• A bee loves the wisteria in bloom. Photo by Pat Foster-Turley/For the News-Leader

Finally, wisteria in bloom!

Bucko and I have owned our home for nearly 20 years now. Soon after we moved in, we started to get some landscaping going on the bare, backyard lot. I perused gardening books, visited nurseries, bought and planted lots of shrubs and flowers, and had great dreams of the wonderful landscape it would become.

Well, many of those plants died somewhere along the way – bad construction-grade soil most likely, but perhaps some other, more human-caused factors. Right plant, wrong location? Maybe that too, but I really did do my research ahead of time.

But whatever the cause, the diversity of plants we put in are not there, and my dreams of a perfectly landscaped garden shrunk to those plants that managed to survive. Some of these are now magnificent, if I do say so myself. And most magnificent of all, in my opinion, is the wisteria!

I’ve always loved these vines – climbing up walls and along fences – that are indicative of the “Old South.” Asian wisteria is known to be invasive and to get large enough to crumble walls, and Bucko was not at all happy about this plant fixation I had. Eventually he gave in, though. He and our friend Rhonda built a deck with a heavy-duty pergola on top for me, just for my sought-after wisteria. I purchased two plants from a nursery, put one on each of two supporting posts, and dreamt of purple fragrant flowers.

But in all the years since, this has never happened for me. First off, the first two plants died. One got eaten away by ants, or so we think, and the other just failed to thrive and eventually died too, no matter what I did to try to save it. You can’t kill wisteria they say. Well, I can.

Somewhere along the line, I got a third plant that I dug up from a friend’s house in Gainesville. This was a feeble plant, and I probably damaged its roots in the digging, but I put it on a third post between the other two dying wisteria plants and hoped for the best.

Well for me, the “best” didn’t happen until this year. Although the plant from Gainesville eventually thrived and grew up to the top of the trellis, I always seemed to be away somewhere in the early spring when it bloomed. For Bucko and I, this plant seemed like more of a nuisance than an asset, as it vined up into the neighboring crepe myrtle and cypress trees and hung down almost to the ground on some sides of the deck.

But this year, at the right time, I’m home. I am finally seeing the wisteria blooming just like I visualized it many years ago. For a few weeks now this deck with wisteria on top has been a prime place for Bucko and I to relax. The scent of wisteria wafts in the air, the purple petals rain on us, and the bees that it attracts entertain us with their movements.

On one beautiful afternoon, Bucko and I sat on the deck and watched the bees. Soon we noticed the green anoles in mating chases (and sometimes, captures) on the shrubs in front of us. Looking a bit closer to the pond, I noticed that my wild zephyr lilies (aka local “Easter lilies”) were blooming. This was another scavenged plant that I got by digging them up along north Florida roadsides years ago, and now they have multiplied and are thriving.

We watched the cardinal pair at the bird feeder, the pair of ducks and the pair of geese in the pond, and laughed when the male goose chased the resident anhinga into the woods. Further into the woods, I could see a few of the azalea bushes in bloom. Like most everything else I planted, many of them died, but the four that survived are now large and, yes, magnificent.

To cap off the afternoon, I cut some sprigs of wisteria blooms and then put on boots to walk through the deep duff of the pinewoods to cut some sprigs of azalea blossoms too. I arranged them in a perfect pink vase and put them on a side table where I could continue to admire them through the evening.

Well, I now know that wisteria and azaleas do not stay fresh long as cut stems, but no problem there. For the next couple of weeks I have an ever-ready source of more to replace them. My wisteria is blooming and all’s well with the world!

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