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Killer wisteria!

Posted Sunday, April 19, 2009, at 5:40 PM

This wisteria is growing up a 40-foot mulberry tree, which the vine has killed. Now I have a dead tree and a very much-alive vine with blossoms too high up to really appreciate! Any suggestions?
Okay, so do I win the wisteria contest if my vine is growing up a 40 foot mulberry tree???

When my husband and I planted this beautiful plant with the grape-like blossoms, we had no idea that it could take over the world! It reached out six or seven feet, grabbed hold of the then-living mulberry tree, and I thought, "Oh, won't that be beautiful!"

HA! Now the only way anyone can enjoy the bloom is to get a crick in their neck, looking up to the top of the tree -- which, I might add, is now DEAD! So much for symbiosis! How can something SO BEAUTIFUL be so DEADLY??

I first saw a wisteria, when I left my hometown of Dexter at the callow age of 17. Enrolled in SEMO, I lived at the old Leming Hall, which all you "mature" folks know, was where the University Center is now. I have warm memories of that ancient building with the tall windows and deep window seats.

In fact, everything in Cape was magic! I thought it had to be the most wonderful city in the world - and that campus was undoubtedly the most beautiful in existence!

Between Leming Hall and Kent Library was the most gorgeous, exotic bush I ever saw in my life. It was right in the front corner, probably ten feet in diameter, with those aromatic, lavendar, grape-like clusters. We walked past it every day when we went to class. Heavenly!

I don't know when the college - in all its collective wisdom - cut the wisteria down, but now that I know the plant better, I'm amazed that they were able to kill it. It seems pretty darned tough.

My son Matthew and I stood and looked at it today, and he said, "Well, I guess we're gonna have to cut it all out - tree, bush and all!" For once, I think he might be right.

However, if the wisteria does what it did at my mom's house in Springfield, I don't think we have to worry about it totally disappearing. I have a feeling that I'll need to get a BIG trellis ready for it when it rises from the dead!

Are there any wisteria experts out there to give advice??

From the green hills of Tillman, this is your rural reporter, wondering if wisteria can open doors??

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

By the way, I saw the first hummingbird Wednesday, when it was still SO COLD! He was drinking nectar out of my "Million Bells" petunias hanging on the front porch. I promptly put out the hummingbird feeder and later saw him sitting on the perch, shivering. Yesterday I saw two!

This morning I feel as if it's officially SPRING!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 8:24 AM

The campus at SEMO is magical! I lived in Dearmont, but I stayed at Leming once while at Band Camp. One of my favorite memories of walking there is the sidewalks that were below the level of the gorgeous lawns, making the walker at eye-level with flowers, grass, and many squirrels. If you didn't go to school in Cape--that might not make sense. I always wanted to knock on the doors of the historic homes and ask for a tour. One year, I lived in one on North Street--for a month or two. Beautiful home, but crabby landlady! There were many lovely flowers and vines then, and I'm sure they are thriving still.

Your wisteria is beautiful, but it does appear to be a problem. Our Spanish moss is romantic and takes one back to the "Gone With the Wind" era, yet it kills trees also. I guess with all beauty comes a dash of "evil". I wish I had a solution for you. You need a botanist for this one. Maybe KK has the answer. I'd bet he will find a solution for you.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 2:53 PM

I have no suggestions about your wisteria, but do agree that SEMO is 'magical!' SEMO has a beautiful campus. The amazing scenery made you want to get out and walk across campus no matter what the season. I would love to see it now!

-- Posted by fun2teach on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 5:16 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Still beautiful, but so changed from when I was there! There's a new entrance with a fountain on Broadway. I guess it makes sense - It opens up that area so you can see better without those old buildings that sat there.

Kent Library has changed significantly. When I was there, you could read the names of the great authors across the top of the building. The main study area had long wooden desks with affixed lamps on each end.

We had to go get books up in the stacks, which had metal grid-work floors! I can't believe how the kids can lounge in comfort now!

I still remember the smell of the old library!

