Information for the amateur gardener

Wisteria Sinensis prolific June 11

Wisteria Sinensis Prolific. This climber is fully hardy, however if you want it to flower in the North East of Scotland, Plant it in a sunny sheltered position.

Pruning of Wisteria may in the past have made you a little reluctant to try your hand with this climbing plant. However once you get the hang of it you will no longer view this twice per year maintenance job as such a terrible chore.

Many years ago on visiting an aunt of Myra’s in Sussex , I was very taken with the Wisteria which she had growing over a large arch. The information that we received at the time was that Aberdeen’s climate was just too cold and we would be wasting our time and money on this very special plant.

It was not until twenty five years later that I found out just how wrong this information was
On helping a friend with their house move in Aberdeen, as usual my first thought before any heavy lifting was to have a look at the back garden, well, well, as you may have guessed, there it was on a south facing wall the most beautiful Wisteria I had ever seen, smothered in pale lilac flowers, magnificent. I was bestowed with the honour of caring for it, which I still do.

Since that time I have come across quite a few growing well in Aberdeen, perhaps not as many as you may expect for such an outstanding plant, makes me suspect that many gardeners in the north east of Scotland are of the same opinion that I once was.

Go on find a good sunny sheltered spot south or west facing, once established this very long lived plant will become your pride and joy. Having said that, we still don’t have this climber in our own garden. The only spot we have suitable is taken up with the Clematis Blue Angel which performs so well every year, I haven’t the heart to remove it.

Well anyway there are 10 species of Wisteria  mainly found in moist woodland areas of China, Korea and Japan. Grown for their fragrant flowers borne in pendent racemes in Spring or Summer. The leaves are dark green about twelve/fourteen inches long

Train your climber against a wall, over an arch or you can even grow Wisteria through a tree where it can be left more or less to its own devices.

Wisterias are all fully hardy and deciduous and should be grown in full sun where they will flower to their best. Grow in fertile, moist but well draining soil. Once established keep your Wisteria under control by pruning twice per year. In July or early August cut back outgrowing branches to a length of twelve inches, then in late January take these stems back further to a length of only three or four inches.
Choose the Chinese Wisteria, proven to grow well in our cooler climate. Sinensis Prolific bears many lilac blue flowers in late Spring or early Summer, a particular favourite of mine, or go for Alba if you fancy a variety with pure white flowers.

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Right in the heart of Aberdeen’s west end lies a most beautiful park (Johnston Gardens) Not the sort of park where you can play football or the like but a true public garden which is surrounded by private housing. It has rockeries, ponds, streams, waterfalls and beautiful Rhododendrons, a most welcoming atmosphere all round. I reckon if you were to ask 70% of the population in Aberdeen they would say they had not heard of these gardens. Johnston gardens are Aberdeen’s trump card when it comes to the Britain in bloom competition and I suspect those in the town council play it down so as not to attract what may be seen as too many visitors for their liking. Well anyway it is a lovely park, see what you think.

© 2011 – 2012, Alistair. All rights reserved.


  1. I planted Wisteria last year and hopefully I’ll have blooms this spring. Thanks for sharing the info on this great plant.

  2. Michael says:

    Hello! I’m so glad to have found your blog. I used to travel to Aberdeen about 3 or 4 times a year when I was representing oil companies which had rigs not too far offshore. The most magic moments were when, after it had rained, the city literally sparkled under the sun as it hit the granite homes and buildings. I loved every minute of it.

  3. b-a-g says:

    Alistair – That wisteria is magnificent. Have you been successful in taking cuttings from wisteria. I’m trying to grow cuttings from mine, but it’s not working.

    Thanks for showing us Johnston Gardens. Hope you don’t get a man from the town council knocking on your door!
    b-a-g recently posted..Patio Weeds 05 JUN 2011

    • Alistair says:

      b-a-g, I have never tried cuttings from Wisteria, always felt it would take a helluva time to develop. It wouldn’t surprise me if I got a visit.

