Shamrock Tree

Discussion in 'Hobbies & Critters' started by John M, Sep 9, 2015.

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  1. Sep 9, 2015 #1

    John M

    John M

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    This plant is an old family heirloom. My Great Grandmother, Catherine Charleton went to Ireland in 1886 and she brought this plant home to England with her. She grew it all her life and when she died, it went to one of her daughters (my Great Aunt Isabel). When Aunt Isabel became a Nun, it was givven to her sister, Hilda. When Hilda died, now ex-Nun Isabel re-inherited it. When Isabel's health was ailing, my Grandmother (Gladys) and her daughter, Elizabeth (my Mother's sister and my Aunt), went to care for Isabel and eventually attend to her estate. At that time (1980-something), I requested that the plant be brought to Canada, to keep it in the family. My Aunt (Elizabeth), took the plant to the British ag department to be inspected and tested and get the proper export documents. My Aunt made arrangements with some cousins to send it on to me once the British ag deptartment was through with it. A few weeks later, I finally got 4 roots in the mail one freezing cold November day; but luckily, it did survive.

    It has been through a lot with me as I've cared for it properly at times and neglected it at other times when I was sick. I had numerous, sorry looking pots of it this year. So, I spent a couple very pleasant days last spring, sitting outside under a tree, unpotting it and cleaning all the weed roots out. I also washed and divided the Shamrock roots in preparation for replanting. They were air dried and allowed to heal their wounds for a few days.

    A bunch of them went into two very large, shallow pot saucers into which I drilled drainage holes. These saucers were mounted on round platforms that I bolted to the top of a piece of Lilac branch, which itself had been bolted to the bottom of the square cedar planter you see in the photos.

    At first it looked odd because there was no green above the soil in the saucers. But, this plant grows fast in the heat and in no time, as I knew it would, it overflowed the sides and hid the saucers.....looking very much like a beautiful, flowering tree in the tub at my back door. It will bloom right through October and it will stay outside, remaining healthy and green right up until December. I've left pots of this plant outside so late in the past that when I brought them in, I had to dig them out from under 10" of snow! I have also tried planting some spare roots outside and leaving them for the whole winter; but, that didn't work. It must be hardy down to only about minus 10*C or so and it gets down into the minus 20's, or even sometimes, minus 30's here.

    As long as there is enough light, it never stops blooming. As long as it's fed and watered, it always has lush, full foliage. It's a really lovely plant and having been part of the family for 129 years, it's a very special plant to have and enjoy.

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    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  2. Sep 9, 2015 #2

    Wendy

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    That is so cool! You've always done well with the Shamrock. I've heard the history on it but enjoyed reading it again.
     
  3. Sep 10, 2015 #3

    SlipperFan

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    I've never heard of this before -- very cool!
     
  4. Sep 10, 2015 #4

    abax

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    Beautiful plant and a familiar story for me. I have an
    unidentified Begonia species that has been handed down
    for at least 100 years and I suspect longer. It's not quite
    so beautiful as your Shamrock, but it means a lot to me.

    *uh oh, I see Charlie's piggy in the yard*
     
  5. Sep 10, 2015 #5

    Lanmark

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    Amazing and wonderful!
     
  6. Sep 10, 2015 #6

    John M

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    Thanks everyone! I sure am pleased with the way it turned out this year. I think next year I'll underplant it with Portulaca in the tub. The mix of 2 colours of Salvia, 2 colours of Verbina and 3 colours of Million Bells is a bit too busy and untidy looking for my taste. I think the tub would look better with a much more tidy, low-growing plant with flowers all the same colour. Yellow goes very well with pink in the garden; so, I'll probably plant the tub with yellow Portulaca next year.

    LOL, Angela. Yes, that's Charlie's beloved Piggy! You've got sharp eyes!
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  7. Sep 10, 2015 #7

    Secundino

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    Oh wow! I'd wish there would be a similar story to tell in my family ... but I am the first gardener so far. And I like the Salvia a lot!
     
  8. Sep 10, 2015 #8

    NYEric

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    Very cool story. Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. Sep 10, 2015 #9

    Erythrone

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    Nice !!!
     
