Many years ago I bought a wisteria plant at a local garden center. When I got home and took it out of the package, a stick fell out. Just a stick. No root ball hidden by the cardboard label. No indication that it would survive, much less become a magnificent vine heavy with pale purple blossoms.
But, since I had bought it, I planted it out by the stucco wall in the backyard. And just to be safe, I placed a tomato cage around the stick so that nobody, thinking it was a weed, would mistakenly pull it up.
The stick grew inch by inch over the next several years, but not one flower appeared. Then one day, the plant grew large enough that it no longer needed its protective cage. It was also big enough that we needed wire cutters to set it free.
But still no flowers.
Just as I was giving up hope of ever seeing the pendulous flowering vine that I was sure would transport me to the lawn at Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey, the Sunday New York Times featured an article about wisteria. In it, the writer detailed her own travails with the plant, and she noted that it could take ten years before the first blossom appeared.
We were on year nine when the Times published that article and, wouldn’t you know it, the following summer we awoke one morning to find three small blossoms. Pale lilac in color and emitting a heady perfume, they were beautiful.
But, there was no foliage!
Now, all these years later, we have three distinct seasons of wisteria. The first consists of blossoms on bare, gray branches. The second gives us foliage with no blossoms. The third features both. The vine has grown so hearty that it has spread along and over the wall, and into our neighbor’s garden.
You’d never know that it all begin with a scrawny stick.
They say that patience is a virtue. If you are longing for wisteria, I’d advise you to develop a healthy dose of it.