Features Ed Blog: The Wisteria Hysteria

the wisteria hysteria

Watching it thrive or fail from year to year has given Features Ed Alex a case of the wisteria hysteria!

The first year we moved into this house, we could see that the garden had been left alone for a bit. Everything was in need of a prune, though it was nowhere near as wild as it is now! We’ve let it slide over the last two years — our new arrivals, a son and a daughter, have kept us fully occupied.

But I’ve still managed to get out and trim the things we really care about. The roses. The fruit trees. The buddleia. And the wisteria.

However, the wisteria and I don’t get along too well. The pic above was taken the first summer after we moved in, when it gave us a beautiful profusion of flowers. Picture postcard stuff!

In the following years, I took a closer look and realised that technically it was in a pretty untidy state. Branches crossing over all over the place, and the mesh fence it was climbing up was falling apart. The wisteria would have to be cut to replace that section.

Then It All Went Wrong

2019’s pruning season came around. I did my research, then got stuck into the pruning. Yet we had fewer than half the flowers, not to mention a big hole in the middle.

the wisteria hysteria

2019 – not a success story! Photo by Alex.

What had I done? Would it ever come back? Fortunately, we’ve had an opportunity to being again, somewhat. My wife’s father replaced the terrace fence last year to make it more secure for the kids. So I pruned the wisteria right down, and I’m now hoping for a second chance as it grows back up.

This is the first summer of it being left to regain its former size, and I’m optimistic that things will get better.

I recently interviewed Bob Flowerdew from the BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time for the “Friend”, and was hoping to pick his brains. However, one of my questions was “What do you most commonly get asked about?”. His answer, with a hearty sigh, was “Wisteria”. Wherever he went, whenever he was approached — he told me — there was a good chance it would be about wisteria. Invariably, it was slightly desperate and tormented folk like myself wondering what we’d done wrong!

So I decided not to mention it at all. I got the impression that — at least, in his philosophy — it was slightly out of a gardener’s hands. Some years were good for it, others not.

Here’s hoping 2022 is the year that ours recovers some of its former glory!

Read more updates and news from the team over on the Team Blog.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.