As far back as I can remember, my mother’s flower bed had a border of low green plants which always seemed to be full of tiny, bright pink blooms. No matter how her garden changed over the years, those happy pink flowers were a constant presence and seemed to bloom prolifically except in the coldest weather. I don’t remember ever seeing them anywhere except in her garden. I still associate those plants with my mother and her love of gardening. I loved them so much that I took some from her garden and brought them with me when I moved away – and I now have a border of them around my own garden. I was afraid that they would not survive the Pennsylvania winters, so I planted some in pots to keep inside during the winter.
One winter evening, a dinner guest saw the potted plants and said, “Oh! I have always LOVED Shamrock plants!”
Huh? Shamrock plants?
Somehow, I had mixed the legends of leprechauns, pots of gold at the end of rainbows, and lucky four-leaf-clovers – and thought that Shamrocks were actually clover. My mother told me the name of the plants: “Oxalis.” I never heard her call them Shamrock plants. If she had been Irish, perhaps that’s what she would have called them.
So now I know that the plants I love so much are also known as Shamrock plants. Fortunately, they have survived the Pennsylvania winters and are thriving in my garden. Their green leaves start to surface as soon as the snow melts, and they bloom all summer long until the freezing weather returns. Their bright pink is SO bright that it just seems…well…happy. It seems to be a mood elevator – one of nature’s own anti-depressants. They seem to be remarkably resilient, too. One was stomped flat by student house painters a few years ago, and I was sure it was ruined…but it sprouted more leaves and came back to bloom again before the end of the season.
Maybe it was lucky.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.