Thirty Days in the Garden: Wisteria

I’ve admired Wisteria vines forever, but I never dreamed I could actually grow one. They need full sun and a sturdy trellis for support, and once established they can be tree-like in stature.i

A few years ago we had to remove one of our magnolia trees due to an unrelenting case of scale. I manually scraped off the scale after pruning away the inner branches. It was a tedious and unpleasant job, but I really wanted to save the tree. The scale returned the following year. According to the arborist the scale probably came with the tree. Without a toxic application that would harm all insects, the tree wouldn’t survive.

Nasty business: scale-infested magnolia

As sorry as I was to see the tree go, it made room for this love Wisteria.

We moved an under-utilized arched trellis from the back garden to support the vine. It took a couple of years to train the Wisteria but it’s now a lovely shape.

Wisteria growing in our front garden

It surprised me to learn from Wikipedia that Wisteria is a member of the legume family. Further, the article described Wisteria as a “woody climbing bine.” I puzzled over that for a while, having never heard the term bine before. I eventually realized it was a typo. No judgement as I make plenty of typos myself, but I had a good laugh nonetheless.

Wisteria vine along the ramp

Pictured below, left to right: rhododendrons, gardenias, freesias, a white camellia, native grasses, branches from a healthy magnolia, and my trusty garden cart near the fence.

I’m pleased that the flowering vine is doing well.

This walkway is a gently sloping ramp. The sign says Sharon’s Way. My sister has MS and could no longer visit our home, so we had a landscape architect design a ramp from the curb to the house. It’s subtle and beautiful.

24 thoughts on “Thirty Days in the Garden: Wisteria

  1. It’s beautiful Alys. I love Wisteria but our location is a bit rough for them as a late frost may spoil all the flowers. I saw many at temples in Japan when I lived there. (My goodness, that must be 30 years ago now! ) Have a peaceful Easter weekend. πŸ˜ƒ

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    • Cathy, what an amazing experience for you living in Japan. It’s on my list of hoped-for travels. Everyone I know who’s been has a fabulous time and raves about the food, the culture, and the graciousness of the people. I’m sorry you can’t grow Wisteria in your garden, but you make up for it with so many other gorgeous species. Easter here has been lovely. I hope the same is true for you.

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    • Thank you, Laurie. My sister has fought the good fight for over 20 years. She has Primary Progressive MS, which means she’s never had a remission. It’s been a hard year, as her inability to swim at the YMCA has made her weak and tired. Until this year, she swam 365 days a year, then showered in the disabled stall before getting ready for work. She now works from home, and gets the chance to shower twice a week after physical therapy. This pandemic has taken its toll in so many ways. Thank you for your caring words. xo

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  2. Perfectly dreamy and certainly the envy of every gardener. I remember you doing the scaling of the magnolia, yuck ! I was glad you included the last photo. I couldn’t figure out from the first couple where it was. I mistakenly looked at your neighbours house as part of yours and thought, is this some kind of secret alcove I haven’t noticed before, ha! Oh the joys of California! We had wedding photos taken under beautiful Wisteria, also in April. 20 years ago now, how the heck? πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ°

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    • April is a wonderful month for getting married. Congratulations to you both. I don’t think you’ve been here when the Wisteria bloomed. Some years it blooms twice, now and later in the summer. I love everything about it including the color, the scent, the fabulous seed pods and the way it drapes just so.

      Happy Easter.

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  3. The son and I tried to grow a wisteria at his house in S. Calif. Unfortunately, wisteria is not a fan of high winds and he had that in spades in the high desert. Poor thing never got a foot hold so you have done quite well with yours. The ramp just blends in so nicely though she’s probably not getting any use of it these days. I was thinking of her today.

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    • Thank you for thinking of my sister. Sadly, you are correct. She hasn’t been able to drive since October, so between that and the pandemic, our visits are limited to her home, masks on. What a strange time this has been.

      Reading about your son’s attempt to grow Wisteria in SoCal makes me think that although unplanned, have our Wisteria sheltered between our home and the neighbors, with the larger Magnolia in front to buffer the wind keeps it protected. A happy accident.

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  4. It probably wasn’t a typo… I knew I’d heard the term before so I went hunting:
    Vine: A vine plant climbs using tendrils or suckers to cling onto a supporting pole. Its stem grows vertically, all the twisting and gripping is done by the tendrils.
    Bine: A bine plant wraps its stem (not tendrils) in a helix around a supporting structure. The bine’s stem is the flexible, twisting part of the plant unlike the vine. A bine has stiff hairs to provide structure and solidity as it grows.
    Not that it matters one bit; your wisteria is a glorious colour and has a very elegant habit.

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  5. Oh, Alys! Your Wisteria is positively dreamy! I so wish these lovely plants could tolerate our winters here in Zone 5. Just knowing that you grow Wisteria in your beautiful garden makes my heart smile! Sharon’s Way, paved with love, is so very special. I think of you and Sharon so often, Alys! Sending big hugs for both of you!!πŸ’—

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    • Dawn, when the Wisteria is in bloom, it’s easy to see why it’s featured in so much art. It has an ethereal quality about it that I love. I will occasionally stand under the arch and simply enjoy the sensation of being surrounded by all that beauty. I wish you could grow one in your garden, but I LOVE what you grow, especially when I realize the work that goes in to any garden. Your garden is tops.

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