'Stylish climbers’ with wonderful wisteria!
Branches laden with glorious flowers are perfect for capturing the mood of late spring and early summer. Wisteria is a ‘love-it-anywhere’ plant, as perfect around a country house or the courts and quads of ancient colleges as it is on a new-build. The hanging bunches of pea-like flowers bring a feeling of affluence and style wherever you find them – as with all the best plants, they are always in fashion.
Climbers like wisteria are a possibility for every garden – they’re incredibly economical on space. And when it comes to climbers, wisteria is an especially good choice because it’s tough and easy to look after, as well as putting on a breathtakingly beautiful display every year once it’s established. It also provides attractive features beyond simply the blooms. The foliage of some wisteria, for example, turns a lovely yellow in autumn.
Wisteria x floribunda (Japanese wisteria) is one of the best choices for flowers now. It’s a vigorous, twining climber that produces racemes (long, hanging clusters) of violet blue flowers in spring and early summer. Foliage is refined and attractive too, with numerous leaflets in the foliage lending it an almost feathery appearance. Some superb varieties to look out for are: ‘Alba’ which produces white blooms in racemes up to 60cm long; ‘Multijuga’ is outstanding because of its exceptionally large flower racemes – the largest of any wisteria at up to 90cm.
Wisteria sinensis (Chinese wisteria) is often the one you see growing around older houses and gardens. Varieties include ‘Sierra Madre’, which produces very fragrant, lavender-violet flowers. ‘Alba’ bears white flowers and ‘Prolific’ will yield an abundance of lilac-blue or pale lilac-blue flowers. Look out also for hybrids when you go shopping or garden-visiting. Wisteria x formosa is a great example (crossed Japanese and Chinese wisteria). Flowers of this hybrid are fragrant. ‘Black Dragon’, which produces purple-violet flowers, is a real beauty.
Wisteria is generally hardy and quite fast growing. It’s happiest in fertile, moist, well drained soil, but will tolerate poorer soils too. Full sun or partial shade is equally suitable.
As well as visual benefits, we now know that plants improve air quality by removing harmful substances as well as humidifying the air and helping to moderate extremes of local temperature. Best of all, perhaps, they’ve been proven to make us feel better simply by being there. So if you’re looking to bring some green benefits to your home, maybe wisteria should be number one choice to start with?