My wis­te­ria’s hair­cut

The Covington News - - Opinion - PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the New­ton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@cov­news.com.

I gave my wis­te­ria a hair­cut this week­end. I usu­ally trim it about twice in the sum­mer and then re­ally cut it back in the fall when the leaves fall off. Ev­ery time I cut it in the sum­mer, it gets re­ally happy and grows at a greater speed and even flow­ers again.

The Chi­nese kind, which I have, is an in­va­sive plant. It will take over the world. I have cut it out of my fig tree, which is at least 15 feet from the orig­i­nal plant, and from an aza­lea bed, which is more than 30 feet from the plant. The roots shot out from the orig­i­nal plant and popped up there. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, the world’s largest known wis­te­ria plant in Sierra Madre, Calif., mea­sures more than one acre in size and weighs 250 tons. It is like mine, a Chi­nese laven­der. (How do you mea­sure the weight of plant?) I ad­vise those who are con­tem­plat­ing land­scap­ing never to plant wis­te­ria, no mat­ter how pretty you think it is.

Any­way, back to the hair cut. I de­cided this year not to cut the plant un­til it went dor­mant for the win­ter. My rea­son­ing was if I didn’t cut the plant, it would not be happy and not grow as much. My rea­son­ing was false and I fi­nally had to ad­mit de­feat.

The wis­te­ria grows over what my fam­ily laugh­ingly calls Paula’s pa­tio. I never wanted a pa­tio. But some­one, more than 25 years ago, gave my hus­band about a half a pickup truck full of flag stones. He, never turn­ing down any­thing free, hauled them home and piled them up in my back yard. When I com­plained about the pile, he would tell me he was go­ing to build me a pa­tio. Af­ter about five years, he fi­nally did. Hence Paula’s pa­tio.

He built a per­gola type struc­ture over the pa­tio and at­tached it to the house. He then cov­ered the struc­ture with that wavy clear plas­tic stuff. Then he planted the wis­te­ria next to one of the out­side posts.

The wis­te­ria grew with a vengeance and the clear plas­tic soon turned to an opaque yel­low. We had to re­move the plas­tic when my hus­band fell through it demon­strat­ing to the painters that it was per­fectly safe to walk on. Re­mov­ing the plas­tic in­volved cut­ting the wis­te­ria back to a nub. It didn’t care. It grew back just as lux­u­ri­ant as ever.

He also had to re­place the per­gola struc­ture even­tu­ally. Not be­cause it rot­ted, but be­cause the wis­te­ria, as it grew, pulled the post it was grow­ing on out of kil­ter and pulled sev­eral of the beams away from the house. It made the struc­ture risky to walk un­der.

Back to cut­ting the wis­te­ria. I usu­ally get a lad­der and a pair of lop­pers, climb the lad­der and cut back any­thing I can reach with the lop­pers. Move the lad­der and so on un­til I get as much as I can off the drat­ted plant. It takes con­sid­er­able time, but I used the cool morn­ings we have had lately to an ad­van­tage and com­pleted the task.

It went more quickly than usual. I had been com­plain­ing for sev­eral years about my lop­pers. I would have to cut half way through a branch and then turn them around and cut the other way to com­pletely sever the branch. If I was on steady ground (or lad­der), I would put one arm of the lop­per against me and use both hands to close the other arm of the lop­per. My hus­band (never buy any­thing new when you can fix the old one) said there was noth­ing wrong with the old lop­pers, and he would take them and sharpen them, but it re­ally didn’t help.

But this year, won­der of won­ders, one of my daugh­ters gave me a new pair of lop­pers for Mother’s Day. Oh what a dif­fer­ence they make. I am not go­ing to tell you they sliced through those wis­te­ria vines like but­ter, but I did cut al­most all of them with one slice. I didn’t have to re­sort to turn­ing them around and cut­ting more than once.

It al­most made giv­ing that wis­te­ria a hair­cut fun. Al­most.

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