  10. Sep 10, 2015 #10

    troy

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    Nice plant!! Nice story!!! Thanks for sharing
     
  11. Sep 11, 2015 #11

    Kostas

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    Nice! This is a first class weed here :D
     
  12. Sep 11, 2015 #12

    eaborne

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    Wonderful story!
     
  13. Sep 11, 2015 #13
    May it last for another 129 years. Great looking plant, blooms are excellent too.
     
  14. Sep 12, 2015 #14

    cnycharles

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    That is very cool! Who will you share it with next?
     
  15. Sep 12, 2015 #15

    John M

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    A number of family members have pieces of this plant already. Plus, it responds so well to repotting and root dividing that I expect to have extra to sell in a year or two.
     
  16. Sep 12, 2015 #16

    Secundino

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    Do you know which species of Oxalis it actually is? Some of them are real annoying weeds...in the wrong place. (OK, just found in 'Wildflowers of Ireland' it could be O. articulata, from South America originally.) So nice Oxalis are, even as weeds, ...
     
  17. Sep 12, 2015 #17

    John M

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    No, I don't know the species identity. But, this one is not an invasive species. In all the years I've had it, it has never produced any seeds, ever. Right now, when the sun is shining and the flowers are open, it attracts the Bees like crazy. There are some Honey Bees; but, it always has Bumble Bees in amongst the flowers; but as I said, it has never produced any seeds. So, for me at least, propagation has strictly been by division, which of course, is quite limiting for a plant in terms of spreading uncontrollably and becoming a nuisance.

    Perhaps it's self-sterile and crossing it with another clone of the same species would have some success. I've never tried that.....but, I'd have to find a piece of another clone of the same species first. I remember seeing a pot of this same species in my local library about 35 years ago; but, I didn't think to ask for a small root, or even just some pollen at the time. I've got 5 other types of ornamental Oxalis and none of them have ever produced seeds either.

    Then of course, I do have that dreaded Oxalis that gets into our orchids. It's actually attractive too; but, such a pain when it gets into an orchid collection!
     
  18. Sep 12, 2015 #18

    John M

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    Thanks for that extra info and a name possibility. Using the name Oxalis articulata, I did some Googling and found numerous websites with photos that look the same as my plant. It's very interesting that it originates in South America! Many years ago, before my Grandmother passed away, I sat down with her and got her to recall all the nitty gritty details of this plant as it moved from person to person in the English branch of my family. As she told it, the story started with her mother, my Great Grandmother, "collecting" this plant while on a trip to Ireland, back in 1886. I was always skeptical that my Great Grandmother actually went out digging in the wilds of Ireland. I figured that was an embellishment my Grandmother added on because of course, in her mind, "Shamrocks" come from Ireland; therefore, the "family Shamrock" must have been a wild-growing plant that was literally dug up by her mother. I figured that it was likely a division given to her and which came out of a pot that someone had growing on a windowsill, or in a flower box.

    So, if my plant is the species articulata, that means my plant was originally brought to Ireland as an ornamental plant. I did find a website that described this species as one of the earliest species of Oxalis to be brought into cultivation and sold commercially.

    Wouldn't it be cool to know the history of my plant prior to 1886, when my Great Grand Mother first got it? Of course, that's impossible to know now. As I said, I do know quite a bit about it since 1886. In fact, I know more details about this plant's life than most people know about the human members of their family! That in itself is kind of cool. It's this provenance that makes it very special to me, as well as it's beauty and ease of cultivation.
     
  19. Sep 12, 2015 #19

    Clark

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    Best story I have heard in long time.
    Changed my view of Oxalis, somewhat.
     
  20. Sep 12, 2015 #20

    Secundino

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    Then you have seen this too, I believe: http://bsbi.org/maps/?taxonid=2cd4p9h.5fg within the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, the distribution through time of O. articulata. Arrived about 1870!!

    And I think it does propagate mainly by parts of their rhizome, as does O. pes-caprae through their little bulbilles. Everywhere... but wonderful when in flower!
     

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