I like plants that I can hack at and mangle without fear of consequences, and it is this quality that may be wisteria’s saving grace as a garden feature. Otherwise, why would we put up with it? It’s alien, it’s aggressive, its roots have been known to heave up paving, and its branches can easily lift off a roof. Though the blooms are lovely and fragrant, it blooms in profusion once in the early spring and only sporadically after that. For many, many wisteria-owners, the vine never blooms at all, going for a decade without a single flower. And regardless of bloom, from early summer to late frost, we can count on having to trim it back almost every other day.
Bad plant! Bad plant!
Sometimes I wonder if I have one of the baddest wisterias of all. Mine has become a weird triangular mass bridging the corner of our garage and the pond area. It kind of looks like a huge, leafy baseball cap hovering above the garden. The fronds grow continuously, reaching over to the neighbor’s and down to the pond. It does bloom, but maybe better if it didn’t, because the flowers become trapped between the upper and lower branches, unable to hang free in the graceful way a properly trained (ha) wisteria should. You have to go and stand under it and look up to see them.
So it should come as no surprise that I have been sharpening all my pruners, preparing for a large-scale, aggressive, and utterly punitive attack on the beast. The idea is that if I thin out the lower branches, the blooms hanging from the sunny upper branches will become visible. It’s not the proper time to prune wisteria, but this is the only time I can clearly see the branch configuration, which later will be hidden under a mass of leaves and other vines (some campsis and clematis that use the wisteria as support, as you can see above).
Anyway, I can’t wait for a chance to start chopping this thing. I know it can take anything I dish out; there is virtually no way—short of bulldozing and dynamite—I can kill it. And that’s why I love it. It wants me to attack it; I can take out the aggressions of a year of Mondays on it and it will still be there. Ready for more.