I have a client who cuts off all her wisteria flowers. She loves its ability to follow a wire and create a precisely controlled woody structure, but hates the simpering mauve of the flowers.
I have a simpering mauve wisteria that I don’t even have to think of de-budding. Frost does it for me. Just when the long flower-heads start to extend, we’ll have a cracker of a frost – one of those really crunchy ones – followed by brilliant sunshine, and within days, all the buds will have dropped off.
This would worry me more if I happened to have a decent form of Wisteria. But I inherited this one, grown as a shrub in a lawn, that happened to be well-placed when most of that lawn was swallowed up in verandah. It threw up some long shoots which gave the new verandah a bit of instant-aging, and I couldn’t bring myself to dig it out.
This year I decided, just ‘cos I was up for the fight, to try and save it from frosting. I dragged out long sheets of polypropylene that I’d bought for some other purpose and folded it over long poles cut from the local pine forest.
Then I listened out for frost. You can hear it coming. It changes the atmospheric conditions (or at least accompanies the change) that totally alters the intensity of the night-time noises coming though our open window – particularly the sound of traffic from a distant freeway. If I heard that, I’d dash out (at whatever time of night) and chuck the long poles into the guttering, creating a curtain of ‘fleece’ (as they know it in the UK).
It worked. It helped that we had very little in the way of frost. The insipid colouring annoys me. but I absolutely love the smell, reminding me of May nights in the UK, when the smell would slide through an open window like oozing olfactory fondant, and put a smile on my jet-lagged face. But undoubtedly the best part of it is that I took on nature and for once – possibly just this once – I won.