If there ever was a plant that captures the imagination of a gardener, it's wisteria. This is the 3rd write of failure. The first was failure of region. The second is the uncontrollable failure caused by Mother Nature. This post is about failure to say "no more" or as I'd like to call it, "I must be dumb". Failure comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Many times it goes beyond just experimenting with a plant or a dream; it teaches us things about who we are and how resolute we are to making them work. That's where the dumb part comes in for me. I'm as stubborn as an ox. After many journeys of seeing this plant and attempting to grow it here in Tucson, here is what I have to say.
It is said to grow in Tucson. Where? I do not know. Have I seen this plant here? No. Do they sell it in Spring at the garden centers? Yes. Have I attempted growing this plant? Yes and many many times. Once you've seen one grow over an arbor, it's takes your breathe away. They do well in California. Did it grow for you? Yes. I have a green thumb and can make anything grow. Did it grow well? No. Did you place it in different exposures? Yes. How much money have you spent over the years on this plant? Too much. Why are you so dumb? I don't know. I like to dream big, but instead I failed big with this plant. Will you purchase this plant again when it tempts you this spring in the garden center? I'm trying to control my plant addictions and impulses. I am hoping my body and mind will cooperate. The mind must say no and the hands stay low from the shelves.
This is the personal conversation that goes on in my head everytime I see the bare rooted plants in their bags for 5 bucks. They are similiar in growth to the grape, which by the way, grows extremely well here. I will be honest folks. I am not giving up on this plant because I feel that once I have the right spot for it, I will be able to create something very special. It is said to grow in Tucson but as a man of plants that has a good eye.....I've NEVER seen this plant in our city yet these guys are the first to disappear off the shelves. There might be someone out there in town who has one like the picture above. However, I do know this. In winter, it will lose its' leaves here and in summer, like a strong vine, it will grow. It does like sun, but the tricky part is making sure the desert sun doesn't burn the plant which it can do. It also needs some water to establish. The soil is key for this plant. Our soil is mostly clay here. I do not recommend planting this species at all. For most people, it will disappoint. If you want those beautiful purple flowers, I recommend the Mountain Laurel which is a slow growing evergreen bush here. It has intense purple flowers and a smell that will blow you away. More about that plant later. If you want a similiar type vine like wisteria, try a native grape vine or several of the varieties of grapes.....or the purple lilac vine. I've used those plants and they've done extremely well. Don't be too tough on yourselves....sometimes a challenge can be a good thing in the garden. This is the expected failure.....you know you've failed many times with a plant, but you still want to keep trying because maybe the next one may succeed......and sometimes it does. The answer to this failure is perserverance or moving on. I have several more failures coming up for this series, until next time.....happy gardening!