The first time my husband, John and I visited Corgi Cottage, Tasha led us to the upper bedroom with the canopy bed and long shelves holding her gardening books. From that point on, I called it the garden room because of the books and the splendid view of Tasha’s garden. But also, because of the tendrils of wisteria threading underneath the window and into the room. I’m sure Tasha didn’t plan on that vine sneaking into the bedroom, but its presence fitted the personality of Tasha who loved her gardens and reminded me of the garlands that often framed her illustrations.
At that time, I didn’t know that it was a wisteria vine, because most of my experiences with climbing plants were with morning glories, clematis and ivy. I was unprepared for the waterfall of silvery, lavender cones of flowers cascading down the wall of her weathered cottage. The blossoms perfumed the air beneath our window. Their scent floated through the yard while a white-crowned sparrow sang, “Poor Sam, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody,” and the sun painted the western sky apricot.
Naturally, I pestered Tasha about the wisteria, and as soon as I arrived home, ordered two plants from a nursery. I planted them in front of my garden shed, envisioning a similar stunning display of blossoms. But nothing happened. I added more compost, mulched the plants, and still they did not bloom. So on my next visit, during the winter when Tasha’s vine slept, I asked many questions.
“Try chopping at its roots, and don’t add any compost this year, maybe cut it back a bit,” Tasha advised. “And you might have to visit a nursery and purchase a blooming wisteria plant in order to know that have one that has the potential to bloom.”
I tried Tasha’s gardening tricks, minus buying new nursery stock, but my plants only grew vibrant leaves. Seven years after planting the wisteria, I notice cone-shaped buds forming along a few of the branches. On a warm May afternoon, they unfurled, like theater curtains, and draped the roof of my garden shed. Bumblebees hovered among the blossoms. The sweetness of wisteria filled my lungs each time I lingered beneath the lavender shower. That evening while walking with my corgi, a hermit thrush’s silver call rippled through the woods, the wisteria shimmered in the sunset, and mirrored the splendor of Tasha’s garden.