This magnificent flower has always been one of my favorites. The first time I planted wisteria was from a cutting from my grandmother’s yard. Mom said to put some rooting hormone on it and stick it in the ground. I was skeptical but, lo and behold, a glorious vine began to grow. Having loved it my whole life but not understanding its strength, I decided to plant it so it would grow across the banister on my front porch. A few years later, I had to replace the banister and re-train the wisteria. It was a valuable lesson.
This time of the year is my favorite. It’s like everything is coming back to life after the winter. It begins with the daffodils, the redbud trees and the tulips. Then it’s phase 2 with the dogwoods, the lilac trees and my favorite…..the wisteria.
It’s a fascinating plant. They can climb as high as 70 feet and as wide as 30 feet. They need little, if any, care once they are established. They climb by twining their stems around any available support and produce really cool seed pods (which are poisonous). Historically, wisteria symbolizes long life and mortality. Some of them last more than 100 years. Isn’t it amazing to think about our daughter’s grandchildren enjoying the same beautiful flowers that we love today? In Japanese theater, it symbolizes love , sensitivity, support, sensuality, bliss and tenderness. I can see why.
It only lasts a couple weeks so you have to take the time to seek it out. You can find it growing along fence lines and on the side of the road. But my favorite is to see it running wild and free up in the trees, blooming its brilliant purple plumes. I liken it to a Southern woman….strong and resilient, yet delicate and beautiful.
Last Spring, I was driving through Sherwood and I happened upon this show of this gorgeous tree. I was so enamored that I stopped and talked with the man who owned the house. He told me that the wisteria had been planted before he bought the house in 1949. It had wrapped its strong, woody vine around the tree and now it has become one with the tree. You can barely tell where it ends and the tree begins. It is amazing how the tree and the wisteria, for more than 70 years, have grown together, both strong and beautiful, neither of them giving up their identity but truly becoming one. There are certainly some lessons in that for all of us.
When we bought the farm, there was a wisteria that had been trained as a stand-alone specimen, a tree, if you will. It has never been my favorite way to see wisteria grow, but this year, my perspective is a little different. Every time I walk by this glorious “tree”, its intoxicating smell takes my breath away. Sometimes I walk outside just to look at it and take in its beauty.
Once it stops blooming, I’ll be doing some pruning, dipping the stems in a little rooting hormone and sticking them in the ground all over this property. I’m sure it’ll take a few years, but someday I hope to have those glorious vines running all through the woods. Now that’s going to be fun.
It makes me smile and it is such a good reminder that we have to take time to literally stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy!