Wisteria. In Italian it is called glicine (GLY-she-ne) and it is one of the telltale signs of spring here in Italy. It starts blooming over walls, under gates, and around corners from inside hidden gardens you never knew existed. Even if you can’t see it, the streets are suddenly full of the fragrance of these delicate purple flowers, letting you know that it’s springtime again. Like most of the April and May blooms, they only last a few weeks, so I take every opportunity to hunt down the best and most fragrant examples. This particular display of sprawling branches all stem from a single trunk and spread out over the entirety of a large canopy covering a courtyard outside Pompeii. Apparently, it’s one of the wisteria plant’s particular abilities to grow quite far from its main source. The largest known example spreads over 43,560 square feet.
While I was researching wisteria to learn more about this amazing plant (technically in the pea family), one site described them thus: “Among their attributes are hardiness, vigor, longevity and the ability to climb high.” I think that is exactly the kind of plant we all need to see in spring. (For now we’ll just ignore this other little detail: “mature wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees.”) Aw. They’re very pretty and don’t know their own strength. Sounds like a lot of people I know.
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