Five of the best: wisteria gardens
Here’s our pick of the best places in the world to be thrilled by the fragrance, form and sheer delight of wisteria.
Words: Linda Ross
Ashikaga Flower Park
This is our favourite wisteria collection, just 50 minutes out of Tokyo. There are 350 wisterias over 23 acres, pruned into many forms, including shelves, over bridges, rounded domes, arched walkways and – the highlight – flat onto a bamboo trellis measuring 100 x 100 metres. For several weeks every year master gardener, 93-year-old Haruji Takahashi, climbs a giant ladder to prune this 150-year old masterpiece, which he’s been crafting for half a century.
Kameido Tenjin Shrine
In the heart of Tokyo lies Kameido Tenjin Shrine, where a one-kilometre stretch of wisteria, trained over a bamboo trellis, hovers above squares of water, giving the visitor a chance to move between water and wisteria. During the Golden Week holiday the trellises are lit at night. As this is one of Tokyo’s free floral events, half the city might be there enjoying the show with you!
Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Two hours on the bullet train from Okayama is a private garden famous for its wisteria arches. The garden is only open in autumn for maple viewing and in spring for wisteria. Highlights include two, long arched steel tunnels planted with every tone of the wisteria rainbow. Further up the hill, a collection of large wisteria trees together form an enormous roof of translucent flowers. At the top you can see over the sea of wisteria flowers into the bamboo groves of the surrounding valley. Can be busy in wisteria season.
Nooroo, Mount Wilson
Closer to home, just two hours west of Sydney is a wonderful collection of potted wisteria on an old tennis court. The Valder family collection began in 1960 with wisteria sourced from China, Japan, Europe and North America. Large-canopied wisteria trees are trained onto old posts from the tennis court and surrounded with potted azaleas to plump up the floral display. The garden is now in the good hands of Dr Anthony Barrett and is a must visit in October.
Iford Manor, Wiltshire
The wisteria adorning the front façade here is reputedly the oldest Wisteria sinensis in England, planted in 1840. It’s one of our favorite displays of wisteria in an English garden, and the garden itself is a treat, designed by garden architect Harold Peto, who lived in the manor in the early 20th century. His great love of Italian garden style is romantically mixed with the English love of flower borders.
Come with us
Linda recorded a podcast about wisteria while in Japan this year. Give it a listen