Wonderful wisteria


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If there is one plant that can dominate a garden, it's Chinese wisteria. In May, its long flowering racemes of pink, purple or white drape across pergolas, porches, and sometimes whole houses or trees. Diane Kumanchik planted hers at the base of a pine tree in Ohio Township. Today, eight years after she passed away, her husband Phil allows it to continue to scale the 65-foot tree as a memorial.

"That was just her best creation," he said last year. "It means she's working in heaven."

Cathryn Brandau, owner of Shadyside Restorations, planted wisteria near the back of her restored house in Shadyside 25 years ago. It now covers the house and adds a fairy-tale quality to a playhouse she built for her 9-year-old granddaughter, Taylor.

Do you have a single plant that defines your garden? It might make you a winner in the PG Great Gardens Contest. Winners are featured in the Post-Gazette, receive a one-year membership to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden and get two tickets per winner to next year's Botanic Garden tour. May 20 is the entry deadline for spring gardens. Enter online only at http://biz.post-gazette.com/gardencontest/.

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