Of all plants perhaps the wisteria looks most obviously pregnant before it bursts its buds. Just now the competition is fierce among the countless wisterias of Kensington. There are veterans bending railings and wrenching down-pipes, infants reaching wildly for their first grip, and dozens of perfectly-pruned, proudly, displayed specimens adorning the fronts of terrace houses. Teamwork has done wonders. Just round the corner three householders evidently work on their marvellous plant together. Its gnarled spurs, now starting to dribble their purple down the masonr, cover sixty or seventy feet of façade.
What about a wisteria championship? Who would like to organise local and regional heats, with points for size, coverage, tidiness, colour, and above all number of tassels? Just a London one, perhaps, to start with. I can see The Evening Standard under its feisty Russian proprietor making a go of it.
Size is not everything. The world’s biggest is apparently in California and covers an acre of ground. In the forests around Kyoto I have seen the tree canopy across a valley mauve with wisteria here, mauve with paulownia there. No, this is not that sort of contest; more a concours d’elegance. The time to start is now and the place, judging by what I can see from the café on the corner, London W8.