I have been discussing with my sister, world politics and climate change, both of which are quite depressing topics at the moment. We are disappointed with the current State and Federal Governments and despair for what the future holds for our children. She has decided my suggestion of moving to a farm is not such a silly idea. I have some reservations about this concept of self-sufficiency although I love gardening and growing my own fruit and vegetables and I can picture myself spreading grain for my gorgeous hens and rooster. I’ll be generous and let her collect the eggs as long as she is prepared to also act as executioner. What a shame our Italian Grandfather isn’t alive to share his skills as a trained butcher and salami maker.
Mulling over how I would explain the idea of us living on a farm to my very urban husband I wandered into my garden wondering which plants would withstand climate change and an increase in temperatures with reduced rainfall.I decided as I stood under my wisteria vine, that it would survive the most rigorous conditions. It is one very tough plant. Five years ago I found it in a tangled mess lying on the ground where my tenants had thrust it. The branches were long and twisted upon themselves like a ball of curling ribbon. Some of the lengths hadn’t been pruned for over 7 years making them impossible to unravel, so I hacked them off leaving a few long branches near the base which I trained across the stainless steel arbour that we had installed. The wisteria never hesitated and took to the space with energy and vigour, threading its way in a clockwise fashion along the wires and up over the veranda railings. Its summer growth is so fast that if you stood next to it you would be entwined within it like an enormous carpet python wrapped around its prey.
When it flowers it looks spectacular and last year, a lunch guest insisted on touching the flowers to check whether I had trailed a fake vine across the veranda. Now as I contemplated the vine I realised I had neglected its pruning this year and it was looking a mess with long summer growth thrusting up and weaving around itself.
This proved to be quite a cathartic activity because it is difficult to think of anything else when clambering up a ladder and handling pruning shears. I am always reluctant to prune which is ridiculous as everything grows so vigorously in our sub-tropical climate. So I started slowly nipping the occasional spur, climbing down, reviewing the look then climbing back up again, stretching my arms above my head reaching for the strong arching canes. I think I have managed to determine which are the plumper flower buds and the flatter growth buds.It was a great workout and I enjoyed it. I left some of the canes above the arbour so that I would see the flowers from above but managed to fill an entire wheelie bin with debris.
I also discovered a use for the canes and have woven them into wreaths. My amateur attempts have survived the enthusiasm from the crows seeking nesting material and now I need to refine the technique of adding flowers to the wreaths. Weaving with garden materials is a whole new interest for me.
During winter this skeletal frame lets the sunlight filter through, lighting the downstairs rooms while in spring the spectacular profusion of blooms fills our house with the gentle scent of wisteria. In Summer my study is illuminated with a cool green sunlight shining through the dense cover of leaves. Almost as good as a holiday. The flowers are so beautiful I am also working out how to draw them onto canvas for a tapestry. I cannot imagine how anyone need be bored when they have a garden.