Thursday, May 19, 2016


Wandering around London on a sunny may day is one of my very favorite things.  I haven’t lived there in years, but I feel like I've only been away on vacation.  The hustle, the bustle, the cozy pubs and the warming teas, it's all still here. Add to that, the mind blowing street displays of an occasional flowering Wisteria.  When they bloom they spare no expense at advertising their seduction. 

The flowers, from a distance look like clusters of violet and purple grapes.  They spend their long dormant winters clinging to a number of beautiful row houses.  Their leafless bodies twist and have an almost exaggerated appearance of struggle.  But they are only pretending.  When the April showers are followed by sun rays in May, they wakesup.  The haggard old vine throws on the heavy coat of cabaret makeup and comes out for another spectacular show. 
Seasoned veterans of the gardens, these ladies were first introduced to the English in the early 19th century and have been a hit ever since. 

There are 2 main types of cultivated Wisteria- Chinese (wisteria sinesis) and Japanese (wisteria floribunda). The Chinese has many more flower clusters reaching 12” and the Japanese has fewer, but longer clusters (up to 24”).  An interesting fact I learned while reading up on these magical vines is in their stem rotation(s).  A big part of their strained appearance is the twisting of the trunk and branches.
 The Japanese ones rotate clockwise and the Chinese rotate counterclockwise. Why? Well, just like water drains in different directions in the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere, due to the earths rotation, so too are the directions of the rotations of these peacocks of the vine world.  You might think, wait, aren’t they both in the northern hemisphere?  Correct, but when the little island of japan saw the incarnation of its wisteria, Japan was in the southern hemisphere. And that is the way its always been. So there you have it.