by Jennifer Odom
Nana handed me the bottle with its scant leftovers of eau de cologne from her younger, fancier life. I took a sniff. Wisteria! I caressed the chipped label with its lavender grape-like flowers. I was only ten, but this container was an antique, and inside it was my first blessed encounter with the sweet fragrance of wisteria. In fact, it smelled so delicious, I feared it would run out, so I treasured the bottle, unused, for years until its few precious drops grew dark and gummy from evaporation.
I’ll never forget the real wisteria vine, either, that grew up the trunk of Nana’s pine tree. Its flowers were so high I could hardly see them at the top, and of course couldn’t smell them. I wanted a vine like that, too, with lavender petals falling on my yard.
So I asked my daddy.
“Oh, no,” he said. “Not a wisteria vine. That thing can choke a tree.”
He wasn’t exaggerating. The vine can run wild if left unchecked, and is hard to destroy if that happens.
Disheartened, I continued to harbor the thought that one day I’d own one.
My husband, an inveterate vine-hater, has also discouraged the idea. I admit, the vine does need just the place to flourish, and it isn’t my yard. So I hold off from actually gathering seeds or purchasing a vine.
Though the vine is unruly, some people do have a knack for keeping it under control. Wisteria will only climb to the height of its trellis or tree. It can be trimmed and cultivated…away from trees.
I especially appreciate the people who do make the effort.
And this year, 2018, has been an especially good year for wisteria, maybe because of all the cold weather.
Even after wisteria’s short blooming period has expired, its old blooms will shed a beautiful purple carpet beneath the vine.
At this time of year, whenever I spot a nice wisteria growing along the roadways I’m sure to point it out.
Sometimes I’ll stop the car along an undeveloped woodland and pick a bloom to lay across my console. Of course, it falls right to pieces and makes a mess. Even in a vase the bloom slumps and falls apart. Yet it’s worth my trouble just to inhale a few minutes worth of that heavenly scent in the car.
Thank you, Nana, for that little antique bottle with its precious drops of wisteria cologne. I have no idea where it disappeared to, and I’ve never found a good wisteria cologne since, but I’ll never forget it.
I can truly say, I am thankful that God created the beautiful wisteria vine, and if you see me picking a flower out by the road or sniffing around at your wisteria trellis, well, sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.
Learn more about wisteria and types that might not be so fragrant, but are Florida natives and aren’t so invasive: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/weeds-and-invasive-plants/wisteria.html