The Most Enchanting Place in Montclair

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (20)

If you have never seen the wisteria blooming at the Van Vleck Gardens in Montclair, stop whatever you are doing right now and go (assuming you are not in the middle of surgery or reading Baristanet). When wisteria is in its full glory, as it is now, it is in two words, breath-taking. Hundreds of  massive purple grape-like racemes dangle from the vines that wrap the back of the house as the lovely scent wafts through the air.

Howard Van Vleck planted his Chinese wisteria vines in 1939 and trained them to twine  in opposite directions. Wisteria sinensis, Chinese wisteria, naturally twine counter-clockwise while its cousin W. floribunda (Japanese wisteria), twines clockwise.  Now 73 years old, the vines are starting to show structural problems. If you would like a piece of history there will be seedlings for sale from one of these two massive vines at the garden’s plant sale this coming May 5th-6th.

Sometimes it is an invasive vine that can grow around trees and choke them. If you have a massive old wisteria on your property, as I did in my old house, you may find the long cord-like roots growing everywhere and popping up new shoots. Wisterias love discipline and even abuse. Mine have always been full of blooms after being trained, pruned and slapped. The true Honey Badger of the plant world.

Because of how quickly it grows and its beauty, wisteria is not without its share of fame. The largest wisteria vine on record is 115 years old and is located in Sierra Madra, CA where the Guinness Book of World Records has named the vine as the World’s Largest Flowering Plant. Estimated at the height of its bloom, the vine has 1.5 million blossoms with 40 blossoms per square foot, weighs 250 tons and has branches that extend 500 feet (one acre)! There is also the  amazing wisteria tunnel in Kawachi Fuji Garden that is on my bucket list. My favorite wisteria vine in the world is the vine that wraps around the green Japanese bridge at Monet’s home in Giverny.

Check out the slide show below to get a peek at the other things blooming at Van Vleck Gardens, and the bee keeping.

One of these pictures was not taken at Van Vleck – can you guess which one?


  1. POSTED BY Mrs Martta  |  April 18, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    Exquisite! Must get some…we held off buying it while we had our dog because I read it can be toxic to pets.

  2. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  April 18, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    The pods are the problem. They do not taste good but some pups will chew on anything!!!

  3. POSTED BY Mrs Martta  |  April 18, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    My Kelly loved to pick up anything from the ground. I am glad you posted this…I was wondering when the plant show was.

  4. POSTED BY dazedandconfused  |  April 18, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    Oh my goodness

  5. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 18, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    It’s magical there this time of year.

  6. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  April 18, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    Beautiful landscaping over at Van Vleck.
    We try to get over there every year this time of year.
    And, the house is finished with cut and carved limestone, unlike the proposed ” Fountain Square”.

  7. POSTED BY kbanda  |  April 18, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

    Where is the entrance? I know where the place is and have driven around but can’t find a main entrance or parking. Maybe I didn’t drive around enough? Anyone?

  8. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  April 18, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    kbanda, enter through the house’s iron gates from Van Vleck Street, just up the hill a block and a half from the Nauna/QuickCheck shopping center.

  9. POSTED BY walleroo  |  April 18, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

    Gorgeous, Holly. And Van Vleck isn’t bad, either.

  10. POSTED BY walleroo  |  April 18, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    What I’d like to know is how unusual is this spring from the standpoint of a botanist? We’ve got azaleas, wisteria, viburnum, daffodils, red bud, cherries all blooming at once. How weird is that?

  11. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  April 18, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    Ruh roh. Is ‘roo experiencing a new crush? I hope Liz doesn’t find out about this, you might lose your cushy palace of dirt.

  12. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  April 18, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    It’s definitely weird, Roo. Hydrangeas which normally don’t bloom till July
    are already in bud. It makes me wonder what Fall’s going to be like.

  13. POSTED BY kbanda  |  April 18, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    Thanks, Spiro. Do you park on the grounds? I’ll give it another try.

  14. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  April 18, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    kbanda, they have parking just inside the gate, or you can park on the street in front.

  15. POSTED BY frobnitz  |  April 18, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    What days of the week and what hours are the Van Vleck gardens open to the public?

  16. POSTED BY dazedandconfused  |  April 18, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

    Here is their website

  17. POSTED BY frobnitz  |  April 18, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

    Thank you dazed

  18. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  April 18, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    Click on any of the type above in blue and it will link you the the mentioned website.

  19. POSTED BY stephenschuckman  |  April 19, 2012 @ 7:05 am

    From a botanical standpoint it is a very odd spring. This is due to the mild winter, which did not put frost deep into the soil. Root activity started early, helped along by warm March and dry conditions (wet soils stay cooler). The real danger is the lack of significant precipitation. Large trees require large volumes of water to expand leaves. Just watch what next week looks like if it does rain this weekend. That said, water your landscape plants…they need it. And your trees.

  20. POSTED BY Conan  |  April 20, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    “…assuming you are not in the middle of surgery or reading Baristanet.”

    I always read Baristanet during surgery. It really ticks off my patients, but I get so informed…

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