Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Obsession With Plants – This Spring Its Wisteria

My Obsession With Plants – This Spring Its Wisteria

It is approaching mid-March and the plant catalogs have been arriving en masse. So rather than work on the project my husband had planned for me today, I plopped myself down in a chair with my garden catalogs and laptop and began investigating the best source for non-invasive wisteria that are likely to bloom before the end of this decade.

When we first moved to our little piece of heaven seven years ago, we had fantasies that we would tame our wild environment replete with faux soil that is a mix of clay and shale and requires a pick to plant a small perennial and a backhoe to plant a tree. We imagined that within five years we would have created our own Garden of Eden.  Part of the vision included our front porch dripping with the sweet scent and pendulous lavender blooms of old fashioned wisteria. 

So, were did a neophyte gardener turn for plants? Why, eBay, of course. I ordered 3 twigs of Chinese wisteria, planted, fertilized, and watched with wonder as it grew faster and higher than Jack’s beanstalk. Then we waited and waited and waited …and no blooms. I searched online for tips on forcing wisteria to bloom. For three summers and winters I pruned and hacked and tried to shock the roots- only to see the vines grow higher and faster and larger while pulling the porch railing apart.

At Thanksgiving this year, my mother-in-law and father decided the invasive monster had to go. So, the entire family sawed, dug, cut, untwined, and disconnected the wisteria from the house. When my husband emerged from the basement, he was most distressed. Surely, in only a few more years it would have burst into bloom.

I was more sanguine. I had done my research.  I knew I had erred in buying the unpredictable Chinese wisteria on eBay. Since then I’d found, the Holy Grail of garden websites. I knew I needed a different cultivar of wisteria and where I could find it. The “watchdog” page shares the 30 highest rated mail order sites complete with user reviews. The database includes at least 4181 companies with more than 70,000 reviews by customers. You can also search for a particular plant and find the companies that have them for sale complete with a link to the website. I try to stick with The Watchdog 30, which do change as the reviews change.

My wonderful parental units with their ever- clever wits gifted us at Christmas with a check specifically targeted for new wisteria. The time had come.  Today was the day. So this is what I’ve ordered – 3 different cultivars from Sooner Plant Farm – a Dave’s Garden favorite.  They will be shipped at the appropriate time for our planting zone. And I know, in no time at all, we’ll have our classic southern front porch dripping with those glorious lavender blooms.

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