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Thoughts from the Cottage…

The big debate - shamrock or clover? While all shamrocks are clover, not all clovers are shamrocks.


Botanists are unable to agree exactly what species of clover is referred to as a “shamrock.” The word shamrock comes from a Gaelic word meaning “little clover” but does not necessarily point to a specific member of the clover family. Clover is the common name for a number of species in the Trifolium family, the word literally meaning “having three leaves.” Although there is some debate about which species is referred to as a shamrock, most botanists agree that the white clover (Trifolium repens) is the plant referred to as a shamrock.

While botanists debate which plants are shamrocks and which are clovers, many Irish know. Irish legend claims that St. Patrick used small clover with three leaves called shamrocks to illustrate Christianity’s holy trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Four-leaf clovers are the result of rare genetic mutations that occur in three-leaved clovers. While clovers with four leaves are considered lucky, they are not considered to be shamrocks by those familiar with about Irish tradition.

Shamrock vs Clover…

To force a bulb without soil, use a forcing glass (or any glass) to suspend the bulb over a small vase of water or you can put a layer of pebbles on the bottom of  the glass. When roots fill the glass and there’s an inch or two of top-growth, bring it into subdued light and warmer, but still cool temperatures (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit). After 7 to 10 days, move it into bright light, but keep it as cool as you can and avoid direct sunlight. Turn it every day to keep it growing upright.

Or you can make a trip to your local garden center and pick up pots of spring flowers just waiting to open. Group them in a container for a dramatic effect.

Want to Force Spring?

Starting seeds is not complicated or difficult, if you understand the process and have patience…lots of patience…

Growing medium. Seedlings are very delicate. For the best chance of success, start them in a fresh, sterile seed-starting mix that is light and fluffy to hold just enough moisture.

Containers. Anything that will hold the growing medium will work. I have found the starter kits are the easiest. And get a shallow waterproof tray that will hold them.     

Light. Seedlings need lots of light  A very sunny, south-facing window may do for a handful of plants if you are not too far north.

Water. Sow the seeds in moistened mix. Cover the containers to hold in humidity while the seeds germinate. Once they sprout, uncover the containers and water them from the bottom, by pouring water into the tray. Make sure air circulates freely so humidity isn't trapped around plants.

Attention. This is the secret ingredient to successful seed-starting. You'll need to check daily.  

It's possible (not to mention easier) to have a fine vegetable garden by buying young plants but where is the challenge?  

Plant those Seeds…

Where is Spring?

March 2015

Spring and Easter go hand in hand. It’s a great time of year to add color to your home or garden with wreaths. I found some some fun wreath ideas on Pinterest (yes, guilty of electronic hoarding) to celebrate the holiday and season.

Simple hanging door decor would be great for spring and summer. You could use real , dried or silk flowers. Silk flowers are perfect for easy and cost saving wreath making. Simple door decoration can be created with either soft or bright colors. Either combination would be a cheerful welcome to spring

Supplies are basic:

How to is so easy:

Need Spring Wreath Ideas?

Fun Facts of Spring…

1. The first day of spring is called the vernal equinox. What does that stand for you ask? ‘Vernal’ is Latin for spring while ‘equinox’ is Latin for ‘equal night’.

2. Can you really stand a raw egg on its end today? Yes,

but if you are patient enough, you can stand an egg on its end any day.

3. The reason there is more daylight during the spring is the earth’s axis tilts toward the sun at this time of year.

4. Another reason - Daylight Saving Time. The United States begins saving daylight on the second Sunday in March. The practice started in 2005.  Benjamin Franklin first proposed Daylight Saving Time in 1784.

5. Spring fever is not just a saying. Experts say the body’s makeup changes due to different diets, hormone production and temperature.

Happy Spring!

Shamrock or clover

It has been a long cold winter. Spring is not in a rush to arrive this year…at least in Michigan.  The wonderful fact about the season is that it will arrive! The signs have started…birds singing in the morning…potted spring bulbs in your local garden shops…St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner…the days are getting longer and a little warmer, need I say more?

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life (both plant and animal). The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times…and better times it will be after the long cold winter…Sure, snow is still not out of the picture, but let’s put forth a sunny outlook as we celebrate the beginning of spring!

forcing tulips in glass vase
spring planting materials
Pink tulip spring door wreath
Sign of spring crocus growing