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Gardeners' Dirt: Leprechaun gardens celebrate St. Patrick's Day year-round

By By Linda Lees - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
March 6, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 5, 2014 at 9:06 p.m.

An upside-down plastic hanging basket with corn husk walls and roof is the focal point for a wheelbarrow garden designed by Linda Wolff.  Featured plants include Louisiana iris in the background with tiny-leafed thyme as ground cover.

What a Shamrock Isn't

The Irish shamrock and South Texas burr clover are not related.

•  In the U.S., the shamrock is of the Oxalyis genus.

•  South Texas burr clover is the Medicago polymorpha.

Source: Dr. Gerald R. Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife

Research and Extension Center in Overton

Plant Suggestions for Mini-Gardens

Currently available at area garden centers:

•  Blue lobelia

•  Cacti

•  Dwarf mondo grass

•  Fig ivy

•  Lime thyme

•  Mother of thyme

•  Oregano

•  Chocolate mint

•  Orange mint

•  Phlox

•  Prostrate rosemary

•  Sedum

•  White alyssum

Lunch and Learn with the Masters

• WHEN: Noon-1 p.m. Monday

• WHERE: Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

• COST: Free to the public

• Bring your lunch and drink

• "Gardening 101" presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Gerald Bludau

The trouble with leprechauns is simple. They're trouble. My acquaintance with these Irish mischief makers started some time ago when I was enthralled by the fairy garden of my friend, Linda Wolff.

Linda had been given a wheelbarrow from an archeological dig and decided to use it as a mini-garden container. Once I saw this masterpiece, I had to have one. I came up with the insane idea of a leprechaun theme. That meant getting to know these creatures, but leprechauns are so secretive that facts about them are sketchy.

Leprechaun 101

Almost every thing I know about leprechauns comes from the writings of Irish poet William B. Yeats. Leprechauns wear buckled footwear, green suits and magical red caps. Since fairies wear their shoes out dancing, these elfin cobblers are wealthy.

They prefer living underground. They're devious and full of Irish blarney. They love their pots, gold, horses and fiddles. If you capture one, you can force him to give you his gold; only don't blink or he'll vanish.

Another hurdle was my difficulty with idea development. I randomly pooled together what I already had: a plaster rabbit's head, a tiny unicorn, an aquarium's treasure chest, horseshoes, faux coins and stick-on shamrocks. I searched local craft departments.

Because of prolonged frigid weather, finding plants was another challenge. I did a little plant rustling in my yard and haunted local nurseries.

A leprechaun takes over the wheelbarrow

Thankfully, Linda volunteered to redesign her garden. She created a leprechaun hut by cutting a door and window into an upside down, plastic, dome-shaped hanging pot and glued corn husks onto the exterior. She also braided the husks for the roof to give the appearance of thatch.

She placed a circular dish filled with green beads and coins atop the roof. She placed a leprechaun figurine near the cottage. Her garden features Louisiana iris in the background, tiny leafed "Minus" thyme for ground cover and a spiral walkway.

Garden in a shoe box

A plastic shoe box inspired me for my first attempt. Usually shoe boxes are used as leprechaun traps. They can also make interesting containers. The box top can be used as a saucer.

I carefully drilled several holes into the bottom of a box, filled it with a layer of pea gravel topped by a layer of potting soil. I planted sedum, chicks and hens, and variegated ivy. I added a miniature arbor, leprechaun, coins and rocks. Ribbon featuring a shamrock motif was hot glued to the box rim.

A home fit for a leprechaun

My second garden was frustrating to complete.

Prolonged bad weather dampened any thoughts of working outside. When a sunny afternoon presented itself, I cleared a spot by our back porch door.

Using pavers, large rocks and pebbles I had on hand, I constructed a contained area measuring 18-by 28-inches and filled it with potting soil. Burr clover, ivy, oregano and thyme were planted on top to serve as a rustic roof for the below-ground dwelling.

I painted a window, and glued a door and rock pebbles to a 7-by-12-inch board. The board was attached to a paver at the front of the mound.

A half paver became the entry stoop, and the rabbit's head, footbridge and treasure chest were added to the foreground. Plantings included purple shamrock, creeping phlox, lavender and orange mint.

Fun for children of all ages

These projects can be enjoyable for young and old, but do require attention to plant care, pruning, and appearance as do all gardens. Part of their magic is they put imaginations into overdrive.

Linda is considering the addition of a solar light feature, and I'm wondering how to add color reflections with glass prisms. Evidently, when you're dealing with leprechauns, the fun never ends.

Use these ideas and more to create your own leprechaun garden for St. Patrick's Day. Give a gift of the Irish on March 17.


The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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