MD, If the mulberry is indeed past all or any resurrection, do the humane thing and take it out, good firewood....the wisteria, hmmmm, different tune, although if you have good root stock and a sound trunk, you would do well to pull as much as you can down and tie it across a good stand, trellis, (arbor is a much better way to go, and let it perfume the yard),but if it has realy killed a tree, then make the lemonade from the lemons!!!!Use the mulberry(I'm assuming that it is the bearing variety??)for the wood/posts from which to make your arbor, other than that I haven't a clue, except you could treat it like kudzu and have a good bonfire!!! NOW, as to Leming Hall, I lived in Myers for three semesters, and I vaguely remember a BUSH beside Leming, but wasn't that a lilac??Been a few moons since I have graced the top of that hill with my presence, it may have been a bush variety of wisteria, but I've seen trees/Wisteria or some derivative down in Arkansas(Sheridan, for one town)that were forty-plus feet high and that was the plant, a tree!!!!! More research is needed, but as for me, whack it out, save the biggest stalks, limbs, and weave yourself a nice arbor around the old mulberry stump, not nearly as messy... and a good spot for a hammock in the sweet shade....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 6:07 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
As you faced the library, looking from Normal Street, the bush was in the far right corner before the drive which went back to Myers. It was on the grounds of the library, and it looked like a big mound, with branches arching down to the ground.

Wisteria may be like crepe myrtle, in that it's a bush in the more northern parts of the country and a tree in the more southerly regions. The crepe myrtles in Norfolk are definitely trees - and they're planted EVERYWHERE! In this part of the country, they're definitely a bush.

My wisteria has vines as big as my fist, and they twine around themselves. It'll take a chain saw to cut through them.

I very much like the idea of an arbor. Maybe I can hire the Mennonites to build me one!

Thanks for the advice!

The scent of wisteria is heavenly and it comes in both a tree and vining variety. As to how to effectively disengage it from anything it has claimed I have no idea. Keep us posted, just in case we have a similar problem.

-- Posted by SKDellinger on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 11:10 PM

Diesel + Match + Beer = Bonfire!

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 10:45 AM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Inflamatory advice from the hoon, as usual! I'll bet your college buddies put you in charge of lighting the bonfires, didn't they?

Wow! Thanks for the update! The next time I visit Southeast Missouri I am definitely going to stop by SEMO and take a stroll across campus. I usually drive by Cape, but do not stop. I would love to see the fountain! I would also love to visit the residence halls I lived in (Towers East, Towers South and Myers Hall). Oh, what wonderful memories I have from my time at SEMO!

Good luck with your wisteria!

-- Posted by fun2teach on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 1:29 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Yep! Magic! Pure magic!

There may actually be more fountains that you haven't seen -- Had they done the one in front of Kent Library when you were there?

We Leming girls had to go to Myers Hall to eat, since there was no longer a cafeteria at our dorm. Maybe that's another reason why I didn't have a weight problem back then. Who can chow down on food, when there are so many hot guys watching you??

Here are 2 excellent resources for plant questions:



The first is the MO U extension website, and the other is MO Botanical Gardens.

-- Posted by gardengirl on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 1:57 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Thanks, gardengirl! Between kkcaver and your online source, I should be able to figure it out!

Great Idea Hoon! A Good-bye Wisteria Party at Chateau DeJournett! Barbecued ribs, chicken, burgers and hot dogs with tree felling and Wisteria burning in between brews!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 8:47 PM

MD, Did you really intend to plan a party? Be sure to publish the date and directions. I'll bring a match. (and a bag of doggy treats) Look out!!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 9:48 PM

I bet all of the fountains make the campus even lovelier! There were no fountains when I was there. That makes me want to visit campus even more!

Myers Hall was renovated into suites just before I lived there. It was absolutely beautiful! There was no cafeteria so we had to eat at Dearmont, the University Center or Towers Complex.

I think the 'hot guys' along with all of the walking and climbing kept the weight off of me. Nothing like hiking up Cardiac Hill two or three times a day or hiking up the stairs in Towers when the elevators were out! Living on the eleventh floor sure kept me in shape. Not to mention...you could meet a lot of nice guys in the stairwell. I loved hanging out with the ones who would carry my books, laundry, etc. up or down all of those stairs!

-- Posted by fun2teach on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 8:46 AM

We always said you could tell the SEMO kids by the condition of their calves. Ha! Besides that, when I was there very few kids owned cars. It is a beautiful campus--always has been. Fall leaves, Spring flowers, snow and sliding on trash can lids...all made SEMO memories. My freshman year was the first time I'd ever needed, or used, an umbrella. Anyone else?

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 10:09 AM

Memorial Day Weekend??????

I can read it now....

from the green hills of Tillman in the middle of piles of mass wisteria, beer cans, cigarette butts, and other litter, this is your rural party animal reporter reporting on what had to be the biggest wisteria BBQ in the state!

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 11:43 AM

Gonenow --

Umbrellas were a wonderful thing until the wind blew them inside out! There's nothing like fighting with an umbrella on the way to class! I finally gave up and bought a rain coat.

As for snow days at SEMO...laundry baskets and big pieces of cardboard were also great items to use for sledding! I loved the snow! Still do!

