by Elaine Mills, Certified Master Gardener
Photos © 2017 Elaine Mills
The Sunny Garden has a new focal point: a striking wooden arbor arching over the central entrance path. The new structure was designed and installed by Master Gardener Alex Dickman and her husband Doug, with assistance from a number of volunteers who joined the garden’s work party on March 9, 2017.
The idea for the arbor originated when Alex realized that the native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) she had planted in a newly-designed bed in May 2014 had overgrown its low fence and was sprawling over the neighboring perennials. Consulting with garden coordinator Kate Donohue, Alex decided to try to train the vine upward over a vertical structure such as the one in the White House Kitchen Garden.
Over the course of the morning work party, Doug and Alex dug the necessary 2-foot-deep holes for the foundation and assembled the pre-cut beams. Then, with help from several Master Gardeners, they righted the arbor and carried it to its final position where it was cemented into place. Propagation expert Bob Lund provided guidance in removing the wisteria from its original location, pruning it back, and transplanting it adjacent to the arbor.
Alex and Kate are investigating the type of fastenings (possibly u-nails) best suited for training the wisteria over the arbor. As the vine is a relatively fast grower, ultimately reaching 30 feet, they are hopeful that it will be reestablished and sending forth more lovely lavender blossoms before long.
For information on the design of the White House Kitchen Garden:
For more information on growing our native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens):
For information on invasive Japanese and Chinese wisteria: