When we moved here 15 years ago I was excited by the idea of gardening in an old walled garden and pictured fruit trees trained along the long West facing wall, replanting the varieties whose lead tags are still nailed to the bricks . . . BUT, yes there was a big 'but', that would have meant removing two mature climbers already in situ. They were unloved, strangled with orange binder twine and with a sterile lawn up to their toes. We made the decision to turn the garden inside out – the vegetables joined the small orchard in the triangular plot outside the walled garden and I set about giving the climbers some TLC and adding a border of flowers and herbs.
It is in May that we are rewarded for letting them stay . . .
#035 Wisteria sinensis
It may be an oriental forest climbing plant, but now a Wisteria on the wall is as quintessentially English as tea and scones. Now I have seen the results of my efforts, the ritual of pruning the Wisteria is one of my favourite tasks in late Winter.
Then it's a waiting game, watching for the fat flower buds to form. And watching the weather forecasts for late frosts – a sharp frost around Easter will wipe out the flower buds and there will be no chance of flowers until the next year. Yes, there have been a few years like that.
This year conditions have been perfect (except for the the lack of blue skies and sun when I wanted to take the photographs!) and we have a waterfall of blue/mauve flowers tumbling down the "Suffolk Red" brick wall.
Look closely at the flowers, they are like thousands of tiny Sweet Peas – and they do have a subtle warm scent. Wisterias are a members of the pea family, the seeds are pods of beans, please don't eat them as they are poisonous. The name Wisteria was given to the plant by botanist Thomas Nuttall who said it was in memory of Dr Caspar Wistar, 1761-1818; though there is speculation he was secretly naming it after his friend Charles Jones Wistar of Grumblethorpe in Pennsylvania.
#036 Clematis montana
Anemone or Mountain Clematis
Clematis literally means 'climbing plant' Clematis montana is a 'vigorous climber' from the mountainous (montana) regions of Asia - from Afghanistan to Taiwan. Our plant is a huge tangle of old stems, twined and layered like a massive bird's nest . . . in fact it is a tenement of bird's nests - Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins and Wrens - one year even a Mallard Duck (and she had 13 ducklings) – have all made their homes on our wall. So the tangle stays.
In Spring we notice the seemingly dead stems have signs of life, then as the days lengthen and temperatures rises, suddenly the little dangling buds appear and then one morning when we look out of the bedroom window and the wall is covered with soft pink four-petalled flowers.
Up close you can see each flower on its stiff wiry stem is angled to face the light so they don't touch or hardly overlap; the fluffy central boss of pale yellow stamens in the centres are waiting for visiting bees.
I must update the #100 Flowers Pinterest board, I'm really enjoying following the seasons by recording the flowers in our garden . . . but it's hard to keep up at this time of year, I think the next #100Flowers blog post with have to be a tour of the garden to catch up!