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

My Version Of The Twelve Days Of Christmas ... In Flowers

             You probably know the song ... on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  
This ... is a Partridge. Looks kind of like a pheasant to me. Whatever. Anyway, it is not exactly what I would want on the First Day Of Christmas  ... as well as the next 11 days following Christmas. Nor do I want or need Calling Doves, French Hens, etc. My dear hubby, Bill, knows the way to my heart ... he knows I love flowers! So, I dedicate this blog post to  him, my True Love. This is my version of The Twelve Days of Christmas ... In Flowers!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
         a pretty, frilly pink Pe-on-y.

         On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
two yellow Roses ...
and a second lovely pink Pe-on-y.

       On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
three white Daisies
   two yellow Roses
     and my favorite flower ... another pink Pe-on-y.

   On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
     four lavendar Lilacs
       three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
       and, Oh My ... another lovely pink Pe-on-y.

           On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
              and another ...  pink Pe-on-y.

        On the sixth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
six stunning Tulips 
 four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
   and another very pretty Pink Pe-on-y.

  On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me ...
seven fragrant Sweet Peas
six stunning Tulips 
four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
and to my delight ... another pink Pe-on-y.

   On the Eight Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 
eight purple Poppies 
seven fragrant Sweet Peas, six stunning Tulips 
 four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
     and a rosy pink  ... Pe-on-y.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
nine nodding Bluebells
eight purple Poppies, seven fragrant Sweet Peas, Six stunning Tulips
four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
       and ... what else? Another pink Pe-on-y!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
     ten tiny Violets
nine nodding Bluebells, eight purple Poppies, seven fragrant Sweet Peas
six stunning Tulips
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
    and another sparkling Pink Pe-on-y!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
eleven lovely Lupines
 ten tiny Violets, nine nodding Bluebells, eight purple Poppies
seven fragrant Sweet Peas, six stunning Tulips
        ---FIVE GOLDEN SUNS ---
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
       and what else? Another ruffly, pink Pe-on-y!

    And on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
11 lovely lupines
 10 tiny Violets
 9 nodding Bluebells
8 purple Poppies
 7 fragrant Sweet Peas
 6 stunning Tulips
4 lovely Lilacs
3 white Daisies
2 yellow Roses
 12 beautiful flowers
as perfect as can be
Ah, come on, you know ....
it was a dozen lovely, PINK PE-ON-IES!

Wishing you all
 a very

Thanks to Pixabay for use of the photos used in this blog.

Monday, November 25, 2019

In The Poconos - Let's Talk Turkey!

Folks, Can you believe it! Another Thanksgiving is upon us.

Now, let's get down to talking turkey. Pictured above: the North American wild turkey. NOT WHAT'S ON YOUR DINNER TABLE. Here's the facts ....

 1. They are the largest game birds found in North America.
 2. They are intelligent, social, and have excellent eyesight and hearing.
 3. wild turkeys can fly short distances up to 55 mph.
 4. They can run up to speeds of 35 mph.
 5. Only male turkeys, called Toms, can gobble.
 6. When a Tom gobbles, the sound can be heard up to a half a mile away.
 7. On average, their lifespan is 4-5 years in the wild, sometimes as long as 10.
 8. Wild turkeys have between 5000-6000 feathers. The male's feathers are more colorful with areas of red, purple, green, brown, bronze, and gold. Its 18 beautiful long tail feathers, called a fan, are proudly displayed during breeding season to attract a female.

Trivia:  If Ben Franklin had his way, the North American wild turkey would have been the national symbol of the United States ... not the American bald eagle.  He felt that the bald eagle was a creature of "bad moral character."

Trivia:  There is some controversy concerning the claim that the Pilgrims hosted the First Thanksgiving in the New World in the Fall of 1621. There is speculation that in 1598 a Spanish explorer had led an expedition of 500 people across southern Mexico finally reaching the banks of the Rio Grande near San Elizario, Texas. In "thanksgiving" for their survival on their long, arduous journey, they held a mass and feasted on local game and fish from the region.

         Folks,  pictured below are the turkeys that will wind up on your dinner table for Thanksgiving. They are commercially raised domesticated white turkeys. 

1. They, too, are intelligent and social. Their vision and hearing is just not as developed as their wild cousins.
2. They cannot fly.  Because they are bred to have larger breasts and thighs, they are much heavier than their wild cousins. They weigh, on average, twice as much as wild turkeys.
3. The lifespan of commercially raised turkeys is very short - on average, 126 days.
4. They are bred to have white feathers.

Trivia:  Since the pin feathers are white, unattractive dark blotches won't mar the surface of the bird's skin after it has been plucked.

Trivia:  The average weight of a Thanksgiving Day turkey is 16 pounds.

                          Happy Thanksgiving to all!