UP THE GARDEN PATH…
LOUISE TOMLIN TAKES A LIGHT HEARTED LOOK AT GARDENS AND LOOSELY RELATED TOPICS. THIS TIME SHE’S LOOKING AT MYSTERIOUS WISTERIAS…
Well I can hardly believe it, but as I sit in early March and write this garden piece for the April/May edition I am actually outside with my laptop in my garden in the warm spring-like sunshine. It is just so lovely today I couldn’t bear to stay inside whilst working. So I decided being outside would be good for me and not only top up my vitamin D but lift my spirits too.
Deciding when and where to work is definitely one of the benefits of working for yourself. That’s the upside, but there are downsides to being out here, when I pause for thought and glance around the garden I can’t help but notice that there are quite a few jobs that need doing, sooner rather than later.
There’s the obvious cutting back of old dead growth to reveal the beginnings of new shoots, general tidying up and taking stock of what has fallen victim to the recent minus temperatures courtesy of the ‘Beast from the East. These are high on my list of favourite gardening tasks. One not so favourite is pruning the Wisteria, which I’m reliably informed should happen after winter around March, when it’s easier to see the structure of the plant as the foliage has fallen off and when buds are starting to appear.
It’s not the actual pruning I dislike, it’s the lack of success I have with these beautiful climbing plants. I’ve had them for about 7 years now, and despite studying the instructions of experts on many websites and how-to videos, my results are just pitiful.
How to Prune Wisterias In summary, this is what I’ve gathered from the experts – you have to cut back the woody shoots with buds on them to 2 or 3 buds and no longer. Also, you must cut back all the long, whippy, wild shoots that spring out all over the plants that make them look (especially if they are mine) like they need a damn good haircut! And keep doing this last bit periodically throughout the growing season to keep the plant looking tidy. With these wild shoots removed and the other more woody growth reduced to a couple of buds, the plant will be encouraged to produce the most wonderful array of decorative, dangly blooms – like hell they will!
Year after year I have suffered bitter disappointment when come mid-summer and we are still ‘sans fleur’ the realisation dawns that I have once again failed to crack the mystery of wisteria flowering.
The lack of flowers on the wisterias is a bit of a touchy subject in our household. There have been times when my partner has said it’s about time I forgot all the ‘expert’ advice and just cut them back down to the ground and let them get on with it. Believe me, this is probably what I will do if I continue to have such dire results. When we are out and about we can suffer serious ‘wisteria envy’ when we come across a magnificent specimen in all its blooming glory. It can often spark the heated pruning debate again and put a damper on things.
There was a tiny glimmer of hope last summer, that has convinced me to give it a go again this year and that’s the one wonderful bloom I found dangling prettily from one of the plants when I had given up all hope of ever seeing one. Sadly I didn’t photograph it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Talking of photos, as I haven’t got one of my own wisterias flowering I would like to thank my friends at Provender Nurseries for letting me use this one of a couple of rather nice ‘standard’ wisterias. Standard refers to a plant that has been trained to grow with one long central stem with the leaf and flower growth at the top.
Well there’s a thought, maybe I’ll have to buy some of these or just cheat by planting some climbing ones that are already flowering next to the old ones? But first, I’m off to get the secateurs and have another go at pruning these yet again, here’s hoping!
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