WISTARIA, Glycine Sinensi
THE name here given is that under which the plant was first described by Dr. John Sims, in the Botanical Magazine, 1819 (t. 2,083). It has been variously described as Wistaria Sinensis and Wistaria consequana; but the rightful name is the Chinese glycine (Glycine Sinensis).
This glorious, hardy climber was brought from China by Captain Welbank, in the year 1816, and was first grown and flowered in the garden of Charles Hampden Turner, Esq., Rook's-nest Park, near Godstone, in Surrey, and it was through Alexander McLevy, Esq., that Dr. Sims obtained a spray of the flowers for his drawing. The story of the first attempt in growing the plant is paralleled by many instances. It was first kept in the peach-house, in a temperature of 84 degree, where it was very soon all but destroyed by vermin. The heat being reduced below 60 degree, the plant improved in health, but did not fully recover. Early in August, the gardener, D. McLeod, removed it from the wall of the peach-house, set it in a pot of vegetable mould, and tied its branches to a stick. In the month of September it lost all its leaves. It was kept all the winter on the floor in the darkest and coolest part of the greenhouse, in which situation the mould in the pot was frozen three different times during the winter. In the beginning of March it showed flower buds, and the plant was removed to a more favourable situation in the house; but no leaves were put forth till the last week in March, when the flowers were nearly expanded. Thus the plant was prepared for life in the open air, and when at last it was trusted wholly to nature proved hardy enough for the climate of Britain, and capable of giving joy to its humblest possessor--for of glass, fire, pots, and careful tendance, it needs absolutely none. The familiar Aucuba Japonica went through the same kind of probation, being nearly killed in heat, and restored to health only by being treated as a hardy plant fully capable of taking care of itself. When we speak of it as the wistaria (not wisteria) we commemorate C. Wistar, an American botanist, to whose honour it was dedicated by the botanist Nuttall.
The wistaria is a member of the great order of papilionaceous or fabaceous plants; in other words, it is a member of the happy family of peas and beans. There are about a dozen species in the books, but they obtain little attention, and it may be said that for all practical purposes in the decoration of the garden we have only one, which is the plant now before us. But this beauty has given us a fair child, known as the white wistaria, an exquisitely lovely plant when in flower, and as hardy every way as the blue or purple form here figured.
Having grown wistarias in several kinds of soils, we are bound to say they are not at all particular. A deep, rich, warm loam of a light character is perhaps the best soil for the purpose, but they thrive in peat, in peaty sand, and on all kinds of loams that are warm and well drained; and where the natural soil is a heavy, tenacious clay, a border should be prepared on a well-drained foundation for the growth of a good wistaria. The plant occasionally produces seed-pods and ripe seeds; but as these are not common, the nurserymen learned long since that propagation by layers is at once an easy and an expeditious mode of proceeding.
Although a foreigner of recent introduction, the wistaria has acquired in this country a certain degree of dignity as an historical tree, and one closely associated with individual lives and memories. Some, perhaps, among our readers may be reminded of the magnificent specimen that ran far under the shelter of a venerable verandah in the garden of the late Sir Joseph Paxton at Rockhills, adjoining the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. The standard wistaria at Cothelstone, figured in the Gardener's Magazine, June 27, 1868, is as truly a family tree, and as dear to its possessors, as any of the patrician laurels that were subjects of eulogy with Roman poets and orators. There is a most noble tree of the kind in the Royal Gardens, Kew, and it may be easily found, for it is near the Temple of the Sun and the first block of plant-houses. This is trained on a great circular cage of poles and bars. The flowers display a fuller tone of colour than those of trees trained to walls, and the artificial training is excused by the fact that it is just in such a way that the tree is commonly grown in China. In some places the Chinese glycine, or wistaria, is allowed to run up the tallest trees, and festoon their summits with its annual plentitude of garlands of blue flowers. And when the flowers are past, the leafage of the wistaria is so distinct and beautiful, that the trees supporting it are doubly adorned, for their own leaves have some beauty, and they know it, as we see by the way they thrust them out in masses to contrast with the leafage of the scrambling butterfly they generously support.
The white wistaria is so lovely that one is sometimes almost tempted to yield to the thought that our old friend is outshone by the newer beauty which was introduced about the year 1846, and is therefore as yet in the nature of a little stranger. On seeing a very fine specimen it has seemed to us that nothing in this world could surpass in loveliness the broad sheet of snow-white flowers, delicately relieved as they were with a little undertone of green, the whole display being favoured with a background of clear blue sky.
Title: WISTARIA, Glycine Sinensi Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc.
Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc.
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