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Blooming Vine Amazes Columnist
Forgive me if I seem a little giddy. I can’t help it. Something really gid-inducing happened.
My wisteria bloomed.
I know what you’re thinking: “This man is easily amused.” Either that or “Of course it bloomed, you moron, it’s Spring and that’s what flowers do in the spring – they bloom.”
Well, it’s not quite that simple.
Let’s start with the plant. Wisteria, which many mistakenly believe was named for Owen Wister, author of “The Virginian,” is a flowering vine that actually comes from the same plant family as peas. The flower stems flow down from the vine in a sort of cone-shaped cascade of sweet-smelling blossoms. The vine can grow to enormous lengths and will, over time, develop a tough, woody trunk. Meanwhile, the green shoots grow extremely fast and have been known to pull down trellises, engulf small animals and camouflage entire neighborhoods.
What it does not do readily is bloom. At least, mine doesn’t. I’m beginning to think the name, Wisteria, is actually from a Latin word that means “I’ll bloom when I’m good and ready and not a second before.”
I’ve lived here 12 years. In all those years I have seen this plant bloom once, and that’s now. And before you begin carpet-bombing me with gardening tips (not that I don’t appreciate them) let me tell you I have followed every wisteria tip I could find. I have trimmed it back severely in July and again in February. I have severed some of the roots. I have fed it all the appropriate fertilizers. I even removed a trashy silver maple that was blocking the sunlight (and, coincidentally, threatening to fall on the house).
I have done everything short of burying a white chicken at midnight, under a full moon, while chanting “Farley Farley Farley” and dancing the Charleston. Nothing.
I would explain my plight to fellow wisteria owners. I use the word “owners” instead of “lovers” because I found quite a few whose frustration dwarfed my own. Generally, this was because they had once known the delight of a blooming wisteria and now hoped in vain for a return engagement. At least I had the advantage of never seeing mine in bloom. You can’t miss what you haven’t known.
Usually, they suggested all the things I mentioned above, including the one about burying the chicken. When I would explain that I’d done all those things, they would sort of give me an apologetic smile and a shrug. It almost became like a secret handshake for wisteria victims.
Which gets me to this year and the morning last week when, out of the blue, or to be more accurate purple, flowers appeared on my wisteria. Real ones. Attached to the plant and everything.
Talk about happy. I grabbed my camera to record the event. I called my mom. I even made an announcement on Facespace in which I said something about never knowing I could be so pleased by a vine.
Of course, I don’t know why it happened, why it decided to grant my wish after 12 years. I wasn’t systematic in working with it. I just tried everything. Almost. See above under “white chicken.”
I’ve been told this is a great year for flowering trees and for wisteria. I agree. They’re everywhere and they’re beautiful. And this, too, might explain my giddiness.
Hay fever medicine does that to me.
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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