Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wisteria at Longwood & Thoughts on Wisteria in Small Gardens

Wisteria on the pergola in Longwood Garden's Wisteria Garden.
Wisteria on the pergola in Longwood Garden's Wisteria Garden.
Longwood Garden's Spring Show 2012 was full of pretty things... (See the tulip borders if you missed them!) But I think that I was most excited to get to finally see their Wisteria Garden in bloom. Wisteria has such a decadence about it and reminds us that purple is the color of royalty... though of course white, and even pink varieties exist (see Wisteria floribunda 'Kuchi-beni’).


The Wisteria Garden was originally designed by Longwood's creator, Pierre du Pont, to showcase his beautiful vines. The typical pergola-trained vine is present (above), but most of the plants are "tree-trained." This forgotten form of training a wisteria has a distinct advantage for the small garden owner; the wisteria remains vertical and compact. It would be easier to prune when the height is restricted, instead of towering about on a twelve foot pergola for instance. And it does solve the problem of finding a place to grow your wisteria where it is unable to rip the porch off the house or send the gutters amiss, etc.  I am very much intrigued...

The frequently asked question of "why does my wisteria not bloom" is heard all about the gardening world. I once read the suggestion to shock it into bloom by beating it with a baseball bat! But before you have the neighbors calling the police on you for wild behavior, perhaps you should read this very sensible article by Sarah Raven, Wonderful Wisteria. She reports that most wisterias "revert back to their rootstock" when we fail to pruning away the shoots from the bottom. (Much like the growth on grafted roses.) Prune these away, and your vine will have a chance of putting more energy into the grafted variety to produce those beautiful flowers.

Looking down into the Wisteria Garden from the main path. You can also view from here the two large Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) in this room.
Looking down into the Wisteria Garden from the main path. You can also view from here the two large Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) in this room.
Tree-trained wisteria vines could much more easily fit into a small, urban garden. Here they have planted several purples as well as a scattering of white varieties.
Tree-trained wisteria vines could much more easily fit into a small, urban garden. Here they have planted several purples as well as a scattering of white varieties.
Here you can plainly see the tree-training of this wisteria vine. They have used metal poles as the center support and guided the vine around it, pruning out the shoots into "branches."
Here you can plainly see the tree-training of this wisteria vine. They have used metal poles as the center support and guided the vine around it, pruning out the shoots into "branches."
The placard explanation posted in the Wisteria Garden. The arborvitae hedge does indeed provide a visual barrier to feature the wisteria.
The placard explanation posted in the Wisteria Garden. The arborvitae hedge does indeed provide a visual barrier to feature the wisteria.
The glorious purple of wisteria.
The glorious purple of wisteria.
Walking toward the wisteria pergola...
Walking toward the wisteria pergola...
And spotting the large trunk of one of the Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) as a focal point to the pergola walk - wonderful garden planning at work.
And spotting the large trunk of one of the Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) as a focal point to the pergola walk - wonderful garden planning at work.
The flowering varieties in Longwood's garden include:
Wisteria floribunda 'Alba', 'Geisha', 'Longissima', 'Rosea', 'Royal Purple' and 'Violacea Plena'

Other Wisteria resources:

19 comments:

  1. The pictures are beautiful !!! gr., Diny

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    1. Thank you so much for all of your kind comments, Diny! I enjoy all of the beautiful photos at your blog as well.
      ~Julie

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  2. Thanks for sharing. You learn something new every day!

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    1. So glad you are enjoying reading along, Emily! Are there any topics that you would be especially interested in? I have so many posts running through my head all the time, but not nearly enough time in a day to write them all!
      Julie

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  3. This is such a stunning presentation of Wisteria and a beautiful sight. Thanks for this posting. I did not get to Longwood Gardens when I was in PA, but did try to fit it in. So many beautiful gardens are in this area and not enough time and stamina to see them all.

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    1. So glad to help you not "miss" this one :) I would love to run into you next time you are traveling about PA.
      ~Julie

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  4. Ah, the Wisteria... It was in full bloom when we visited Italy a few years back. There's nothing like it! I've tried to grow it here, with very little luck. It would be so pretty growing on my arbor. Love your photos!

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    1. Thanks Beth! I bet the wisteria in Italy is beautiful... part of why I love reading Christina's blog at My Hesperides garden. I do not have a wisteria yet, and will not at this property. But I hope to at our net house :) So much fun to come.
      ~Julie

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  5. Before one plants Wisteria one should know that it is considered invasive in some areas, so do your homework before you buy one.

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    1. Always good advice, no matter what plant you are looking at. If you are from northeast US, then you will want to check out the last link that I mention for Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls', which is our native wisteria.

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  6. Absolutely stunning and what a super way to grow them, if only I had known that when we moved here 21 yrs ago! Wonder how many years it takes to form trees like the ones in your photos?

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    1. After a bit of research, it appears that these vines were planted in 1976. I guess that would make most of them nearing 40 years old, though some seemed younger than others. They are currently struggling because of the shade from those beautiful bald cypress trees. Apparently they are considering replacing them with lilacs... so sad I think.

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  7. That is gorgeous and beautiful and stunning . . . . I have two little 'Blue Moon' wisterias starting to grow up supports on either side of my house. They haven't bloomed yet as they're only 2 years old. It's hard to be patient, but at least these are an American wisteria hybrid instead of Chinese or Japanese - those Asian wisterias are supposed to take a decade or more to get large enough to bloom. Of course it wouldn't take as long in an area with a longer growing season than Spokane. So are you going to invest the years of patient care to make your own tree form?

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    1. I would love to! This property is not going to be the place for it though. When we make the "big move", it should be one of the first things I get started I guess. My new garden wish-list is growing daily. :)
      ~Julie

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    2. It is always best to buy a wisteria that is already flowering, they don't have to be that big. Many wisteria don't flower because they have been grown from seed rather than a grafted cutting. Christina

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  8. Julie these wisteria took my breath away... incredibly designed gardens and beautifully photographed...really I was enthralled ny your pics...they really showed them at their best!

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    1. Thanks Donna! I am flattered and pleased that you like them. They were incredible vines for sure!
      Julie

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  9. Julie, thanks for linking to my blog. I forgot how gorgeous the wisteria at Longwood is. You captured it beautifully. I will have to go their next year. Carolyn

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  10. Julie, thank you for this post, informative and inspiring as usual. I've been having internet problems (hopefully now resolved) so haved kept up with all the posts I usually follow closely. As you know I love wisteria and although it can quite high maintenance it is worth it for its lovely cool shade. I've seen standard wisteria but never trained as a tree; stunning, I really would love to try this! where is there space????????????
    Christina

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