So what is it that would make someone, who has a healthy respect for heights, go happily climbing up the side of the house on a ladder?   It has to be the winter prune of the Wisteria.  

It is a job that I do every New Year’s Day.  I know that gardening experts always say that the autumn is the start of the new gardening year as that is the best time for planting, but for me, pruning the Wisteria is the start.  It is almost always very frosty, a lovely crisp day when it is a pleasure to be outside if you are well wrapped up.   For the last two years, my husband has been concened to let me do it following my hip operation.   Two years ago, there was absolutely no chance of me doing it as I was on crutches.  Last year, he once again offered to do the job.  This year, there was no way that I was going to let him do it. 

We agreed to split the labour this year though.  He placed the ladder and I climbed up to do the pruning.  Once I had finished a section, he moved the ladder and the process continued.  The wisteria covers the back of our house, so this means quite a few ladder moves.  We have a stabiliser for the ladder for safety reasons, but it does make the moving process a bit more complicated.  We always start on the eastern side of the house as it is much easier to put the ladder up on the patio.  By the time we get to the western side, we have to negotiate the plants in the bed which is always a little harder.  The dogs are always confined to the house during the pruning process, the last thing that we want is to trip over them as we move the ladder (our springers are very inquisitive creatures) or for them to be hit by falling branches.

There is something intensely satisfying about pruning the wisteria.  The thought that this job is going to produce a more floriferous result in the spring spurs one on.  As the books say, I prune to two buds, which I assume allows the plant to concentrate its efforts on a smaller number of buds and therefore produce more vigorous racemes in the spring.  Over the years you create more and more flowering spurs  just waiting to erupt when the time is right.  At the same time, removing the unnecessary growth provides a nice neat structure for the plant to start its growth again once the sap rises in spring.