I’m so pleased you found your way to the commonweeder. I love having reached Scotland – land of the Selkie. And thistle. I should know more about Scotland than that. I’ll have to get to work.

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