Every March (save for 2020), people travel to see the largest Wistaria Vine in the world, on the private property of a home on 505 North Hermosa Avenue in Sierra Madre. The vine weighs 250 tons with 1.5 million blossoms spreading across an acre between two houses.
In April of 1894, 13 years before the community’s incorporation, the new owners of the house on the corner at Carter Avenue drove their horse and buggy to the local nursery to purchase a “Chinese Lavender” wistaria in a gallon container for 75 cents. As the story goes, the vine was planted near the front porch of the house on Hermosa and it grew exponentially over the years.
On Saturday, work was being performed in the gardens of the famed, recently sold (April) Wistaria Vine at 505 N. Hermosa. Concerned neighbors began to notice what they thought was the demise of the $1.5 million Guinness Book of Record’s holder for the oldest and largest such vine which is the centerpiece of a festival held each March in honor of the historic vine.
Needless to say, in the brave new social media era, reaction was swift and deafening, with calls for protests outside the house, to demands of boycotting the realtor who sold the house; the language was growing more heated by the nanosecond.
Rushing to judgement, some Sierra Madre Facebook posters were convinced the end of the Wistaria Festival was at hand and that the new owners be blacklisted, or forced out of town.
What a warm welcome to Sierra Madre!
The new owners apparently have no intention of removing the vine, they were merely attempting to trim the overgrowth and make the vine healthier.
Laura Aguilar, the Administrative Services Manager and acting Sierra Madre City Clerk, confirmed as much.
According to Aguilar, the owners of the property advising the City that the Vine is overgrown and needs to be trimmed as part of general maintenance for the over-all health of the Vine and to mitigate rodent infestation.
“The city intends to work with the owners of the property to ensure that all work performed is accomplished with consideration and preservation of the Vine,” read a statement released by the city Monday. “The city has also requested that the homeowner provide a report from a certified arborist and botanist that includes the health of the Vine and impacts that any structural changes to the home and deck would have on the Vine.”
On Saturday, the city sent out a person from code/public works to ask the owners to cease trimming until Monday when they could check if a permit was required for the work. The owners were very happy to comply and no doubt confused about all the fuss on social media:
“The vine is not listed on the NHR. It was merely recognized by World Guinness Records, which is as powerful as the World Beauty Pagent (sic),” declared one FB poster.
Then there was this:
“I promise this much. You. The city council, will roux (sic) the day you let the wisteria vine be cut down. This is heracy (sic)of the highest order. You have failed here. You have failed the citizens of Sierra Madre. You have failed a 125-year tradition. You have failed the basic principle. Always protect the history of the town. I call on you know to right this wrong. Good luck.”
Someone also posted photos of the alleged vine destruction and commented thus:
“From these photos it appears half the vine is gone, and that cut back may kill the rest of the plant. We no longer have the largest vine in the world I’d guess. So very sad what these people have done to the beautiful lady. When I heard the house had been sold I was so concerned they wouldn’t allow the yearly showing of the vine, but didn’t think of this!”
This is a developing story. Please check back to see official updates.