Friday, April 29, 2011

The Scent of Wisteria Fills the Air

A garden is a multi-sensory experience. It isn’t just about looks; it’s about hearing the birds singing and the bees humming, touching the fuzzy leaves of Lambs Ears, tasting the freshness of homegrown veggies and herbs, smelling the flowers, and rubbing your fingers on lavender, rosemary, or basil for that brief whiff of happiness.

Can you see the bird?
At this time of year it’s the scent of wisteria that fills the air of my garden. You walk onto my front porch or go through the garden gate and you’re enveloped with it’s heady fragrance. It’s intoxicating. It’s magical. Throughout the year I curse the invasiveness of the wisteria as I prune and dig out vines from all over my yard, but in the spring it makes me giddy.

Wisteria through the garden gate.

Vine wisteria by the garden gate and tree wisteria in background.
 I first fell in love with wisteria when I was in England and saw it clinging to the side of a cute cottage in the Cotswolds. It conjured up romantic notions just seeing it’s dangling flowers and smelling it’s heavenly fragrance. After all, it was the promise of “wisteria and sunshine” that lured some London women to spend holiday in Italy in the book/movie “Enchanted April.” When Brian and I were looking at houses to buy and I saw the wisteria vines at this house, I knew it was meant to be. (That, along with the built-in bookcases, the greenhouse, and the screened-in back all was perfect.) Little did I know what I was getting myself into with that wisteria!

Wisteria on the front porch (with an Azalea).
 I once read that wisteria grows 10 feet per year and I believe it! I have to prune it at least twice a year, if not more. It also pops up everywhere in my garden beds. I’ve dug up vines as thick as my arm when trying to plant – having to saw them out in pieces with my hand saw. A neighbor said that our property used to be overgrown with it. That been said, if you're interested in growing wisteria, my suggestion is to look for the American variety instead of the Japanese one.  The American kind is not as invasive.

Wisteria on the shed/workshop and growing up a tree.
 I also have a wisteria tree, which still needs pruning, but is much more tame than the vine variety.

Tree Wisteria.
 Come early to mid fall, you’ll find me either on the roof or on top of a ladder entangled in the wisteria vines trying to prune it to a manageable level. (Tip: Don't prune it too late in the season, though, or it won't bloom in the spring.) As much nuisance as it can be, it’s all worth it when I see those gorgeous lavender flowers and breathe in that amazing fragrance. Nothing beats it. Who cares about smelling the roses when you can smell wisteria!

A close-up of the lovely Wisteria flowers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Beauty of Spring

There is something fresh and rejuvenating about the first days of spring. Even the air smells different as green things sprout from the soil and buds form on trees. Spring is refreshing and reviving after the hibernation of winter. I become somewhat hermit-like during the cold days of winter. Come spring I can't wait to be outside enjoying the wonders of nature.

In the spirit of renewal and new beginnings, I am starting this garden blog. It is my way of keeping track of what's going on in my garden and sharing information on classes I've taken, gardens I've visited, garden-related art, and other garden miscellany. The look of this blog will no doubt change as I learn to use it – being that I'm a graphic designer it has to look good! In the meantime, here are some photos that I took a few weeks ago of the jubilation of spring bursting forth in my garden. It seems only natural that I begin my "Daffodils and Daydreams" blog with some daffodil shots. In a sense, daffodils are the flowers that first planted the gardening seed in me. When I was a little girl, my sisters and I used to play in the woods behind our house. There was a long-forgotten garden there that we used to love to visit in spring. There was a mass of daffodils in the dappled sunlight under massive trees. It was like a fairy-tale seeing that sea of yellow. (We used to pick some to bring home to our mom – shhh, don't tell anyone.) There was a small pond with a cement bridge and on the other side was a mass of tiny blue flowers. It took me years to figure out what those flowers were – Scilla Siberica ("Spring Beauty").

I wish I knew what kinds of daffodils these are, but I "inherited" these from a previous owner so I'm not sure. They look lovely in the sunshine, though, don't they?

I planted this Helleborus Bridal Queen just last year and have fallen head-over-heals in love with it. It's a double form (obviously) and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's flowers have lasted much longer than I thought they would. I love the little maroon / pink dots on the petals.

Along with the helleborus, these purple crocus are the first flowers to bloom in my yard.

And of course forsythia (can you spot the small, green bug?)...

And I had to end with some Scilla Siberica since it's a childhood favorite. If only mine looked like that ocean of blue that I remember in that long-forgotten garden of my youth. They spread, so maybe one day they will.