Shawnee Gardening Article  for the 15th   Becky Emerson Carlberg No matter   the weather or the calendar, the birds and bees are proclaiming spring is here. Vibrant colors dot the landscape. My peaches and apricots are decorated in pink, those pesky Bradford pears are covered in white, the flowering quince is red, the hyacinths are purple, and [...]

Shawnee Gardening Article  for the 15th  

Yellow Puccoon

Becky Emerson Carlberg

No matter   the weather or the calendar, the birds and bees are proclaiming spring is here. Vibrant colors dot the landscape. My peaches and apricots are decorated in pink, those pesky Bradford pears are covered in white, the flowering quince is red, the hyacinths are purple, and yellow blooms the Japonica and Narrow-leaved Puccoons.   Pick out the one native plant amidst the group.   Yes, it's the one with the weird name.   Will calling it 'Lithospermum incisum' help?   How is your knowledge of Powhatan language?   This tribe of Native Americans lived in eastern Virginia.   Most were killed, forced out or enslaved by the colonists who had sailed over from England in the 1600s.   Despite the obliteration of the native people, their language and many of their words pepper the English we speak today.  You have probably heard of Chinkapin (Chinkapin/Chinquapin oak), hickory, opossum, persimmon, pone (unleavened cornbread), raccoon (the masked bandit that loves to pilfer sunflower seeds by lifting off the lid of the metal can and diving in), tomahawk and puccoon.   In Powhatan, puccoon, or poughkone,   means dye– specifically the deep red dye from the roots.

The Puccoon flowers are brilliant yellow and burst out extremely early in the spring. They can be seen along roads and the high edges of ditches. This cool plant is in the mint family and prefers to live in grasslands and plains where it can, except for the eastern Seaboard (Florida has puccoons) and Idaho, Oregon and the state of Washington.

Blarney Castle

In a few days, St. Patrick's Day will be here. My Blarney Castle is already on the Lazy Susan in the middle of the dining room table.   We brought back plants from my mother's home a few days ago; the tender ones that would not survive without some care and water.   Two clematis vines, one dwarf hydrangea, and one purple shamrock were dug and put into containers.   One shamrock. The shamrocks had flourished for years in the raised bed, but the last two years the shamrocks had gone into steep decline.   Only one bulb with one set of three purple leaves was found.   The fragile, but edible Oxalis triangularis was carefully transported back to my home.   If the sun becomes too intense, I may erect a small sun shade over the little plant.   These false shamrocks like light shade.and each other.   They do not like to share their pots or plots with other plants except for their shamrock relatives.   If it gets too hot, they launch into dormancy and look wilty and tired.   Here is something you can amaze your friends  with.   The leaves exhibit photonasty, or response to light.   They open wide during the bright daylight and close down at night.  The suffix of photonasty"'nasty '"is from Greek and  means being pressed upon.

The shamrock is the emblem of Ireland.   A recent newcomer, the plant came into vogue in the 17th century and gained strong popularity in the 19th century.   Nationalists adopted the shamrock and harp as their symbols, and Victorian England took a dim view of this flagrant Irish pride and banned the display of the shamrock.   Naturally this just fueled the fire and even showed up in the song 'The Wearin' o' the Green:'

'Oh Paddy dear, and did ye hear, the news that's goin' round? The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground.   No more St. Patrick's Day we'll keep; his color can't be seen.   For there's a cruel law agin' the wearin' o' the green.'   Well, leave it to the rebellious Irish.   Today the shamrock shows up in the bride's bouquet and boutonniere of the groom, sports team logos, and quality B&Bs.

La fheile Padraig sona dhuit!

Happy St. Pat's Day, y'all.

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