Despite its humble beginnings as a ratty one-gallon pot on the clearance table at Home Depot, my wisteria vine is quite a sight to behold, especially in the spring. But as you might expect, it didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t even happen in one growing season, long as that might prove to be in California. It took time. Quite a long time actually.
Having never dabbled with this particular vine, I had no idea if it would take to the spot where I planted it, but considering the adage “You never really know a plant until you kill it,” I gave it a go.
I wanted vigorous growth from this brave little newcomer. I could visualize it climbing up and over my arbor gate, adorning the entrance to my patio with its dangling purple blooms, and filling the breeze with that luscious wisteria fragrance. Spring on my patio would be glorious! Unfortunately, what I got year after year was long, lush tendrils of green winding their way up and over my arbor, but very few flowers. Lots of green. Very little purple. Almost no fragrance. Huh.
Farmer’s Almanac to the rescue. A bit of research into the ways of vines like the wisteria frutescens would prove invaluable:
“Pruning is the secret to good flowering.”
And: “For more blooms, cut back rampant shoots every two weeks during the summer.”
Further research revealed that the gardener who wishes her wisteria vine to produce an abundance of fragrant blooms (to achieve the above mentioned glorious patio in spring), must prune in late winter, “removing at least half of the prior year’s growth, leaving just a few buds per stem.” That, in anyone’s book, would qualify as a hard prune. The most blooms come from a severe, albeit intentional, prune.
What I would later learn is that most vines prefer new growth over flowers. Even our grape vines here on California's Central Coast would favor sending out long, lush, green shoots over producing our beloved grapes were it not for the careful ministrations (and pruning) of the vintners. I knew what I had to do. I had planted that darn thing for the beautiful, fragrant flowers, and the impact it would have on my yard. I didn’t plant it for green. I planted it for purple.
As I clipped and whacked my wayward wisteria, subjecting the branches of my vine to a severe prune, the words of John 15 filled my mind:
I am the vine and My Father is the gardener…He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit…
Be it flowers or fruit, pruning is the secret to abundance.
I am the vine and you are the branches.
Of late, I’ve felt the branches of my life undergoing a hard prune. It’s been like a long winter, with growth from prior years seemingly reduced by at least half. Oh, a few buds here and there have remained, but nothing like the lush green tendrils of summer rambunctiously shooting out in every direction. Winter is a quiet season after all, and in winter there is a dearth of green, let alone purple.
But the message of John 15 is that pruning, especially a hard prune, is always for the purpose of producing more fruit. Our Gardner doesn’t want just a little bit of fruit from our lives. He wants an abundance of the color purple. And to get it, He is willing to take a quiet winter and faithfully and intentionally cut us back.
And the result? A new season will bring a lusciously fragrant shade of purple, adorning the arbor, and making the patio glorious. And that’s all the Gardner ever wanted.