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Feeling lucky? Try this charmer

The St. Patrick's Day rose blooms yellow but has a green tint to
its bud (still apparent in bottom rose). Photo: Debbie Arrington
St. Patrick's Day thoughts for gardeners

How do you keep Irish eyes smiling? Or any eyes for that matter?

During this very weird St. Patrick’s Day, it’s been difficult to focus, little alone grin. Traditions – such as St. Patrick’s Day – help keep us centered, positive and moving forward. So does gardening.

So, as most of us hunker down in some form of self-quarantine, here are some upbeat thoughts for St. Patrick’s Day:

Rose with a green streak

Start with the St. Patrick’s Day rose. Mine is not yet in bloom, but the buds are forming and the flowers will be open soon. A hybrid tea, this unusual rose looks green in bud form (hence its Irish name). During the hottest days of summer, the greener the buds. They open into big butter-yellow blooms.

Introduced in 1996 by Weeks Roses, St. Patrick’s Day won the All-America Rose Selection award. It’s a cross of two very good yellow roses: Brandy and Gold Medal.

(Fun fact: Marilyn Monroe, a buff-colored hybrid tea, was developed by crossing St. Patrick’s Day with the orange blend Sunset Celebration. Like St. Patrick’s Day, Marilyn Monroe sometimes has a green tint.)

An almost shamrock

Those aren’t weeds; they’re (almost) shamrocks! Blooming all over Sacramento (and beyond) this St. Patrick’s Day is a familiar yellow flower with leaves that look like shamrocks. It’s the Bermuda Buttercup, an oxalis native to South Africa. Also known as wood sorrel or sourgrass, this may rank as Sacramento’s most charming invasive plant.

Feeling lucky?

Four-leaf clovers are a natural mutation of common three-leaf clovers. The rule of thumb is that one four-leaf clover occurs for every 10,000 three-leafed clovers. But researchers found that four-leaf clovers are actually twice as common. Researchers looked at 5 million clover leaves and found about 1,000 four-leafed examples, meaning that the rate is closer to 5,000 to 1. Still a long shot, but finding a four-leaf clover is twice as “easy” as believed.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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