Along many Raleigh roads in early April, you may come upon huge swaths of dripping, purple Wisteria. The sight of garlands of the grape-like Wisteria blooms clinging to trees as high as sixty feet and hanging like a necklace is stunning.
Laurinda Elliot, in Nardi Point, is amazed at the vine’s proliferation as she drives North up Six Forks Road in her open convertible. Not being a native North Carolinian, the event caused her to gasp the very first time she saw it! Laurinda may be considered a “foreigner” by long-time Carolinians, but she’s heard their stories about how the vine can take down an old home place or small building if left to its own crazy growth pattern … up to ten feet in one season! The expansiveness doesn’t always represent lack of gardening caution, however. Hurricanes can spread the vine as well. No doubt Hurricane Fran was responsible for the huge roadside displays Laurinda wondered about as she drove along Norwood, Possum Track, Nipper, and Mount Pleasant Church roads.
Wisteria is like a poem, its stanza’s flowing from whatever structure the vine commandeers for support. The draping grape cluster blooms are beautifully fragrant. In Victorian age flower language, their weeping-like configuration suggested meanings of endurance, lost love, honor, or a love that was clinging. Laurinda will have time later to reflect on the flower’s beauty … and the flower’s meaning.