In pursuit of a social climber
Country Life UK|March 17, 2021
Of wisteria, noble litter pickers, lockdown funerals and shaggy hounds
Jamie Blackett

SEE if you can reach that one going under the slates.’ This month’s column finds me up a ladder, where I have been each March since we clothed the front of the house with that loveliest and most invasive of climbers, the wisteria. The Chief Horticulturalist stands at the bottom, seemingly unconcerned about the imminent risk of widowhood. I lift my head over the fascia so that my chin rests in the gutter and gingerly reach across the roof to find the offending tendril and give it a yank.

As I do so, I reflect on how the characterisation of Adam and Eve makes the story of Man’s original fall in the Book of Genesis so believable. There is a serpentine quality to Wisteria sinensis, China’s finest botanical export. I love the way it winds itself around drain pipes with subtle wiliness, until I have to free its strands before they’re prised from the masonry.

On my ascent this time, I passed last year’s goldfinch nest in a thicket of branches where the fuchsia, the rose and the wisteria meet in a pleasing composition. Higher still, the muddy outline of an old swallow’s nest reminds me that our colony must soon be leaving their winter hideaway in the South African veldt to come home, if they haven’t already.

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