Atlanta is the only major metropolitan city in the U.S. that is built in a forest. That is how a local television meteorologist explained the extremely high pollen count of 8000 last week.

I join thousands of Atlantans who suffer with runny nose, itching eyes, and constant sneezing during this season. I don’t like the greenish yellow dust that covers my car and everything else around. But I am glad spring has arrived after a cold and wet winter.

The jonquils and daffodils have come and gone. The beautiful but short life of the cherry blossoms is over. Azaleas are beginning to bloom. The grass and trees are starting to green up. The pink flowers of the burgundy-leaf loropetalum have bloomed. The dogwoods can be scattered through the woods. Soon the bright yellow forsythia will flower. And the wisteria is everywhere.

Wisteria has been called the South’s most beautiful vine. It was named in honor of an anatomy professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Caspar Wistar (1761-1818). There are ten species of this deciduous vine, two are native to the southern United States and the others are native to Asia. I understand that many people actually plant it in their landscapes. The species that are common to this region host beautiful large drooping clusters of lavender flowers.

These vigorous, twining vines can grow ten feet or more in one year. So if you are thinking about including them in your landscape, you must be extremely diligent to keep them pruned. Wisteria will climb any supporting structure- a tree, pergola, wall. If allowed to grow on your house, serious damage can be expected.

The world’s largest known Wisteria vine is in Sierra Madre, California, planted in 1894, measures more than one acre in size and weighs 250 tons.

Because of its highly invasive nature I am not eager to plant any Wisteria in our backyard. However, I am grateful for the extensive growth on the trees that line the streets and highways all around the city.

The highly invasive nature of wisteria calls for diligence in control so that the value of its beauty can be preserved. It provides an analogy for life. Many things (perhaps most things) have the potential to be helpful or harmful. The expression of “too much of a good thing” illustrates the truth that even “good” things can be “bad” if balance is not maintained.

We need to value the “wisterias” in our life and our world while carefully and prayerfully exercising spiritual disciplines to control the destructive potential.

Jamie Jenkins