Gardening Magazine

A Wisteria Called Patience

By Ozhene @papaver

I have mentioned previously that I have a favourite quotation by Gertrude Jekyll "A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust". This has been my favourite quotation for many years. When I first joined twitter it was my profile statement and whilst I had not realised it at the time, when I stop and reflect I realise that this quotation runs through my life like letters on a stick of rock. I am not by nature a patient person (people who know me are now rocking with laughter at the mere suggestion that I could be), but in the garden I am patient (mainly). In the garden I am able to wait and hope with the slightest suggestion that maybe next year it will be ok. My standard wisteria is a good example of this patience.

A wisteria called Patience

Way way back in 2012 I went on a long weekend to Devon. I intended to visit a particular garden and arrived in Devon to find it was closed. I had already planned my other garden visits and this gap in the itinerary gave me the opportunity to fit into something else. As you would expect I wrote about this and included that I popped into a nursery and bought a white wisteria. I bought it intending to grow it as a tree as I had seen many standard wisteria at various gardens and just love them so much. I bought a wisteria in flower as this is the best way of knowing a) what colour it really is and b) that it is at flowering maturity. Small unflowering wisteria may be may years away from the flowering and this is just frankly disappointing. Yes, yes I know the whole point of this post is about patience but I am not getting any younger - time ticks on....

A wisteria called Patience

I planted the wisteria into the garden and put a nice sturdy post behind it. I tied it in and started plaiting the stems. Year in and year out I have plaited and woven the new shoots in and out of itself. Building up year upon year a trunk that can stand upright. I cannot hand on heart tell you that it is self-supporting yet. Every now and again it breaks from the post and leans a little more than I would like so I tie it back up. The post is not hugely noticeable these days and I wait patiently for the day it will be able to stand unaided.

A wisteria called Patience

I prune it every February and August and every year it rewards me with these long racemes of flowers that pour scent into the garden.

A wisteria called Patience

Looking from this side you can see that there is one purple stem. This must be part of the original root-stock starting to re-emerge. I know I should remove it as I would not want it to completely revert. One day I will, one day.

A wisteria called Patience

Some years the frost damages the buds, but this often prompts it to recover and give a second and sometimes even a third flush of flowers. This year though, as if it knows I need the boost, the wisteria has been magnificent. It is almost as if it knows that this year is not an easy one.

A wisteria called Patience

In these Covid days the need for patience woven through with hope seems even more pertinent. Like most people I have good days and bad days. When people ask me how I am I smile and say I am good. Often when I say this I am, but there are days when this is not so true. Those teary days when things set me off that I least expect. Those days when I get scared about what the future is going to be like. I know I am beyond lucky to have my garden, I have never appreciated this as much as I do now. When these days get on top of me I have to keep hoping: I have to keep thinking it will be ok, there will be an end to these lockdown days. I have to have patience and I have to have trust and the garden patiently continues to teach me.

Stay safe all.


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