Wisteria Time in Newark
I have mentioned that if I were living in a rural area or small town, rather than a semi-suburban area of a major central city, I might call my house "Wisteria Cottage" — and even have the Post Office deliver to that address — because of all the wisteria vines and blossoms I have in the yards on all four sides of my house, and even growing up parts of the house itself. I have tried to control the vines, but if my house were in a more rural setting, I might let them cover much of my house and property, because for two weeks or more each spring, they produce masses of lavender flower clusters, each about a foot long. (By the way, Wikipedia's article about this glorious vine says the name is "also spelled Wistaria or Wysteria". We have put up with spelling insanity for centuries. It's time to put an end to this chaos, which produces a higher rate of functional illiteracy in English-speaking countries than in countries whose languages are spelled sensibly. Can we really afford to throw away vast numbers of educational hours on teaching insane inconsistencies in spelling?) I think the two tall vines up the north side of my house shown above twined around fone lines or coaxial cables. Wisteria doesn't have sucker-like roots to attach to brick or siding, as English ivy and Virginia creeper do. (Those other vines have climbed some trees in my yard, and parts of my house and fences. I also have to control vining poison ivy, except perhaps at my property line.)
Some wisteria has even infiltrated the large, horizontally spreading yew ("my yew", I sometimes say in a goofy Southern accent), which makes for a handsome contrast. I keep ripping out the yearly intrusions of wisteria into my yew, but have to think about that now. Here, you can see two little clumps of wisteria from above. And here you see one from the side. I've got wisteria rising high. But I've also got wisteria blossoms just inches off the ground. Here and in the next two fotos, the vine produces flowers in a largely useless side yard only about five feet wide. I also have some hostas and a daffodil that were planted in that little space by the prior owners of my house. In this next foto, the hostas peek out from the right. A very large branch that I hadn't known had fallen until I looked for wisteria blooms in that side yard (but which may have fallen in our pre-Halloween snowstorm), just fit(ted) within that yard, but I later dragged it down the neighbors' driveway, across my frontage, and up my driveway to a corner of my yard where it would fit, until I saw it up for wood for the barbecue this summer. It is at least 15' long, and maybe 20. These wisteria blooms in that slender yard are better seen by my neighbors than by me. Here, the lavender cluster is just above the neighbors' driveway, beneath a barberry bush that in autumn produces red berries for overwintering birds. Wikipedia indeed says that the berries of at least some barberry varieties are edible by people, but I wouldn't steal from the birds in cold weather. They need them much more than I do. Here, another cluster of wisteria blooms seen better by my neighbors than by me, in the back of that strip sideyard, spans from near the ground to near the roof of my kitchen. My wisteria has even spread into the yard of the neighboring four-family frame apartment house. Here, you see it beyond the empty seed pods of another flowering plant I have in profusion in my yard, rose of sharon, which produces bell-shaped, purple flowers over 3" across from about early July thru early October. I have over 100 rose of sharon saplings of varying heights growing in my back and side yards, plus one at the curb. I put out a second at the curb, but some malicious neighbors or passing kids broke its top off. I'm going to put out a replacement, in a location where neighbors parking on the street don't need that space to open their car doors. Rose of sharon can grow to over 12' tall, and bloom brilliantly in poor soil, as long as it gets plenty of lite and water. It would be an ideal curbside shrub for many of those largely useless 3-foot-wide strips between the sidewalk and street in many Newark neighborhoods, and I've got a minimum of 100 I could give, free, to people who'd like to have something flowering at their curb. You just put them where they won't block car doors swinging open, and trim back the lower branches that might intrude upon the sidewalk. My own yard is filled with flowers from March thru October, from crocuses and daffodils, to wisteria, tulips, and rose of sharon. I never had anything like that in Manhattan. So, I say again, and esp. to gay men stuck in crammed-jammed, overpriced little boxes in Manhattan, "Ollie, ollie, oxen free!" You don't have to live like that. You may have fled suburbs and small towns for the freedom to be yourself that Manhattan provides. But you may have traded away too much, and find yourself trapped in an apartment prison, with little space, lite, and fresh air. You can find a house, with yards in which to grow your own choice of greenery, flowering plants, veggies, even fruit-bearing trees, in the more suburban-like portions of Newark — cheap. Vailsburg, Forest Hill (pricier), and some other parts of Newark have the space of modest suburbs but the live-and-let-live tolerance of the big city, all within easy reach of Manhattan for commuters and people who work on the western side of the Hudson but want to be able to get to the best of Manhattan quickly at all hours of the day and nite. (See my discussion here yesterday of Newark-to-Manhattan public transportation.) If anyone would like a rooted chunk of wisteria for their own yard — free — just let me know. You can come by and I'll dig up a bit of it with rootlets. Be warned, however, as the people from 18th Avenue near Stuyvesant warned me before I took a rooted chunk of evergreen bamboo from them, that you need to take pains to prevent this from taking over more of your yard than you may have intended. My bamboo, which started as a couple of canes about 4 feet high, now fills most of a fenced-in area far beyond the confined space I intended to fill, and is at least 15 feet tall. I can give you some rooted evergreen bamboo too, if you like. It's of the type you may have seen along park drive in Branch Brook Park near the Adubato Sports Complex. Some leaves turn partly lite-brown over the winter, but the bulk of the plant, canes and leaves alike, stays green even in the coldest weather. Wisteria, however, is not evergreen. I do have a lot of evergreens in the four yards all around my house, tho: boxwood, yew, spruce, bamboo, azaleas, rhododendrons, and English ivy both spreading on the ground and climbing up the trunks and major side limbs of trees. So there is always greenery outside my windows, if a duller and darker green in mid-winter than is most cheerful. Even dull green foliage outside my windows is a big change from my 35 winters in Manhattan apartments on low floors, with their bleak, meager views mid-winter. And, once you move to your own house in Newark, if you'd like some wisteria, rose of sharon, evergreen bamboo, and/or English ivy, for your yards, I can help you out — free.