Gardening Magazine

The Old Forge’s Wisteria

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

I don’t often post about The Old Forge (one of two gardens I work in) but I will today.  I want to show you something.


In the front garden, by the main gate, a Clematis montana sprawls over a flint wall.


I have mostly left it alone but by last summer a tsunami of vigorous, writhing stems had rolled forward on to the bed below and climbed up and swamped the strawberry tree behind.   Fearlessly, recklessly even, I strode in wielding my secateurs and cut back the thicket of growth very hard.  I pulled masses of branches out of the tree and tugged loads more off the wall and out of the border.  Even after such harsh treatment, the clematis has put on a brave face and a decent amount of flower.  Having reduced the beast by about three-quarters, I shall keep it tamed in future whilst allowing it to spread further along the wall.

But that isn’t what I wanted to show you.


At the back of the house, there’s a wisteria which, over the past five years, has done virtually nothing.  It has sat and sulked; non-flowering, non-shooting, annoying; drawing perilously close to bow-saw and bonfire.  But then last year it produced a flower!  One solitary flower.  Who knew that one bloom could bring such pleasure, such excitement (at least to me)?  And this year it has produced not one flower but a dozen!  Were that not thrilling enough (and it is pretty thrilling) it has also thrown out long sinuous stems; stems I can train along wires – put up years ago in easy expectation.

But that isn’t what I wanted to show you.


Here’s what I wanted to show you – another, larger wisteria at the front of the house.  It was a single, barely flowering column when I started work here in September 2010.


Since when, I have pruned and tied and whispered; erected wires


and trained whippy, brittle shoots.


A darker coloured variety would’ve sung out more against that white mortar and flint.


But I’m not moaning (at least not much).


I’m still training and extending it along new wires, further and further along the house.


In the meantime I’m just relieved it has, at long last, earned its keep.  (Even if it isn’t blue).

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