Connecticut Garden Journal: Shamrocks may be lucky, but consider these classic Irish plants for St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick's Day is here. This Irish celebration often features parades, green hats and clothes and lots of green beer. Irish plants are also highlighted, beyond the green-dyed carnations. So, consider a gift of an Irish plant for a loved one.
Say St. Patrick's Day plants, and everyone thinks of the shamrock. But the symbolic shamrock is most likely a European native clover (Trifolium repens). If you can find a 4 leafed version you're a lucky person because the odds are 1 in 10,000. The shamrock you see in stores is actually a common wood sorrel or oxalis.
Bells of Ireland is another classic Irish plant but it's native to North Africa. This self sowing annual features 2- to 3-feet tall flower spikes with white, fragrant flowers and a green calyx in early summer and makes a great cut flower.
For truly native Irish plants try Irish moss and Fairy Thimbles. Irish moss loves cool, shady locations for it to spread and cover rocks and the soil between stone pathways. The vibrant green color shines this time of year but it needs very well-drained soil. Fairy Thimbles are commonly known as foxgloves. The true species (Digitalis purpurea) flowers the second year after planting with colorful flower stalks.
Finally, if you want to get a big dose of Irish flowers join me on my Garden Tour of Ireland from June 2nd to 11th 2023. We'll be visiting large botanical gardens, small private gardens and lots of wild landscapes. Check out my website for more information.