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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label Wisteria. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label Wisteria. Show all posts

      Wednesday, May 20, 2009


      (Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

      The Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) that I once planted near my kitchen door and trained to form an archway over the back steps, reached the roofline of the house, scrambled across the eaves, escaped up the cedar shake roof to the chimney. It ran so far that I could no longer prune it. The sensual flower panicles diminished and ultimately stopped. We sold the house.

      OK, the two events were
      not related but twenty
      years later I craved an-
      other wisteria, one that
      I swore I would keep
      under control and force
      into continuous bloom.
      For my New York City
      rooftop, I chose a selec-
      tion of the native Amer-
      ican variety W. frutes-
      ‘Amethyst Falls’.
      It grows only 15-20’ high
      rather than 28-50’ as do
      the Japanese and
      Chinese imports, but
      the flower racemes are
      somewhat shorter and
      the scent less intense.
      Three-year old American
      wisteria (photo on right)
      blooms about two weeks after the non-natives and is still mostly in bud. This plant gives my garden vertical appeal and helps to soften the steely look of the fence. Husband Ben, aka String Boy, tied it to the bars where it can twine happily. The container is 22" in diameter and includes a few lilies that bloom in summer and many October onions (Allium thunbergii) that are the last flowers to burst forth in late fall and will continue until December.

      When I want to admire the
      imported species I can
      go to the north end of
      the rose garden at the
      BBG, the Conservatory
      Garden in Central Park,
      or the terrace of the
      Cooper-Hewitt Museum
      and revel in the arches
      of wisteria or go to any
      neighborhood of brown-
      stones and see the
      twisted vines climbing
      four stories or more.
      Most grow in containers
      at street level but some
      are in-ground.

      Wisteria grows in full
      sun or part shade and
      is useful for privacy in
      some backyards pro-
      vided your fence, trellis
      or post is seriously strong. Notice in the lead photo, the pillars are made of CONCRETE. For an excellent discussion of pruning techniques see Cass Turnbull for PlantAmnesty.org.
      The fresh vines pruned from any wisteria are easy to weave into fabulous wreath bases, but that’s another story.

      The four story vine on
      the right grows in a
      2' x 6' planter at street

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