My name is Elaine Knight, and I live in south Alabama. We (my husband and myself) inherited our property from my grandparents, and we named it "Knight Oaks." This is where we live, work and play.

I love to garden and my husband loves to hunt and fish, so our property is perfect for our retirement years. We have two children and five grandchildren, and it is so much fun to watch our family grow up in the woods. To me the land means "Family," and for that reason it is dear to my heart.



That Beautiful Purple Plant
by Elaine Knight - posted 03/22/11

I love all colors and textures in the garden, but one day I noticed that I was planting more purple flowers. It is becoming one of my favorite colors.  I have planted purple verbena, lantana, violas and pansies, and recently I painted an old ladder purple.  Why is purple so pleasing to the eye? Maybe it is because of the contrast against the green, or it could be that the blue sky has so many different hues of blue that it sometimes looks purple.  Whatever the reason adding a little purple to the garden will really blend in nicely with the pinks, reds, yellows and even whites. 


I will have to admit that one of my favorite purple plants is the old fashioned wisteria, Fabaceae (Leguminosae), that seems to grow wild in south Alabama.  Since we live in the woods, we are fortunate that we can explore and find old home places that still have some of the remmants of days gone by.  The  wisteria vine has been found growing up old pecan trees that are no longer bearing pecans.  It seems that they now are just there to support the old vines with their beautiful purple flowers.  My husband was talking to one of the older farmers native to the area, and in his conversation about the land, he said, " I sure do hate that 'WISITERIA' vine; it will cover the barn, and my wife wants to plant it everywhere."  Well one day against the wishes of my husband, I decided to transplant a few sprigs of this beautiful vine.  He had built me a small white trellis, and I knew that this was the perfect plant.  It is very pretty in the Spring, but it is just a few years old, and is already stressing the small trellis.  I have to prune it two or three times a year to keep it tidy, and to keep my husband from saying, "I told you so."  I also planted some yellow jasmine (which is native to the area) next to the trellis; the purple and yellow are very pretty on a Spring morning.




A Few Things to Consider When Planting Wisteria, according to "The Southern Living Garden Book"

Pruning and training are important for control of size and shape and for bloom production.  Let newly planted wisteria grow to establish framework you desire, either single-trunked or multi-trunked.  Remove stems that interfere with desired framework and pinch back side stems and long streamers.  For single-trunked form, rub off buds that develop on trunk.  For multiple trunks, select as many vigorous stems as you wish and let them develop; if plant has only one stem, pinch it back to encourage others to develop.  Remember that main stem will become good-sized trunk and that weight of mature vine is considerable.  Support structures should be sturdy and durable.  Do not allow Asian species to twine around and thereby damage railings, trellises, gutters, or small trees.



One of the pleasures of living in south Alabama is that you can travel the country roads and see many native plants.  It is so much fun to leave the interstate and take pictures of the wisteria vine when it is in bloom.  I hope you enjoy the following pictures that were made in Pike County on a Spring day.   





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Ellen Honeycutt (Atlanta, GA) - 05/11/2011

Hi - I am not sure if you realize this, but the wisteria that you see all over the side of the roads in spring is Asian wisteria - both chinese and japanese. It is not a native plant.
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