Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Wisteria ‘is a vision of a paradise’

Wisteria is a kind of flowering plant that – when carefully cultivated – can make a very beautiful contribution to a garden.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph in the UK, celebrity gardener and former presenter of the Gardener's World television show Sarah Raven asserted that it can create a "vision of spring paradise".

"Imagine walking through a wood at this time of year in the hillier, wilder areas of Honshu or Shikoku Island in Japan and coming across a stream valley where almost every tree is dripping with wisteria," the expert continued.

She explained that wisteria floribunda is quite commonplace in these areas and reaches the peak of its flowering around this time of year, which is why it has associations with the spring season.

This particular strain of the plant is a woody liana that was first brought to the US from its native Japan by George Rogers Hall in 1860.

It has become highly romanticized since then and can grow to lengths of over 30 meters, characterised by shiny, dark-green, pinnately leaves that can stretch to anywhere between ten and 30 centimeters.

The genus was named by the botanist Thomas Nuttall in memory of the physician Dr Caspar Wistar.

Wisteria can also be grown quite cheaply, which could make it the ideal choice for gardeners who are on a tight budget, or those who simply wish to avoid spending too much in the current economic climate.

In an interview for gossip and lifestyle magazine Female First, another former Gardener's World presenter Toby Buckland asserted that all wall climbers offer great value.

He explained that their effectiveness at hiding boundary walls and fences can help to create the illusion of more space in the garden.

Furthermore, the distinctive smell of many different kinds of vine can really add an extra layer of beauty to the garden.

Ms Raven described wisteria floribunda's scent as being fruity and tuberose, with a mild hint of camphor.

She said that it is able to clamber up walls so its flowers can soak up the sun's rays more effectively.

The plant does not need feeding either, as it gets its own nitrogen. This is another reason they do not need a great deal of financial investment. However, Ms Raven added that they really benefit from lots and lots of water when they are flowering, so it will always pay off to do a little garden work.

It is also worth giving some consideration to where you intend to grow the plants, which Ms Raven explained differs according to which species of wisteria is chosen.

For instance, wisteria sinensis – or Chinese wisteria – is earlier to flower and can really flourish on the south side of a house.

This variety is characterized by counter-clockwise twining stems. The leaves are shiny, green and pinnately, while the flowers can be white, violet, or blue and grow to around 20 centimeters long, peaking in mid-May.

"They are hugely floriferous and flower well before the leaves appear, so they give an excellent show," Ms Raven explained, adding: "Trained over the front of a house, they look like an Edwardian Kipling-style moustache, curling forwards a little before hanging down and their powerful fragrance is lovely drifting in through open windows and doors."

Ms Raven also recommended wisteria that produce a deeper-coloured flower, suggesting macrobotrys in particular.

"It always looks good from the moment when the flower buds appear and start to elongate, until every bud is fully open and flowering. It flowers from the top down and continues to elongate as the spike develops," the expert explained.