Shamrocks have been symbolic of many things over the years. According to legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion, as in many others. St. Patrick used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
The shamrock became symbolic in other ways as time went on. In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion, and anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. It was this period that spawned the phrase “the wearin’ o’ the green”. Today, the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, when all over the world, everyone is Irish for a day!
St Patrick Legend:
Perhaps the best-known legend of Saint Patrick involves the shamrock, the little plant that has gone on to become famous throughout the world as a symbol of Irish heritage.
After training as a priest and bishop, Patrick arrived in Ireland in 432AD and immediately set about trying to covert the pagan Celts who inhabited the island.
Having previously lived and worked there, he was very probably already aware that the number three held special significance in Celtic tradition (and, indeed, in many pagan beliefs), and he applied this knowledge in a clever way.
He used the shamrock, a three-leaved clover which grows all over the island, to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity ie the theory that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are each separate elements of just one entity. Find out more about the shamrock plant.
Grow your own plants at Home ?
If you’d like to grow your own shamrock, you have a couple of options. You let the widely recognized white clover invade your lawn, or you can grow the Americanized version, Oxalis tetraphylla, the lucky clover. This is the plant you will usually find in gift shops in March.
in the yard:
If you want to pick up a shamrock oxalis, here is what you can do. It can be purchased as a live plant or you can order bulbs, similar to daffodils but not as cold hardy. It can tolerate winter conditions as far north as USDA Zone 7, so it should grow most anywhere in Danville, but remember, we are at the northern end of its range. Danville averages around 500 feet above sea level, where I live is about 1,000 feet in elevation, so I am close to Zone 6 (too cold). But I can grow oxalis in a container and bring it indoors in the fall if I want to.
Oxalis prefers full sun and will easily tolerate partial shade. If it is too hot in the garden, plant it in a spot that is in the morning sun with afternoon shade. The plants will bloom in the early part of summer, rest during the hottest part of summer and then bloom again in the early fall. If you are planting either bulbs or live plants, you will need to wait until all danger of frost has passed. It will take up to four weeks for new foliage to emerge and up to eight weeks for the flowers to start blooming.