Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wee Folk



How lucky is it to see a rainbow on St. Patrick's Day?
Viewed this morning from our property!

Well, the much promised and forecasted storm has made its big appearance and did not fail to impress. As I sit here typing this, rain is slashing against the windows and the wind chimes are hysterically playing some windy frenetic beat. Homemade chicken noodle soup lazily bubbling in a big pot on the stove. A roaring fire is keeping us nice and toasty and all the animals are safe inside and warm.

Had some damage already, with big tree limbs down and I'm not sure what else. We'll have to wait and see after the storm subsides. Meanwhile, I'll just be grateful that all my plants are getting a really deep,healthy drink!
Being of Irish descent, I couldn't let the opportunity pass on this St. Patrick's Day to talk about the wee folk. Personally, I think gnomes are evil, but that's just my view. Being Irish, I believe in leprechauns, but don't know much about these mischief-makers, other than I know not to pi** them off! My paternal great-grandfather was born in Ireland, and my grandfather used to warn me about the wee folk and how they were always watchin' to make sure you were doin' good.

Here's a famous poem, written by Ireland's own William Allingham (1824-1889)

The Leprechaun
Little Cowboy, what have you heard
Up on the lonely rath's green mound?
Only the plaintive yellow bird
Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee!--
Only the grasshopper and the bee?--
"Tip-tap, rip-rap,
Scarlet leather, sewn together,
This will make a shoe.
Left, right, pull it tight"
Summer days are warm;
Underground in winter,
Laughing at the storm!
Lay your ear close to the hill
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?
He's a span
And a quarter in height.
Get him in sight, hold him tight
And you're a made

You watch your cattle the summer day
Sup on potatoes. sleep in the hay;
How would you like to roll in your carriage
Look for a duchess's daughter in marriage?
Seize the Shoemaker-then you may!
"Big boots a-hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
white for a wedding feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we make a shoe
Getting rich every stitch
Nine-and-ninety treasure-crocks
This keen miser-fairy hath,
Hid in mountains, woods and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow'r, cave and rath,
And where the cormorants build;
From  times of old
Guarded by him;
Each of them fill'd
Full to the brim
With gold!

I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle-ditch, where foxglove grows,--
A wrinkled, wizen'd and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
"Rip-rap, tip-tap.
( A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince
Brogues for his son,--
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done!"
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt
I stared at him, he stared at me;
"Servant, Sir!" "Humph!" says he,
And pull'd a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look'd better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer'd the box with whimsical grace,-
Pouf! he flung the dust in my face,\
And while I sneezed,
Was gone!

Now that you have pictured in your mind what your dream garden would look like, it's time to take steps to achieve your vision.

Break it down into the zones we talked about yesterday. Work on one zone at a time. For example, you would like a beautiful flower area. Next, ask yourself, do you want flowers that will work as cutting flowers so you can have bouquets in the house? Or do you wish to have a scented flower area, where it smells heavenly when you walk by? Maybe you want massive color? Or, still another option, maybe a combination of all?

Narrow down your goal and then choose your plants. Remember that you should research each plant to know what will work best for them. For example, if your garden area zone will be pretty colors, and you choose an area that is shady, you may have to work a little harder to find the right flowers that will bloom in shade. Most flowers like sun, although some like part shade and part sun.

It is helpful to look through garden seed catalogs and then look up the plant and learn about it. This prior planning will not only save you money in the long run, but also aid in lessening the disappointment of a plant not thriving once you get it home and planted. Plus, it is SO hard when you walk into a garden center and see all the beautiful plants and want them all! I tell myself firmly, "This plant will not be happy at my house." One thing we learned the hard way is that garden centers, especially the chain ones, will sell plants in areas that will not support those plants. They have a central buyer who  buys in bulk and they do not match plants to the areas.

A good rule of thumb to remember, especially if you live in areas like ours that do get frost and snow, is that succulents, or anything that holds water inside, will freeze. Iceplant, cacti, and some ground covers fall into this category as well.

One year when we first moved here thirty years ago, my MIL gave us some stapelia. It is a cute succulent that looks like little Chinese pagodas. I got inspired and built a small Chinese garden at the entry to our property and rimmed it with the stapelia. I put some stone pagodas and rocks as well. People walking by were stopping and commenting  on how pretty it was. UNTIL, the next morning, after a hard frost, I went out to get the newspaper and to my horror, found the garden ruined with all the stapelia turned into black oatmeal mush! It was a lesson learned and remembered. I still have lots of succulents, but they live happily in the greenhouse.
Tomorrow, more on choosing the right plants!
Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
Regular rocks are too heavy

Why can't you borrow money from a leprechaun?
Because they're always a little short!

How can you tell an Irishman is having a good time?
He's Dublin over with laughter!

Why did St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland?
He couldn't afford plane fare.

What's Irish and stays out all night?
Paddy O'Furniture!

             Ever feel like you're being watched?

Answer to yesterday's puzzle: plant

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