Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Wisteria Showers

the wisteria shower

the wisteria shower

I swear this is the first time I’ve ever posted a photo of a man taking a shower on the internet.

This is our wisteria shower. Most of the year it’s a bamboo shower, but in April you get to shower with the wisteria blooms cascading around you. The shower is on our front porch, but so far no one has walked in on either of us and the bamboos in pots around the shower do a good job of screening. Guests are usually a bit skeptical at first, but they become hooked as soon as they try it. We have an indoor shower, too, but it’s much nicer to shower outside, especially when the wisteria is in bloom.

Last year we got a much better bloom and two winters ago we had a frosty winter that had the wisteria covered in blooms. It’s an old, well-established wisteria with plenty of space to ramble so we’ve been slack about pruning it, but this year we’ll probably motivate. You prune wisteria twice a year to create spurs and it’s generally a good idea to stay on top of your vine, show it who’s boss. The Monster, in Sierra Madre, CA, is the most extreme example of what happens if you let your vine run wild. That wisteria, a single Chinese vine planted to cover a house, eventually swallowed up the house and caused it to be demolished, took over an entire acre of land, has an estimated weight of 250 tons and blossom count of 1.5 million per year, branches over 500 feet long, and is listed as one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world. The town now has an annual festival celebrating it.

Our wisteria isn’t quite at that level, but it’s one of the great features of our garden. We have two vines in our yards, a younger Chinese vine, Wisteria sinensis, and the Japanese one over the shower, Wisteria floribunda. Chinese wisteria is the more commonly planted variety around here, but the Japanese one is more fragrant and has longer flower clusters, so we’re glad it’s the one over the shower. Our landlord is the one who planted the wisteria, and he did it before he even added the porch, let alone the shower, but it turned out really well. I think one of his motivations for the shower, beyond mere aesthetics, was that the bathroom is old and somewhat poorly ventilated, and it would generally be a good idea for the house if we showered outside, but, whatever the reason, he added a great feature to the house, one we’ll probably try to recreate in any other house we might ever move to.

EwaintheGarden has a great gallery of wisteria photos.

ryan 4/19

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6 Responses to “Wisteria Showers”

  1. April 19th, 2009 at 11:37 am

    buenorific says:

    your long hair can’t cover up your red neck

  2. April 20th, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Frances says:

    Hi Ryan, what a wonderful way to shower, with wisteria and bamboo for shower curtains. Imagining not having to scrub the facility makes it sound like a great idea. Also living in a climate where being cold while wet is not an issue! 🙂

  3. April 20th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Pomona Belvedere says:

    I love outdoor showers, and since wisterias love water, it’s a great combination – as long as you know about how to prune it! I appreciate the pruning advice, as I just whack mine back whenever it looks as if it’s going to take over the place. I have seen wisteria pry its way through wallboards and tear shingles off a house, so I can well believe that it could eventually destroy one…

  4. April 20th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    wiseacre says:

    Go ahead and shower – I won’t look past the wisteria.

    Thanks for that link. Ya got to see it to believe it. That thing is a monster.

  5. April 20th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    lostlandscape(James) says:

    It’s curious that the wisteria wonder of the world is in California and not China or Japan–ah California and our excesses… The shower looks terrific. We’ve suddenly had a long weekend of withering heat, and a shower outside would have been just the ticket. And if the water somehow went back into the garden, that’d be even better!

  6. March 13th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    DryStoneGarden » Blog Archive » Tepee Occupant says:

    […] it several times last year, but I think I needed some time between it and the post about our outdoor shower. I don’t want to sound too feral. I may not have posted about it here, but the tepee […]

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