Judy Tonderum


Jackson County Master Gardener

Saint Patrick was called “Apostle of Ireland.” His birthplace is uncertain but probably was in Southwestern Britain. At 16 years of age, he was carried off by Irish marauders and passed his captivity years as a herdsman near Mountain Slemish in County Antrim. The young herdsman saw visions in which he was urged to escape. After six years of slavery, he did escape to the northern coast of Gaul, now France. He was ordained a priest and he then returned to Ireland where he was eventually appointed a bishop. His reported use of the shamrock as an illustration of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, led to its being regarded as the Irish national symbol.  It was most likely white clover but it accomplished Saint Patrick’s goal for teaching his parishioners.

Because shamrock plants are seen in floral shops and grocery stores in March, they have become popular that month. These plants are actually species of oxalis or wood sorrel. The leaves are clover shaped and can be in shades of green, red, purple or a combination of all three. The blossoms are usually white, pink, yellow or red depending on the species. The Irish shamrock (oxalis) is a charming plant and perfect for growing indoors as well as outdoors.

Now for a little frivolity. Irish are known for such. Peas are great for early planting because their love of cool weather and resistance to frost. How early is early? Folklore may hold the answer. For a hearty growing season, tradition tells us peas should be planted on Saint Patrick’s day. Peas will germinate in soil as cool as 39 degrees F. To double up on good luck, also sow them during the waxing moon sign.

Don’t like sparrows in your garden? Hold a couple of peas in your mouth while you plant without speaking and the birds will leave your pea crop alone.

Plant mallow, an Irish wildflower, to welcome butterflies to your garden.

For a fun project on Saint Patrick’s day, put a white carnation in warm water with a few drops of green food coloring. Watch it turn from white to green. Fun for kids!

The Worm moon appears in March at various time depending on the year. A quote from Winston Churchill makes us smile  “We are all worms but I believe I am a glow worm!”

The Worm moon for March 2020 was March 9.

An Irish blessing – “May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and the road be downhill all the way to your door.”

Another quote in regard to March – “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” 

— Margaret Atwood,

a Canadian writer (born 1939 - )