I've always loved wisteria. The heady scent, the bright purple blooms and the fact that it can take up to 20 years to properly bloom fascinates me. Wisteria only blossoms for a few weeks every year, if you're lucky, but the flowers in Cambridge are particularly impressive. "Wisteria hysteria" has become an online craze over the last couple of years and it's a trend which I am a huge fan of! Why wouldn't you want to hunt out the best spots in a city for a floral fix?
I've got lots of theories about why our generation loves plants; the mental wellbeing that plants can bring, the intention of caring for something other than ourselves, the joy of watching something grow and flourish, and a hobby which involves care and attention without the internet. Well, until you post it on Instagram - which we all inevitably do! Cambridge is packed full of beautiful blooms and its ancient buildings are the perfect home for giant wisteria. This year I went wisteria hunting and I wanted to share a route around Cambridge for any other victims of "wisteria hysteria." The whole route takes around 30 minutes and covers some residential areas of Cambridge as well as some of my favourite University colleges which are free to enter. So come and join me as I explore the streets of Cambridge...
1: Grafton Street
Start at the corner of Grafton Street, opposite the Adam and Eve car park near the Grafton Shopping Centre. This gorgeous white house has an impressive display of wisteria which looks particularly striking against the painted brickwork. I love the trails of purple petals which cover the front of the building, side and all along the top of the garden wall to the garage. It's the perfect example of how wisteria takes over a building and it's normally one of the first wisteria to bloom each year. Plus, it's easy to access and photograph unlike some of the wisteria inside the University of Cambridge colleges, which relies on their opening times.
2: Orchard Street
Orchard Street, located just a few minutes from Grafton Street, is an Instagrammer's dream. These pretty terraced cottages are beautiful to wander past all year round but when the wisteria blooms, it's really quite special. I love how rural this street in Cambridge feels, despite being just a stone's throw away from the city centre. The giant wisteria on the corner of Orchard Street is packed full of twisted roots and winding branches, along with plenty of bright purple blooms. In fact, there is so much wisteria that the original street sign has been obscured by the plant and another has had to be added instead!
3: Jesus College
Next, it's the first of the three University of Cambridge colleges; Jesus College. Sometimes forgotten because of its location slightly on the outskirts of Cambridge, an entire building is covered full of wisteria in the Spring months. It's free to enter and generally open more consistently than other colleges so it's a great place to visit all year round. In Spring, an entire wall of the building just beyond the entrance is covered with wisteria, which looks stunning behind the iconic horse statue for which Jesus College is known. Make sure you take a closer look at the wisteria too; I love how it winds around each window and the traditional streetlamps which always make me think of Narnia!
4: Christ's College
The next stop on my 30 minute wisteria walk is Christ's College. Christ's is free to enter all year and probably one of my favourite colleges in terms of architecture. The stunning golden entrance leads into a gorgeous court with that iconic college lawn for which the University of Cambridge is known. Spread across the first building you see is a wall full of wisteria, sitting prettily alongside an ornately decorated door. Unicorns and wisteria; what more do you need? However, it can be a tight window between the wisteria flowering and the college closing for the examination period, so make sure you check that the college isn't closed for the Quiet Period first.
5: Sidney Sussex College
The third and final college is Sidney Sussex. Of course it's free to enter and is packed full of stunning wisteria adorning the college walls. It also has the added benefit of wisteria outside, if the college is closed. I love how the wisteria trails along the top of the walls opposite Green Street, sitting above a constant row of bicycles - so Cambridge!
If you want to carry on a little further to Quayside, you can also spot some more wisteria alongside the river at Magdalene College, another free to enter college which has the added benefit of views of the River Cam and punting.
6: Park Terrace
Finally, loop your way past the bus station towards Parker's Piece for a final wisteria spot. The house on the corner of this park is covered with more gorgeous wisteria and another example of some of the amazing houses in Cambridge where I would love to live. Of course, as with all of these buildings, be aware that these are places where people live and to be respectful of their homes - they probably didn't predict the wisteria craze when they decided to grow them!
Circle back round to your starting point on Grafton Street or simply keep exploring; there's plenty more wisteria to be found throughout the city! One of the best ways to discover them is to simply wander the beautiful streets of Cambridge. Where is your favourite wisteria in Cambridge? I'd love to hear where you've discovered!