-- Posted by fun2teach on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 2:47 PM

Didn't Def Leppard have an album in the 80's called Wisteria?????

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 8:55 AM

Jeminy Christmas!!!Umbrellas at SEMO?? YES, when you had to go from Myers up to North Hall and it was pouring-A$$ rain, the march at ten in the morning was a stretch, HOWEVER, if you shuffled along just so, you could get there, shake off walking through McGill, and still make it out the north doors to class with some modicum of "What can I SAY", the earnest result of shaking like a puppy out of the downpours???You bet, SEMO gave you a workout, and we've never forgotten!!!....molater, kkr(Darned if I don't still smell the coal plant fumes at the top of those stairs!!!)

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 12:37 AM

Tell us more.....frat parties? Purple Crackel stories?.....etc?

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 12:18 PM

Hoon...you are hysteria-cal! Frat parties...the Purple Crackel...are you kidding?! I know nothing, absolutely nothing about those things!

On a more serious note...anyone ever work for the Office of Residence Life as a Resident Advisor or Peer Advisor? That was a great way to pay for your room and board. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of scholarships that paid for tuition and books. ORL rounded things out and made it possible for me to graduate from college debt free. I also made some wonderful friends.

-- Posted by fun2teach on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 7:14 PM

Mmm...I worked for 50 cents an hour at the Audio Visual Department in Kent Library... Didn't pay for much on THAT salary! Still, they had interest-free National Defense Education loans (I think that was what they were called) for teachers back then, so that was a good deal. Room and board at the dorms was only $262 a semester, if I remember right...

I won a twist contest at the Crackle - in my black string dress... Wish I could get in it now!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 24, 2009, at 8:24 PM

I remember the final walk I made on my last day at Southeast. I was leaving Kent Library and walking the path just east of Academic. As excited as I was to finally be graduating, I found myself crying as I made my farewell walk.

Now, when I'm at our Cape house, I walk the campus as often as possible. First, it's a dandy of a walk! Secondly, every time I'm there I let myself drift back and enjoy the memories. The campus around Academic really hasn't changed that much, other than the University Center. I love walking around Academic, and I still try Cardiac Hill. If I make it to the top without having to stop, I put my gum on the "gum tree."

I worked in the Psychology building for the guy who headed up Student Teaching--sweet man but can't remember his name. Began with a B. I also worked in the snackbar at Greek Housing! I was a Tri Sigma and it was close to "home."

The fountain in front of Kent Library gets "sudsed" every once in awhile. Somebody puts soap in it and away it goes! The fountain at the Broadway entrance is really cool. It's a wall of water on both sides of the street, with seasonal flowers planted in front.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 11:59 AM

GL--we really might be related. I won a twist contest, too--at DHS. Ha--the principal and a couple of teachers judged, so it was really a sophisticated title. My SEMO job was as a clerk in the Secretarial Service. I learned a lot working for a perfectionist, Mrs. Sible. I also worked at a pharmacy on the boulevard (Tinkhoff's)--a long walk in the cold. (uphill both ways, of course--ha) I'm just glad I did it then--I couldn't do it now, I'm sure!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 6:23 PM

In addition to working for Residence Life I also worked at Tutorial Services in Kent Library. My Senior Year the Dean of Students Office took over Tutorial Services. The Dean of Students Office was located in the UC.

All of my jobs had to be on campus. I was too big of a chicken to walk off campus to work! The only time I had a car during my college years was when my big brother would lend me his. He was in the military and would let me have his car when he was deployed overseas. I hated him being gone so I would have rather been without a car.

-- Posted by fun2teach on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 8:09 PM

Oh, yeah, I'll bet none of us had cars! My boyfriend had one, and he MADE me get a summer job, so we often juggled his car. When my family moved off from southeast Missouri, I was left to depend on him for a lot of things. That was okay, though, as he had more of my interest at heart than they did.

Hey, girls, how many of you got PINNED??? Haha! We had a lovely torchlight ceremony on the steps of Leming Hall (my gosh, why don't I have more pictures?!). Then, his frat brothers took him down to the Capaha pond and threw him in! He waded duck poop to get out! Ah....those were the days!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Apr 26, 2009, at 3:55 PM

My summer job was at Osterlohl's Book Store, which was next door to Gaynor's (?) Shoes, which is now Brown's Shoe Store. The book store is long gone. The boss used to hide behind the shelves and watch us to make sure we tried to sell the leather briefcases, which must have had a killer mark-up on them! We also got in trouble if we didn't go force people to buy greeting cards!

Two sweet little ladies, both named Grace, worked there for $1.00 an hour. I don't think they had cars, either.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Apr 26, 2009, at 4:01 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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