Pruning our wisteria occurs every couple of years. It is a contact sport — and I tend to lose the contest most years.
When left unattended our vine (tree) will expand upward two or three feet a year. The higher it climbs, the more tendrils it sends out to entangle in the limbs of the Maple tree, to wrap around the chimney, and to snake along the eaves and gutters. These tendrils can easily reach twenty feet (or more) during the season, insidiously wrapping around and around anything they can latch onto.
Last week I decided it was time to enter the pruning contest. The top of the wisteria had grown to an elevation several feet above the supporting trellis, and the telescoping lopper was no longer able to reach those ascendant heights.
I armored up, gathering the tools and gear needed for battle. Ladder (of course), bow saw, hand clippers, and any other implements of destruction I thought would come in handy. Cell phone was on my person in case I got stuck (again) holding onto the vine while the ladder dangled uselessly below — and I would need to call my wife for help (again).
Heeding the warning not to stand on the top step of the ladder, I ventured into the upper atmosphere of twisting vines still laden with last year’s pods. It was a tenuous climb (I don’t particularly like heights), and handholds on the vine were few and far between. Each sturdy-looking vine seemed fragile when it was actually grasped, and more than a few snapped off with little to no warning — the ladder wobbled but thankfully did not fall away.
After a couple of hours the wisteria was down to a manageable height. Had I won this contest at last?
Hah! If only it had been a cooler March day I might have. I would have been wearing a heavy duty long-sleeved garment. But hey, it was almost 60 degrees, so I was wearing a short sleeved t-shirt. And that was my downfall.
With the adrenaline of the battle coursing through me, I hadn’t noticed that each time I reached into the twisting vines their little snags and new branches were taking a piece of my flesh. Not as much blood as when picking blackberries later in the summer, but enough to know I had, once again, lost the battle. My lovely wife would gaze at me with words of endearment, like “Are you an idiot? Go put some aloe on those cuts and scrapes. And you left your saw on the roof.”
Yet when the wisteria blooms in a few weeks, attracting honey bees, bumblebees, and hummingbirds, and I can reach the tendrils to lop them off before they encroach on other trees and structures, maybe I won the war. This year. Maybe.