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Wisteria Hysteria! - Everything you need to know about this enchanting vine

Wisteria is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, that produces cascades of violet or white flowers in spring. In many cultures, the climbing flower is a symbol of love, sensuality, beauty, immortality and endurance. In this post, we'll dive into what makes this enchanting vine divine.

 

Types of wisteria you'll find in the UK

You'll find two common types of wisteria here in Britain: Chinese and Japanese wisteria. A noticeable difference between these two types is that Chinese wisteria turns anti-clockwise, while its counter part turns clockwise. The flowers on the Japanese wisteria are also larger, more pronounced and fragrant.

 

Above: A picture I took of wisteria climbing 4 stories high, found next to Greenland Dock, London. Can you guess the type of wisteria based on how it turns?

 

Wisteria around the world

The Sierra Madre wisteria is the largest in the world. Named one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world, this colossal vine weighs over an impressive 250 tonnes and spans an entire acre of land. The Sierra Madre vine was seeded in 1894 by Willian and Alice Brugman and in 1990, with over 1.5 million blossoms, the vine gained a Guinness world record for the largest blossoming plant, a title which to this day it still holds.

Located in Sierra Madre, California, the great vine is on private land but is open to the public once a year during the famous Wisteria festival, where it welcomes visitors from far and wide.

Another remarkable wisteria vine is the Ofuji (Japanese for great wisteria tree). The Ofuji was seeded in 1870 and is located in the Ashikaga Flower Park, Japan. The Ofuji produces wisteria in several colours; a beautiful Earthy red, violet, white and a buttercup yellow.

 

 

Where to find scenic sights of wisteria in London

Wisteria climbing up the iconic white townhouses in London is a picturesque scene. In Victorian England, wisteria flowers were a symbol of romance, beauty and intense devotion. Amongst Victorian citizens, wisteria was a favourite choice for expressing love and admiration. Samplings from China were brought over in 1816, and thanks to London's temperate climate and well drained soil, wisteria flourished and continues to thrive.

Locations:

  • Lansdowne Crescent, South Kensington: A delightful spot to see wisteria in bloom on the iconic London townhouses.

  • Campden Hill Road: Wander up this road and you'll find one of London's underrated wisteria spots. The usually naked pergola transforms into a stunning lilac tunnel during spring, dripping with tendrils of wisteria.

  • Bedford Gardens, Notting Hill: There's a particular house in Bedford Gardens that attracts photographers like bees to honey. This ancient wisteria plant spans 3 heights, creating a captivating curtain of lilac blooms.

  • Golders Hill Park and Pergola, Hampstead Heath: To the west of Hampstead Heath, Golders Hill Park features wisteria creeping across trellises, framing views over the Heath. The pergola promenade is a must-see.

  • Kynance Mews, Kensington: In this quiet part of Kensington, one house disappears behind a lilac curtain during spring. The cobbled street and mews-style houses create a bucolic setting for perfect wisteria photos

 

Above: Wisteria in Notting Hill, credit @lauracolesyssmith on Instagram

Growing wisteria of your own

Thinking about growing wisteria in your garden? Here are some things to keep in mind!

Wisteria is a beautiful and elegant looking vine, but it requires careful consideration when choosing a planting location.

In ideal conditions, wisteria can grow a few meters high in just a few years. If you're thinking about planting wisteria near a wall or fence, take into consideration that the wisteria is likely to span the entire area. Consider whether the walls or fence will provide a strong enough support system for the vine.

For optimal growth, plant wisteria against a sunny wall which will reflect heat back onto the vine. Alternatively, consider a tall, South facing wall to ensure that the vine receives full sunlight from above.

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