By Pat Foster-Turley
March 31, 2022
With the changing of the seasons, I change the places in my backyard that I hang out in. When we had colder weather and shorter days I spent a considerable amount of time building and poking a fire in my backyard fire pit. But now, its wisteria time!
Back when our house was being built some twenty some years ago, our backyard was nothing but bare dirt. But my mind was fully absorbed in studying landscape and gardening articles and envisioning the yard I wanted to have. And one of the things top on my list was a pergola with wisteria covering it. Well, thanks to Bucko’s efforts and my persistence we now have what I wanted and 20 years later it is perfect, at least for me.
Right now, the purple clumps of blossoms hanging almost like grapes on a vine are full of beauty and charm. The fragrance of wisteria greets me whenever I open the back door and even from my chair inside whenever I look up from my laptop I see the gorgeous blooms.
So, spring is my favorite time to have a few guests over to relax on sunny days. It isn’t too hot yet and during the day most of the noxious bugs are still hiding in the shrubbery. A few days ago a couple of friends hung out with me under the wisteria vines, eating snacks and sipping drinks. And that’s when we noticed them, the bees! The loss of pollinators like bees is a worldwide cause of alarm but right now in my yard with the wisteria all is well. We sat under the flowers listening to the bees buzz and it was all very relaxing as long as we didn’t try to bother them.
On this sunny day the lizards were also active around us. This year we all have been noticing more green anoles than the brown Cuban anoles, and that’s a good thing we believe. The Cuban anoles only arrived here fairly recently and at first seemed to drive the native resident green anoles out of the habitats where they once ruled supreme. The green anoles can change color from brown to green depending on their mood or environment. Some locals even call them chameleons for this trait, although they are not closely related to their Old World cousins, the true chameleons. But now the green anoles seem to be making a comeback and I’ve even seen them courting and mating on the walls of my house.
It was all very relaxing under the pergola until I noticed the drainage outflow at the other side of the retention pond. “Where are the geese?” I’m not really a fan of the geese that have moved into our world and taken over. They harass native birds, create big messes, and don’t belong here, but here they are and will be forever. So, I tolerate them. But now in early spring, I actually enjoy them. Each year a pair of geese makes a nest at the outflow, hatches out a few eggs, and for a week or so the offspring learn to float and swim in our pond before they walk away to parts unknown. “Mother Goose” as I call her (the same goose each year, I think?) spends about all her time on the nest except for a few forays to feed on the vegetation. And the male is always hovering nearby.
But this time, I didn’t see either one, even when I walked to the far side of the pond. Earlier we heard geese squawking. Did something happen to disturb them? But no, they were just on a look-see around the pond I guess. Soon enough Mother Goose was back on the next and the male (“Father Goose?”) stationed himself right in front of us in the pond, making sure we weren’t a threat.
So, all is well with the wisteria pergola, a perfect place to view nature in the spring. At least I think so, but Bucko strongly disagrees. He was against my idea of a wisteria-covered pergola from the start, due to the invasive spreading capacity of wisteria vines. And, I admit, he was right about this threat. What I see right now are beautiful purple flowers. What he sees is the vines spreading well to the top of the adjacent tall crepe myrtle tree, a problem that he will no doubt correct in time.
But not now. Not while the wisteria is blooming. It’s my week to enjoy it and so I will!
Pat Foster-Turley, PhD is a zoologist on Amelia Island. She welcomes your nature questions and observations. [email protected].