Meeting makes spring seem closer

Having our first horticultural meeting of the year makes spring seem closer! The next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN on North Street. Our special guest will be Sasha Howland speaking to us about bees and honey. Bees are simply amazing; we know how wonderful and extraordinary bees are, and how important they are to nature and to us. I know it will be a fascinating presentation because there is so much to learn about the bees. Everyone is welcome; remember, you don’t have to be a member of the group to attend the presentation. Please note the date of this meeting: on a Thursday, for this occasion only. That’s Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN.

‘Tis the lucky day of the year: March 17, St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick was the “apostle of Ireland”, living somewhere around the 5th century. He is known for bringing Christianity to Ireland, and made the shamrock famous by using the three leaves to teach about the Trinity.

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The shamrock plant, oxalis, is a lovely and interesting little houseplant that belongs to the wood sorrel family. It grows only six to eight inches high, and has the fascinating activity of closing its leaves in the evening! The leaves are a bright, rich green, sometimes with burgundy shadings, and the plant has delicate, airy little white flowers. It likes to be in bright light, and have its soil evenly and consistently moist. The unique thing about the oxalis, though, is that is goes dormant in the summer. When we begin to see the leaves die back, don’t panic! The plant is just going into “rest” mode.

At this time, we should move out little oxalis into a dark spot, and water it only once in a while. The plant may rest for as long as three months. But when we see new shoots again, it is time to bring the oxalis out into the sun, and start watering and fertilizing it again.

If you are looking for Irish-themed plants, take a look at Bells Of Ireland, moluccela laevis. You can grow these interesting flowers in your garden from seed, and they will definitely be a conversation starter! If you are not familiar with them, they have tall spikes of small shell-shaped green flowers, and grow two to three feet tall. The flowers have a sharp, peppery fragrance, and tiny little barbs. They make wonderful cut flowers, sturdy and long-lasting, and if you like you can even dry them. Start them outdoors when danger of frost is past; you can also grow these in containers, and my goodness, that would make quite a statement plant! In spite of the name, guess what — they do not come from Ireland, they originate in the areas around Turkey and Syria. But the green color and the shape of the flowers make it only natural to call it Bells of Ireland!

And here’s an interesting little factoid: “Irish Moss” is not really moss at all. It is a seaweed, chondrus crispus, that grows in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a valuable and important commercial seaweed. I read that it is used for many things, including being a “clarifying agent in beer”. It is also called “carrageen”, and during the terrible famine in Ireland, it was used as food. In folklore, pieces of the Irish moss were kept on hand, as it was thought to bring safe travels, good luck, and wealth.

“May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.” Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, gardeners!

Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca to see what’s “coming up” and have a great week!

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