Talk the talk on St. Paddy's Day
Everybody's Irish on Monday. The three-leafed shamrock, actually a clover (Trifolium dubium), is an Irish Christian symbol of the Holy Trinity, various Web sites say. The diminutive version of the Irish word for clover is "seamarog," pronounced "shamrock." See? You can speak Irish too.
Bells may ring in luck o' the Irish
Speaking of all things Irish, here's one thing that isn't: Bells of Ireland, shown above. This tall green plant with the bell-shaped calyxes — leaves that surround tiny white flowers — is a native of Turkey and Syria. It's the green color that makes people think of Ireland. The plants will grow around here in winter and spring, but they don't like hot tropical summers. They have been cultivated since 1570 and are thought to bring good luck. Well, that's Irish enough!
Gather ye wild Irish wildflowers
My Wild Irish Rose is a song best sung by Irish tenors. It's also the title of a 1947 movie starring Dennis Morgan and Arlene Dahl. "Wild I" is a fortified wine (18 percent alcohol) guaranteed to produce headaches. A Wild Irish Rose is a whisky-based cocktail. It's also the name of plenty of pubs, bed and breakfasts and florists. But there seems to be no generally agreed upon rose that is the wild Irish variety. If it's Irish wildflowers you're after, you'll have to make do with foxglove, ox-eye daisies, red clover, St. John's wort, fuchsia and wild thyme.
Carnations that wear the green
Why not make your own green carnations for Monday? It's easy. Put a few drops of green food coloring into a glass of water (the more food coloring, the darker green your flowers will be). Cut the stems of fresh white carnations about 6 inches below the flower. Stand the flowers in the water and keep them in the refrigerator overnight. By morning, they'll be Irish.
Florida potato crop knows no famine
It wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without mention of potatoes, and we do grow them in Florida. Most russet varieties don't do well here. What we do grow: white-skinned potatoes such as La Chipper and Sebago; Yukon golds; two red-skinned varieties, La Rouge and La Soda; one fast-growing russet, Norkotah; and the unique All Blue, whose flesh and skin are — well, the name says it all. Once you have the potatoes, find out how to use them at tampabay.com/features/food. Click on "Which spud's for you?''
Compiled by Times homes and garden editor Judy Stark