Winter- the late effects

This time last year, I was moaning about another soaking midsummer. This year, remarkably, it has been dry, and quite warm. But the effects of a long, cold winter linger one. Some plants – all the alpines and the primulas – enjoyed it. But other things obviously found it just too much:P1010772

This Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ is now officially dead. I thought, perhaps, it might pull back from whatever combination of wind and snow had blasted it – but no. It’s a goner. Six years old, and it just turns up its toes overnight.  That’s gardening for you! Mind you, it’s not the only tree to have suffered: here’s a Scots pine which should be putting on luscious growth like everything else, but is still feeling the effects of a freezing southerly March wind:P1010782

The plant that has suffered most, however, is the wisteria. I shouldn’t be growing wisteria anyway. It’s far too far north, and far too high, but on a whim I planted a wisteria sinensis in the most sheltered spot I could find, and for ten years it has done just fine. But not this year:P1010770
I’ve decided I hate this plant anyway. I’ve pruned it twice a year, every year, even in December, as they tell you to, and it produces pretty blue flowers, as it is supposed to. But not a smidgeon of that heady wisteria scent. Not a single sniff’s worth.

Now here’s an object lesson in compounding folly:
I read lots of learned stuff about wisterias, and concluded that I must have the wrong variety. So I planted another one next door, this time a wisteria floribunda which I believe twines the other way, (so that you can tell the difference). And waited the necessary four or five years for it to flower. And it did.
And it has no scent either.
And, worst of all:P1010771

…it turns out to be pink. This one didn’t even have the grace to get frosted, and it’s too late to take it back to the nursery and claim a refund.
No, I’ve had it with these temperamental brutes, and they can beg and plead as much as they want, but my heart is hardened….

So, I’ll leave you with a primula that is just as temperamental, but flowers beautifully at just this time of year, has an overwhelming fragrance, and repays love and care, unlike some. Primula flaccida:P1010773


15 thoughts on “Winter- the late effects

  1. I looked at your title and wondered why you were blogging about winter, but now I get it. I think you are very hard on those poor wisterias. After all, you are freezing their little fingers and toes off almost all year round, while they are really longing for a sunny wall in Italy or the south of France, and yet they bravely grow and flower. And then you are ungrateful enough to want them to smell nice too! I am sorry about your Prunus, though. And I hope your fine weather continues.

    • Dear Lyn, surely the whole point of wisteria is that it is supposed to smell nice! I agree, I’m an ungrateful brute, but there you go. Ruthless is my second name (except where primulas are concerned).

  2. Hard to believe a pine could react like that. But let’s get right to the wisteria. Might it be circular, your dark energy (‘hate”) and its failure to thrive? Perhaps your negativity even turned the second one pink… But really I just want to warn you that wisteria is not easily eradicated. I have one that I tried to kill, for completely reasonable reasons of course, and it sneaks back up every spring– snakes around in an innocent apple tree.

    • Dearest Linnie, I look forward to your post about dark energy in the garden and how it has helped you to eradicate your celandine. In fact, maybe you could give me some tips on how I can concentrate my dark energy on wild raspberries, thistles, and especially grey squirrels. How I would enjoy it if they turned pink! I don’t think I have the heart to eradicate the wisteria. But I do think it needs a hard talking-to, backed up with threats. I’ve tried the love, and that doesn’t work, obviously.

      • I was prepared to answer my comment here myself tonight so I’m glad you did it if for me sweet Kininvie. (On the other hand, I would have completely agreed with me…)

        Isn’t the thistle a national symbol in Scotland? If so it’s not nice to sprinkle dark energy on it. And really I think you would find pink squirrels to be a bit embarrassing so do be careful with your pwerful negativity. Your cavalier remark re my celandine does not acknowledge the huge inroads I’ve made–it’s not gone but it is mightily reduced and, like Tiny Tim, the situation is better every day. Or anyway every spring. What are wild raspberries? They sound like breakfast.

  3. Wisteria without scent? That is rather bizarre. Around here, Wisteria sinensis cultivars are sometimes fussy about blooming at all, but if they do flower the fragrance is always there. Then again, here they also sometimes escape cultivation and run rampant at the edge of forests and highways. Maybe they need more heat to produce their characteristic smell?

  4. I was more shocked at the wisteria outside and in flower where you are but you’re clearly very talented. The week but last I waved you a hello as I visited a chum who, like you, is a proper grown up gardener and the wisteria at her work garden is flowering like a beast and smells delicious. Actually she’s not far from you and the garden’s open for one day only this coming Sunday……….. (Coldoch, Blair Drummond). As I get to sneak in under cover of darkness when I’m passing through, I can highly recommend it – but don’t get wisteria envy (hers is blue).

    Link here if you’re interested (, meander half way down the page and you’ll find directions…………I was hoping to go but I’ve a cellist to drop off in Aberdeen that day, most ungrateful timing that child has.

    • Alas Fay, I’m elsewhere on that date, otherwise I would certainly go, wisteria envy or not. I don’t think wisterias require much talent – just a lot of fiddly work; and if you have the right condiditions, they repay the trouble. But I obviously don’t have the right conditions…. ;-(

  5. Shame about your Wisteria, Sinensis survives even up here in dreich Aberdeen. I know of three which bloom every year, they are in extremely sheltered walled gardens and I doubt if they would perform well in our frost pocket. Myra has just purchased a Hydrangea paniculata named, wait for it ( pinky winky) I received orders to plant it in a prime position, I will send you a rooted cutting next year if you like. Your Primula flaccida: makes up for the disappointments.

    • Dear Alistair, if you don’t mind, I’ll stick with my pure white hydrangea paniculata. Which is not to say that some of the (mildly) pink cultivars are not desirable. But having looked up ‘pinky winky’ I’m not certain it is among them. Anyway, I would ban that name from my garden even if I liked the colour. It’s worse than geranium ‘splish splash’. But thanks for the offer!

  6. I’m just preparing a post about the wisteria where I work, Mr K so it was interesting to hear of your experience. The late spring here means it actually has flowered properly – for the first time; in all my time the buds have always been frosted off. Dave

    • Your wisteria is a lovely colour, and I’m glad it flowered for you. Curiously, I never usually have trouble getting mine to flower – it’s just that the scent goes missing! I guess the comment above about warmth may hold a clue..I did read somewhere that the point of the December pruning is so that the flowers are not hidden by the newly emerged leaves – but those leaves may provide some protection against late frosts. Worth experimenting with?

  7. I agree with Linnie that it’s pretty weird that your pine died. I wonder if something ate its roots to survive. Some plants just drive us crazy when they refuse to live up to our expectations. Kiss that wisteria good bye and plant something else. 🙂

    • The pine’s not dead – it just that a lot of the previous year’s growth was burned; it’s classic freezing wind damage – and the pines were not the only conifers to have suffered. A lot of the gorse was hard hit too. What is odd is that it was a southerly wind – it’s usually the east wind that does the winter damage.

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