Friday, May 1, 2020

The Birth Flower For May ... Lily Of The Valley

One of the prettiest flowers in the spring landscape is Lily of the Valley.  It is the birth flower for the month of May.

Lily of the Valley's tiny bell-shaped, richly fragrant flowers usually bloom from late April through May.  Grown from rhizomes, the plants grow to a height of approximately 6 inches tall and and 6 to 12 inches wide. It prefers a shady spot in rich moist soil.  As an added bonus, Lilly of the Valley are deer resistant.

Besides pretty white flowers, Lily of the Valley can also be found in a delicate shade of pink.

As for it's meaning, Lily of the Valley signifies  humility, sweetness, and purity.  The plant is also sometimes referred to as Lady's Tears.

Lily of the Valley is lovely growing in the garden

or tuck a bouquet into a cute container!

Thinking more along the lines of something more formal?  Lily of the Valley is absolutely stunning when added to a May bride's wedding bouquet.

Keep Lily of the Valley in a shady, moist spot and she will continue to spread her intoxicating sweet fragrance and grace your garden with  her dainty bell-shaped flowers for years to come.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fools Day In The Poconos 2020 ... And Pandora's Box

Today is April 1st 2020. April Fools Day. It's supposed to be day filled with harmless pranks ... teasing, funny stories, and fun. Unfortunately, this year, April Fools Day, is filled with fear, sadness, and uncertainty.

COVID-19.  Coronavirus. I don't have to tell you what you already know. Our world is no longer the same world we knew just a few short months ago.  Yet, we have to ... believe

There is a story in Greek Mythology about a young woman who disobeyed the Gods by opening a box entrusted to her for safekeeping. She couldn't resist opening the box, and in doing so, released all manner of evils and sicknesses into the world. She hurriedly shut the box, leaving only one thing remaining inside the box. HOPE.  I have always thought of Spring as a time of HOPE and RENEWAL.  And what describes that better than Spring flowers! Hope these will lift your spirits a bit!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Shamrocks ... Myths, Legends, And Folklore

March 17th is St. Patrick's Day. It became so named in honor of St. Patrick who helped spread Christianity throughout Ireland during the 5th Century. Today, it is a festive holiday steeped in Irish customs and traditions that is celebrated throughout the world. The shamrock is probably the most recognized symbol of Ireland.
The first reference to the shamrock dates back to the 1500's. What the shamrock may have signified is what's questionable. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leafed shamrock to teach the pagan Celtic people of Ireland the concept of the Holy Trinity - God is one Being made up of three distinct Persons who co-exist as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It took forty years for St. Patrick to convert most of Ireland to Christianity. Yet, before St. Patrick had even begun to preach in Ireland, the Celtic people had long revered the little shamrock and had considered it a sacred plant. Being strong believers in mysticism and numerology, they believed the number three was very powerful. To them the number three represented things that were threefold in their culture such as the sky, earth, and the underworld. 

 It is easy to see why the Triquetra, or Celtic Knot, pictured below was already a prominent symbol in their culture.

This may seem like a odd question, but what exactly is a shamrock? There is really no true shamrock plant. According to most sources the word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamro'g. What varies is the word's meaning. Some say the word means little clover. Others say it means summer plant. The confusion doesn't end there.
   Some believe that either the white clover - Trifolium Repens
    Or yellow clover - Trifolium Dubius
could have been the true shamrock used by St. Patrick. Trifolium repens and Trifolium Dubium are considered clover and both part of a genus of about 300 species of plants in the legume (pea) family. The plants are either annual or perennial depending upon the species. They are both still grown today in Ireland for grazing purposes.

Pictured below is still another type of three leafed plant that may also be considered a shamrock.  It is in the Wood Sorrel family. It is called Oxalis Acetosella. It is also referred to as common wood sorrel.

Now that I have finished giving you some information about the main topic of my blog, Shamrocks ... Myths, Legends, And Folklore, I hope that you will enjoy this additional little photo tour of Ireland's lovely countryside.



Sunday, March 8, 2020

Five Annual Flowers That Don't Mind Pocono Mountain Frosty Springs

March, April, and even May in the Poconos ... can be very unpredictable. One day it's 70 degrees, and the next day we could have a dusting of snow. Soon many nurseries and big box stores in my neck of the woods will be stocking their shelves with all kinds of annuals and perennials. If you're like me,  by this time you have already been bitten by the "planting bug". So, we have to choose wisely. Let me tell you about some annuals that don't mind a little chill.

Sweet Alyssum. If you haven't grown it, it is a lovely little plant. It can easily spread a foot wide and anywhere from 3 to 8 inches tall depending on the variety. It likes the sun, but will tolerate some shade. It also is very drought tolerant as well. And it smells ... heavenly.  It comes in shades of white, pink, and lavender. And the biggest plus for me? Nothing eats it! Not deer, slugs, groundhogs, or squirrels. 

Calendula. Also known as Pot Marigold, it is a pretty flower with bright yellow or orange petals. It tolerates full sun to shade and grows 1 to 3 feet in height. Its petals can be added to soups, stews, and salads giving the dishes a slightly spicy taste.

Pansies are an early Spring staple here in the Poconos. They come in a multitude of bright colors. They grow 4 to 8 inches in height and and 8 - 12 inches in width.They absolutely love the cool weather and grow best in full sun or light shade. They will bloom brightly right into Summer before they need to rest. Shear them back and they often return for a second flush of flowers in the Fall. 

Petunias? Yes, Petunias. They love to bask in the sun, but also do well in partial shade. They won't survive hard freezes, but are considered cold tolerant to temperatures hovering around 39 degrees. They come in a variety of types and sizes.

Snapdragons. They love sun, but do their best when temperatures are cooler. The come in an array of colors and sizes. I happen to love the dwarf varieties. Keep them well watered and pinched back and they will continue to bloom right into Summer. 


Thursday, December 5, 2019

History Of The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

I'm sure you've seen photos just like this one above of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Maybe you've even visited New York City at Christmas time and personally viewed it in all its holiday splendor. But I bet you didn't know some of its fascinating early history!

On  the 31st of December 1931, a group of twenty construction workers erected a 20 foot tall balsam tree on the future site of what would eventually become Rockefeller Center. It was during the time of the Great Depression in America when more than 13 million people were out of work.  These men were among the fortunate who had jobs. In celebration of the Season, and having just been paid, they decorated the tree with strings of cranberries and paper garlands.  And so the tradition began.

1933 marked the official first year display of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  The tree was nearly 50 feet tall and covered with 700 lights.  

  In 1936 on Christmas Day, the first ice skating pond in New York City was opened to the public on the lower plaza.

The 1940's brought America into the second World War.  To show support for our troops overseas, three trees were displayed on the plaza ... each decorated in red, white and blue.

In 1951,  all of America got the chance to see the famous tree. The very first nationally televised lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree took place on the Kate Smith Show on NBC.

America became more environmentally conscious in 1971. It was the first year that the Rockefeller Christmas Tree was recycled into mulch to cover nature trails in in upper Manhattan. Since 2007, the tree has been donated to Habitat For Humanity and the wood has been used for milling purposes. 

*Happy Holidays To All