Four-leaf clovers – More than a lucky Irish symbol

You don’t have to be Irish to know a four-leaf clover is a universal symbol of good luck. This accepted belief is as old as the hills.

A description from 1869 states “four-leaf clovers were gathered at night-time during the full moon by sorceresses, who mixed it with other ingredients, while young girls in search of a token of perfect happiness made quest of the plant by day”

Druids held four-leaf clovers in high esteem. They too considered them a sign of good luck.  As much as I love to read about, and devour any information on these mystical figures, I do take some of it with a grain of salt.

The sad reality is, we just don’t know much about Druids. Except for information written by the likes of Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and Strabo, who as Roman conquerors, and Druids being their enemy, any account from them is likely to be biased.

There are however, many Irish myths and legends pertaining to Druids which may hold historic value and even factual events. But I digress…

Irish folklore tells us finding a clover with four leaves will bring you good luck, however finding a stem with five leaves or more will not bring you more luck.

I’d have to disagree with that. The odds would have to be pretty high for someone to find one, so I’d consider it even more fortunate, indeed!

Each of the four leaves has its own representation, though this varies depending on who you speak with about it. Generally, the most popular meanings are:

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Luck

By the same token, a clover with three leaves has symbolism, too. According to Pliny, it’s connected to the Holy Trinity. In addition, clover was used to make a salve against snake bites, since snakes represented Original Sin, and encouraged by that dastardly serpent in the Garden of Eden. Here, each leaf represents a good deed. In this case:

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Charity

The most widely cultivated clovers are white clover, Trifolium repens, and red clover, Trifolium pratense.

Clover shoots up easily, even after repeated mowing. It produces nutritious crop for livestock and fixes nitrogen in the soil, which reduces the need for synthetic fertilizer. It grows in all kinds of climates, and it’s a great addition to your compost bin.

Last but not least, it’s one of the earliest plants to produce flowers, making it an important source of nectar for our pollinators, especially bees.

Of interest to floral historians, the Four-Leaf Clover in floral language means – ‘Be Mine’.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover. I pressed it between the pages of a book, and since then its sat, on one of the bookshelves in my house. Now that I’m writing this post, I’ll have to search for it.

I figure it doesn’t matter if you find the same one twice! When it turns up, it will still be a lucky find.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. Make sure to wear something green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 


Sources:

  • Rutherford, Ward (1978). The Druids and their Heritage. London: Gordon & Cremonesi.
  • Celtic Studies Resources: Did the Celts or Druids Perform Human Sacrifice?
  • Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia. c.78 CE.
  • Tacitus. Annales. Second century CE.
  • Masters MT. 1869. Vegetable Teratology, An Account of the Principal Deviations from the Usual Construction of Plants. Robert Hardwicke Publisher, London, P 356.
  • Mark Kinver, Science and environment reporter, BBC News – Science/Environment – Bumbles make beeline for gardens, study suggests
  • The bouquet – A Poetic Treasury of Flowers, Their Classics and Vocabulary, (pg. 13) by Walser, G. H. (George Henry), 1834-1910
  • Cyclopedia of practical floriculture by Turner, Cordelia Harris – Publication date 1884
  • The images are royalty-free. Use and share as you like.

Vermicomposting – Let worms do the dirty work!

When it comes to vermicomposting, earthworms will do the ‘dirty’ work for you.

Most people know worms turn waste into beautiful compost outdoors, but this can be done indoors, too. It’s an easy way to compost much of your kitchen waste.

Worm castings, the black gold by-product resulting from vermicomposting, contains 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium than ordinary soil; some of the main minerals a healthy growing plant requires.

Castings are also rich in humic acids. This soil conditioner offers a perfect pH balance. It contains plant growth factors similar to seaweed. What could be better for your garden?

Here in Canada, snow covers outdoor composters and gardens for several months at a time. It might seem easier to take compostable kitchen scraps to land fill. However, for a small investment, vermicomposting can reap benefits far and above the 40 bucks initially spent, and it can be done year round, right in your kitchen!

