There are several National Plant Collections listed in the Directory as c/o Plant Heritage. Reasons for this vary, from the Collection being moved to a new as yet unknown location when the Directory is being compiled, to the Collections held by the Royal Family. The Surrey Wisteria Collection is listed as such because it is actually cared for by the Surrey group with Marian Badger being the custodian (assisted by husband Peter).
At least a couple of times a year email requests go out for volunteers to come and help care for this large collection and this brought together five of us together last week to start the winter pruning. Under a brilliant blue sky, with frost on the grass and a slight mist over the pergola housing one of the larger specimens, Marian reminded us how to approach the task.
As we were starting with the specimens grown as standards, access was easy and no ladders required. We pruned laterals back to three buds, removed crossing and dead branches and kept in mind the overall shape of the plant. These particular plants are well established now, so generally leaders were treated like laterals, unless a gap in the structure needed to be filled. In this case some soft plastic twine was used to coax the leader into the desired place. There is still more pruning to be done and the next session is on Friday 9th December, so if you are interested, contact us at National Office, 01483 447540 and we will pass on your details to Marian. Next summer when the collection is blooming, I will be able to say that I contributed to that wonderful display.
Top tips from Marian, if you are buying a Wisteria, try to buy one in flower so that you know what you are getting (and that it will flower) and if you only have room for one Wisteria, then for scent and vigour Wisteria brachybotrys ‘Shiro-kapitan’ is a winner. This has a white flower. Wisteria brachybotrys Murasaki-kapitan has a purple flower. (I haven’t missed the inverted commas off the last name, this is how it is listed in the Plantfinder).
Chris Lane of Witch Hazel Nursery in Kent holds the other National Plant Collection of Wisteria and often gets together with Marian to share plant material and ideas.