Of the many climbing plants I grow, the wisterias win the beauty contest by a country mile.
In full bloom they're a stunning sight, the huge clusters of flowering racemes hanging among pale bronze fading to green, pinnate leaves.
The scent is overwhelming.
Espaliered against a wall, trained as a standard or draped gracefully over an arch or a pergola, every garden should have one.
Mind you, wisteria has its faults and it's handy to know them before you choose one and start digging.
Most are massive climbers, reaching on average 10 to 12 metres - I once saw an entire hillside in Hebei covered in pale mauve W. sinensis.
Restraining a full-grown plant takes time-consuming pruning at least twice a year.
Wisterias can send out underground runners for several metres whose removal is another time- consumer.
Although the vines are frost hardy their flowers are not, so the spring display can be touch and go for highland and inland gardeners.
Lastly, you have to be patient, wisterias can take at least five years to flower.
Bill's much loved W. floribunda 'Alba' took a decade to get its act together, though it was worth waiting for.
Despite these challenges, wisteria is a wonderful climber for country gardeners, not least because we have room for them.
Given full sun, moderate rain and reasonably fertile soil, they are pretty well trouble free.
Chinese wisteria (W. sinensis) is my favourite, it's entwined in my DNA, one flowered every summer on a south facing wall of my parents' home in Kent.
I was thrilled to inherit a lovely, well established one when we moved here.
Later I transplanted a sucker to grow over an arch leading to our entrance paddock which flourished.
Wisteria expert Peter Valder recommends the cultivar 'Consequa' for its abundant summer flowers that are a darker, more reddish violet than the spring display.
The Japanese wisteria W. floribunda is popular for its dramatic racemes of purple flowers, up to 1m in some cultivars.
It lasts longer in bloom than W. sinensis and has good autumn leaf colour, a clear golden yellow. A pink flowered form is available, W.f. 'Rosea'.
If you're short of space, the American W. frutescens, the first wisteria to be grown in the west, has a cultivar 'Amethyst Falls' which reaches 2m to 3m.
It's impossible to write about wisteria without mentioning Peter Valder OAM (1928-2023), the botanist, horticulturist and author whose book Wisterias (1995) is the definitive work on the subject.
Beautifully written and illustrated, it describes over 60 kinds.
Peter Valder's former garden Nooroo at Mount Wilson (www.nooroomtwilson.com.au) opens in spring and autumn.
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