Thursday, Aug. 04, 2011
Dear Diary:

Okay, I'll admit it, I panicked.

Last year I bought myself a wisteria. Visions of a long, glorious vine draped in highly scented grape-like clusters of purple flowers danced in my head. I read about how highly aggressive the vine could be and coaxed the spousal unit into promising me a pergola that could stand up to something out of "Jack and the Beanstalk".

The vine wintered over beautifully, always a concern in our harsh climate.

And then.

And then at some point in May the *%*#$% deer ate it down to within a foot of the ground.

Fine.

Hallelujah.I surrounded it in chicken wire to protect it from those rats on stilts and hovered over it endlessly. One spindly branch appeared. A weird fuzzy thing appeared about 18 inches above the ground on the end of said spindly branch. Slowly it morphed into this bit of wonderfulness, a glorious wisteria flower.

Be still my foolish heart.

The books had cautioned me that it could take a newly planted wisteria up to five years to flower. You can well imagine my giddiness at this unexpected blossom. It was a source of great hilarity to the spousal unit that for the week or so that that flower was around I would constantly drop to my hands and knees and just bury my face in it to wallow in its perfume.

Buoyed by this success, I waited for the vine to take off, for flower after flower to appear.

And then.

Nothing.

It's as if the plant produced that one flower, decided its mission was done, and it, well, it just parked its butt in my garden, basically not growing at all.

Arrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhh.

So I panicked, went to the nursery in the third week of June and bought another wisteria, one that was already a good four feet long, and I planted it on what will be the left side of the pergola, across the way from Wisteria, Part One. The spousal unit built it a temporary six foot high trellis, identical to the trellis for the first wisteria. I strung string. I lovingly wrapped its vines around said string.

And then.

And then Wisteria, Part Two also stopped growing. As icing on the cake, it didn't even bother to flower. I hovered around the two vines obsessively for about two weeks and then, well, I threw up my hands because how much pain can one woman be expected to take?

I ignored the wisteria for a couple of weeks. It's the summer, my gardens are massive and there's always a lot to do.

I don't know where exactly the summer has gone, but it was only last week that the spousal unit was able to get to the pergola project. This spring we bought massive, stupidly heavy rough sawn 6 x 6 inch hemlock beams to make the basic support for the pergola. Our local lumber yard keeps them in stock for farmers who want to build barns, or extensions to barns.

The spousal unit thought I was out of my mind to want to build a vine support out of something such as this, but I stuck to my guns. After all, web site after web site had stressed that wisteria need serious support.

This has been a source of great hilarity for the spousal unit seeing as, well, the wisteria haven't been growing. "We could have used 4 x 4," he opined, as I helped him wrestle each of the still stupidly heavy beams onto sawhorses so he could run a belt sander over them and then route the groves and fluting I wanted into the uprights.

They are beautiful.

Still stupidly heavy.

But, frankly, they could hold up a house. It sure felt like overkill on my part. Stupidly heavy overkill. As an extra bonus, it will take a year for them to dry enough for me to stain, so we decided to not even erect the pergola this fall, to just get the pieces ready for assembly next spring. My lusted after pergola is now officially a giant, stupidly heavy tinker toy project that will sit in our woodshed all winter, as it were.

Stupid wisteria.

This would be a good place to insert an ominous organ chord.

With the pergola project underway, I decided to mosey over and look at the wisteria. The wisteria I last looked closely at, oh, about 2 weeks ago. Funny thing. Last year's wisteria has started to grow. Not one, not two, but six very hardy vines. And in that time the two longest vines have grown over six feet, the other four about four feet. Yep, the longest runners climbed over two feet above the original temporary trellis. An extension has been built.

Six feet in less than twenty days. Over three inches a day. That gave me pause. The earliest we see frost here is about the second week in September, which means that if the wisteria keeps up at this pace, I could easily be looking at another nine feet of vine.

HOLEY MOLEY. We're entering Jack and the Beanstalk territory here.

I'm betting that the current growth spurt has something to do with our usual July heat wave and once temperatures drop, so will the plant's growth. I've strung some heavy duty string between the two temporary trellises, so that if the plant continues to go bananas, it has room to spread overhead.

"You're sure you don't want to put the pergola us this fall?" the spousal unit asked. And to tell you the truth, I'm wavering. But if we put it up, it will be out in the weather. The big beams will get all muddy and won't dry out nearly as quickly as they will in the woodshed, where they'll also stay clean. The drier the wood, the better it will hold stain. The better it holds stain, the longer it will last.

I'm figuring that the pergola will get a one time shot at protection from the elements. I'll put three coats of stain on it after we assemble it next spring, attach the wisteria, and I'll probably never be able to get at it again because the vine will overrun it. I hope.

But then again, with my luck, a deer or moose will come, figure out a way to get around the chicken wire, and eat the wisteria to the ground. We'll assemble this massive structure capable of supporting a barn and it will have, oh, nothing to support.

It's not easy being a gardener.

--Marn

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