Here’s how:

  • Purchase 2 plastic storage tote bins from the hardware store.
  • Drill ¼-inch holes in the bottom, sides and top of the box, not just for drainage but for aeration. You don’t want to smother the worms. The box should be approximately 1 square foot of surface area for each person in the household. – e.g.: A 2′ x 2′ x 2′ box can take the food waste of four people.
  • Bedding materials can include shredded newspaper, corrugated cardboard, peat moss, and partially decomposed leaves.
  • Worm boxes should be filled with bedding to provide the worms with a mixed diet, as well as a damp and aerated place to live.
  • Tear newspaper or cardboard into strips before first. Bedding material should be moistened by in water for several minutes. Squeeze out excess water before adding it to your worm box.
  • Cover food waste with a few inches of bedding so flies won’t become a problem.
  • Make sure the worm box doesn’t get too wet.  Worms will not survive and fruit flies will appear. That’s when it will smell. -> Troubleshooting worm bins
  • Red wigglers are considered the best worm to use for vermicomposting. They thrive on organic material such as yard waste and fruit and vegetable scraps.

Do feed them:

  • Coffee grounds or filters
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Small plant material
  • Tea leaves with bags

Do NOT feed them:

  • Bones
  • Milk and Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Greasy foods
  • Meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Pet/cat litter
  • Vegetable oil/salad dressing

To Harvest castings, feed one end of the box for about a week. The worms will find their way to that side to feed. Remove two-thirds of the worm castings from the opposite end and apply fresh bedding. Start burying food waste in the new bedding, and the worms will move back. The cycle continues!

Tip: Save the casting in a bag to spread on the garden, and top dress some of your indoor plants. They’ll love you for it.

Here are more great links to get you started… Have fun! : )

Forest Bathing – Mindful Meandering in Nature

Have you heard of ‘Forest Bathing’?

Forest bathing is a holistic practice focusing on our ecological health. It aligns with our fundamental need as sentient beings to interact with nature.

While studying the benefits of Biophilic design a few years ago, along with vertical gardens and terrariums, I discovered this delightful concept.

Forest bathing is an activity that can reduce anxiety, depression, and boost the immune system.

It doesn’t matter whether this is done during a ten minute break at work, or when a whole day is spent roaming through a provincial park. The simple act of observing nature offers positive mental and physical benefits to our wellbeing.

Being fortunate as I am, residing in a place surrounded by forests, my experience with this concept is not unlike that of a sponge – best served soaking up all of the goodness nature offers for free.

Originating in Japan during the 1980’s, and known there as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, the translation means either, “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Already cornerstone of preventive health care in Japanese medicine, it’s becoming known to health practitioners here in North America, too. They are beginning to see the practical use of forest bathing as a prescription for healing, helping patients by connecting them back to nature.

Akin to the practices of horticultural, animal, and art therapies, forest bathing is a sensory-based activity. In partnership with mindfulness and a green-space, it’s a tool to help us connect with the natural world. By slowing down even just for a while, we focus our attention on the beauty around us.

If only temporarily, forest bathing removes the daily distractions and stress caused by our manufactured schedules and hectic lives. Studies have shown that the aroma from certain trees in a forest has healing powers.

Forest therapy has a lasting effect on our wellbeing, lingering long after that walk in the woods.

Usually, a session entails a quiet, slow-paced walk. A group of people mindfully meander, immersed in the forest, engaging with nature, using all five of their senses.

This tempered walk is not the same as hiking. The goal is not about breaking a sweat, or hurriedly trudging on towards a specific destination.

Besides, who knows what one might come across whilst contemplating the trees and the forest? 🙂

In conclusion, I’m currently immersed in learning how to be a forest guide. I’ll be offering a forest bathing session in Haliburton Ontario this spring.

Check back here mid-March for a direct link to sign up to my forest walk workshop on EventBrite. Thank you!

 

More links about forest bathing:

Questions? Please feel free to get in touch through the contact form below. Thank you!