One of the loveliest gardens in Malaga is that of Jardin La Concepcion, They have some fabulous examples of mature trees from all around the world and a stunning lily pond. But, the jewel in their garden for most people, is their wonderful tunnel of wisteria. Formed of decorative ironwork, the trunks of the wisteria now seem to support the ironwork rather than the other way around! This week they have started the vast task of winter/spring pruning of the wisterias, a timely reminder that we should be doing the same.
Wisteria needs pruning twice yearly and it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Don’t leave it to get into a total muddle and a daunting task!Late
Winter pruning: This is an important prune for shaping and with the vine clear of leaves, it’s easier to see your framework. If your vine is well established, you should now clearly be able to see the flowering spurs and developing fat flower buds; take great care not to damage these. During the previous summer your vine will have produced numbers of long whippy shoots. If you wish to extend the coverage of your vine, then you can carefully train some of these into position. Tie them into position. But many will probably need to be cut out. Do this by shortening back to about 5cm, or to two or three leaf buds as these will develop and form new flowering spurs in years to come.
Summer pruning: Once the main flush of flowers is over, the vine goes into full growth production, pushing out new shoots at a rapid rate. As above, if you want to extend your vine’s coverage, tie some of these in to stout supports but the remainder should be shortened back to stumpy branches with five leaf buds that will, subsequently, produce flowers. The rampant growth rate during June, July and August will make this a constant task during the summer but it avoids a tangled jumble of stems at a later date and is well worth it for the early springtime glory that you will achieve.
There are two types of wisteria; wisteria sinensis, Chinese wisteria, is the one you’ll most commonly find here. It flowers before the leaves appear and has stems that twine anti-clockwise – always follow its natural tendency. Wisteria floribunda is the Japanese wisteria which bears leaves and flowers at the same time, though the flowers can cascade long and dramatic. It twines clockwise.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, what could be more exuberant than a wisteria with its oh so romantic flowers tumbling and draping. You could even form your own wisteria ‘tunnel of love’ in lilac or white.
Incidentally, if you want to see the wisteria tunnel at Jardin La Concepcion in its full glory, give them a ring and they’ll tell you when best to time your visit (usually around the end of March).
Wonderful Wisteria by Lorraine Cavanagh. Published February 2013.
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