Gardens of the Cross Timbers: Got your green ready?

Becky Emerson Carlberg
Contributing writer
Blarney Castle with the first daffodils

Tomorrow, Daylight Savings Time returns like a bad penny. Why do we still do this archaic pre-spring ritual? Blame the insane idea on two people. George Hudson, entomologist and astronomer, proposed DST (Daylight Savings Time) in 1895. William Willett, the avid golfer, popped up with it in 1905. Hudson’s insect collecting was cut short during brief spring evenings. Willett hated to stop golfing when the sun went down. Two obsessed individuals.

Worldwide, people took sides on adopting DST. US manufacturers and retailers liked it, but the railroads didn’t. It was used in 1918 because of World War I, but dropped in 1919. DST was again resurrected during World War II, but nothing was standardized until 1966 when a few cities tried it. Clorox and 7-Eleven funded the DST Coalition that promoted the extension of DST in 1987. Two Idaho senators voted for it on the basis more French fries (from Idaho potatoes) were sold during DST. The debate continues. Dairy farmers don’t like it. It causes disruption of circadian rhythm, increased health risks and traffic accidents. It takes weeks for folks to adjust to one hour less sleep in the morning. Hawaii and Arizona do not do DST, but seventy countries change their clocks twice a year. Suck it up on March 14th and muddle your way through the next few days. Remember, DST ends November 7th and you’re rewarded with an extra hour of sleep!

While still in your DST fog, let the excitement build. Wednesday, March 17th is the day we can all claim to be Irish! Funny thing, the first St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t in Ireland, but St. Augustine, Florida. Their patron saint was San Augustin, but another saint was added in1600: San Patricio. Saint Patrick!

Michael Francis, history professor at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, spent two weeks unearthing information about St. Augustine. He dug through ship manifestos, receipts and construction lists. In the early 1500s, the Spanish were sending exploratory groups into Florida looking for gold and other valuable resources. St. Augustine, northernmost Spanish garrison, was founded in 1565 on Timucua land. The native Timucua (tee-moo-kwa) had lived in the area for thousands of years. At the time there were about 150,000 Timucua living in dozens of chiefdoms. By 1595 only 50,000 were alive due to armed conflict and European diseases (75% drop).

March 1601 records show St. Augustine kept a supply of gunpowder for ship artillery as well as for use in festivals. On March 17th the people walked through the streets, carried a picture of St. Patrick, and celebrated with food and drink. The canon fired from the fort. St. Pat was named “the protector” of the city’s maize (corn) fields.

How did St. Pat get to Florida? Credit Richard Arthur.

Richard Arthur was probably born in Limerick, Ireland. He was a soldier who participated in campaigns in Malta, Italy and Flanders. Professor Francis thinks Arthur joined the military to escape the persecution of the Catholics in Ireland. Arthur, now known as Ricardo Artur, became a priest and chaplain at San Juan, Puerto Rico. Artur came to St. Augustine in 1597.

Blarney Castle amongst the crocuses

Another Irishman was in St. Augustine at the same time. Darby Glavin had worked as a merchant marine before being captured by the British. He was sent to help colonize the ill-fated Roanoke in Virginia, returned to England after a year and a half, and was ordered back to Roanoke with 150 other colonists by Queen Elizabeth. When the two English boats stopped in Puerto Rico for water, Glavin escaped.

Glavin served prison time on Spanish galleons, multi-decked sailing ships which functioned as armed cargo carriers. He was a free man by 1597, called David Glavid. And living in St. Augustine along with lots of Spanish, a French surgeon, a German fifer and trumpeter, several Flemish, over thirty Portuguese and at least forty royal slaves who worked the fields, repaired buildings and worked in stone quarries. Professor Francis likes to imagine “these two, lone Irishmen celebrating this venerable Irish saint around a bunch of other Spaniards, Portuguese, Native Americans and people of African descent. This whole community celebrating Saint Patrick!” Not unlike St. Patrick’s Day today in the USA.

The Florida Irish Heritage Center states the first documented public school in America was in St. Augustine. Paid for by the Spanish Crown and open to all races, this school was under the supervision of Padre Ricardo Artur. Records show St. Patrick’s Day festivities ended after the Padre died in 1606.

Saint Patrick was the grandson of a priest at a time priests could marry. His influence in Ireland was seen in churches, monasteries and schools. St. Patrick was born about 386 CE and died March 17th 461. In 1631 the Catholics commemorated Saint Patrick by recognizing his feast day on March 17th. It has been a religious holiday for hundreds of years in Ireland. Irish immigrants in the US took it up a notch with St. Patrick parties and parades. Due to the coronavirus, most large parades are still on hold, but there will be some local celebrations. No Timucua are alive to toast St. Patricks’ Day. The tribe is considered extinct.

Luck of the Irish Shamrocks

Shamrock comes from Irish seamair og (SHAM ur ohg) and means young clover. It is said St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Christian Holy Trinity (God in three divine persons). The number three was very significant in the Celtic world and had mythical associations. Even today Ireland has three patron saints: St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Columba. Some say the leaves of a shamrock represent the regenerative powers of nature. Feeling lucky? What about the four-leaf clover? Those leaves stand for faith, hope, love and happiness. That clover has roots extending back thousands of years to the Druids—the educated teachers, priests and judges among the ancient Celts. The word Druid means “knower of the oak tree.” Traditions rooted in nature.

“Never iron a four-leaf clover. You don’t want to press your luck.”

Erin Go Bragh!

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at