  4. Cathy says:

    Alistair, like you, I do enjoy our wisteria. And while the American wisteria is a little better behaved, there is nothing like those long clusters of flowers on the Chinese wisteria for beauty. Yours are breathtaking, as are the photos of the Johnston Gardens. What a gorgeous place to bring a book, a picnic, or just take a walk. And so sad that as you say, most people scarcely know it exists…..
    Cathy recently posted..Update- The Saga of the Sand Cherry

  5. Donna says:

    Johnston Park is a beautiful place. So much color and texture.
    Donna recently posted..Been Around Awhile- NFG Pgs 65 to 70

  6. Janet says:

    We always go to Duthie Park to walk the dog. I’ve yet to get into the Winter gardens there (always got the dog in tow). I have never heard of Johnston Gardens. It looks stunning! The secret is out.
    Janet recently posted..Fly Cemeteries- Cuckoo spit etc

  7. Alistair, There are two species of American wisteria. You could try growing your clematis over the outside of a wisteria planted behind it. I like to have two vines in every place. To Bag, wisteria is quite easy to transplant from the “wild” where it (unfortunately) seeds invasively. Love the park, you are so lucky to have such a treasure right in your city. Carolyn
    Carolyn @ Carolyn’s Shade Gardens recently posted..Powered by Compost

    • Alistair says:

      Hi Carolyn, Cathy has quite correctly also brought it to my attention regarding the American Wisteria. New stuff to learn every day, I love it. Yes, planting the Wisteria along with the Clematis may well be a solution.

  8. Holley says:

    Your pic of the wisteria is enough to entice anyone into growing it! The pics of Johnston garden are absolutely beautiful! I can’t believe so many don’t know about it. It should be a favorite!
    Holley recently posted..The Antithesis of Monsoon Season

  9. There is a lovely wisteria in the courtyard at the little hotel here. Not in our garden, it is a huge daunting plant,thank you! But the flowers appeal so much, I knitted my mother a cotton jacket with trusses of wisteria on it.
    Elephant’s Eye recently posted..Red- yellow and bare

  10. Greggo says:

    Such a clean park. I pruned my wisteria to the ground this year as it has moved its trellis out of the ground. It has recovered well.
    Greggo recently posted..Field Stone Edging DIY

  11. Donna says:

    I ran across a blog from your hometown and was wondering if you knew this lass? http://christinelaennec.co.uk/ She wrote on a castle, that is how I found her.
    Donna recently posted..Been Around Awhile- NFG Pgs 65 to 70

    • Alistair says:

      Thanks Donna, very interesting posts, I see she is an American living in Scotland. Aberdeen was thronging with Americans in the 70s with the oil boom, they never complained about the weather, makes me wonder what we are always moaning about.

  12. Johnston park is a beautiful park Alistair thanks for sharing, Frances

  13. Andrea says:

    Wow, wow, it has been my favorite the first time i saw it in Sweden. It was climbing a 2-storey building and magnificently trained. Then i saw it again in Turkey but even not trained is producing lots of flowers too. In fact, i learned its ID only thru blogging. I talked to a nursery owner here once and said we have wisteria here in the tropics. I did not believe her as i thought it is only for the cold climes. I haven’t researched it though.

  14. Ten years ago when I was a new comer to East Scotland I was very unsure about growing wisteria – now I wish I had given it a go – unfortunatley there is no room now for one.

  15. Masha says:

    The wisteria picture is really stunning. I am very glad you can grow it. Thank you for the tour of the park, it is such a lovely place.

  16. Donna says:

    Alistair you live in the most lovely area….such grand places to visits with beautiful gardens…

  17. Hi Alistair, I used to have a wisteria vine at our first home, which was a small townhouse. It must have liked life where I planted it because it did very well and bloomed almost immediately. It even survived our miserable winters. I have not found a place for a wisteria at our present home, but it is a lovely vine and I would like to have one here.
    Johnston Park and your photos of it are just beautiful!

  18. p3chandan says:

    Ive always loved wisteria ever since I saw them in one of those Impressionist paintings by Claude Monet. Loved their cascading flowers and their lovely colours of purple, white and pink. I wish they can be grown here in the tropics, how lovely they would drape my pergola!

  19. Hi Alistair, sorry, but am sticking to my thing of always visiting the blog of anyone who comments on mine ;-) I love wisteria, but have always baulked at the need to be so disciplined in the pruning to get it to flower well. My health issues mean I try to stick to things more tolerant of neglect, but there again, FIL loves to prune, so maybe in our next garden… If there is a south facing wall…

  20. Hi Alistair – planted Wisteria 2 years ago but something ate it and this year it has lots of healthy foliage but no flowers. Must get the hang of the pruning but then I wonder how others manage the giants I’ve seen around in parks and gardens. I would keep Johnston Gardens a secret too – don’t want to spoil the beautiful quiet of such a spot.

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