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March 2004

luck o' the shamrock

Today the Secret Gardeners at Barn Hill Care Center plant shamrocks for their rooms. The plants are large-leafed Oxalis, in burgundy and green. Surprisingly, most gardeners chose the burgundy for their rooms. Perhaps it is the promise of lavender flowers on the burgundy plants that attracts everyone.

The Gardeners donned latex gloves and transplanted the little plants into 4-inch clay pots. Saucers were supplied, so the gardeners will be able to confidently water their plants.

With tubs of potting soil on the table, Rosemary suggested potting the diffenbachia cuttings, which had broken from the mother plant and now stand rooted in water. Millie wanted to help her African violet, and indeed, the will to live is sometimes amazing. The violet looked like a miniature with shrunken leaves and stems. We watered the rock-hard soil and potted it into a 4-inch grow pot. Rosemary called it “Millie’s shrinking violet.”

Potting the shamrocks led to discussion about the significance of the plant in Irish lore. Joyce Strader, activities director, instantly searched it on the computer. First revered by the Druids because its leaves formed a triad, it later became a symbol of the trinity and used by St. Patrick. It is now the national symbol of Ireland.

We talked about our nationalities. Rosemary is a mix of English, Irish and Scottish. Joyce is all Irish, and another lady says she a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

We talk about future projects and Rosemary has two great ideas. One is to paint a flower garden on the side of a shed, and the other is to plant a flower garden near the spot where the ambulance parks. “Sometime when we’ve done everything digging, we’ll paint the shed,” she says. Sounds like a good late spring project.

So today we potted cheerful houseplants with a bit of history, followed by discussion of the plant and our own histories of place. It was a fun day.

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