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‘Judas Tree’ – Part Of Christian Folklore

Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’.

One of the many rare and beautiful trees currently on sale at Seamus O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, situated on the Mill Road, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, must surely be the Cercis canadensis ‘Caroline Sweetheart’, also called the Judas Tree or Flowering Judas Eastern Redbud.

With the name ‘Judas Tree’ comes a legend behind its name, going back to earlier Christian folklore. This myth / folklore hereunder surrounds all such Redbud varieties in the same Genus, found in various parts of the Middle East including Judea.

Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’.

Christian Folklore

The legend states that originally all such trees were not just tall and stately, but also bore broad, strong branches displaying white flowers. In exchange for thirty pieces of silver; one of the 12 disciples, all followers of Jesus, named Judas Iscariot, from the town of Kerioth in south Judea, would eventually betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was simply done by kissing Jesus and addressing him as “Rabbi”; thus revealing his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. Judas, on learning later that Jesus was to be crucified, in his shame, hanged himself from supposedly a Redbud tree. The tree itself became so ashamed of the role it had played; vowed that forever more it would not grow its branches strong enough to be used for a hanging. Its wood from then on would remain brittle and its pure white flowers would blush pink, demonstrating visual embarrassment. Thus, the alternate name for Redbud trees became “Judas Trees”; the tree Judas chose for his eventual death.

However, possibly the real truth is that Redbud trees grew throughout Judea and were simply called “Judea’s Trees”, which over time and through word of mouth, verbal accents etc, today have become known as “Judas Trees”.

Just presently shedding its ‘blushing, snapdragon like blossoms’; Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’, is much sought after in landscaping, especially since its flowers are somewhat unusual, in that they grow from the trunk of the tree, a trait often observed on tropical tree species, and known as “Cauliflory”. For our readers not familiar with the terminology “Cauliflory”, same is a botanical idiom which refers to plants that flower and fruit from their main stems or woody trunks, rather than from new growth; thus aiding pollination from not just flying insects, but also from animals rubbing and climbing.

With flowering complete; typical heart shaped maroon leaves [dark reddish purple or dark brownish red colour taking its name from the French word ‘marron’, or chestnut] will emerge, before becoming green with white margins bearing delightful shades of pink red and purple.

Overall, Cercis canadensis ‘Caroline Sweetheart’, is best described as ‘sheer candy’ to the eyes of any beholder.


Corsican Hellebore – Winter Rose

Helleborus argutifolius

Are you looking for a garden plant that offers summer colour to a rather grim looking Irish winter landscape?  Then what you need to plant are one or more of some 20 species of Helleboreae.

One such species of Hellebore is the Christmas Rose, (also known as Helleborus argutifolius or Helleborus corsicus) a holly-leaved Hellebore species of flowering plant, in the family Ranunculaceae; same native to Corsica and Sardinia. It is an evergreen perennial growing to an approximate height of 120 cm (47 in) by 90 cm (3 ft) wide, with large leathery dark grey-green leaves, each comprising of three spiny-toothed leaflets.

The blossoms, from this delightful, compact, heavy and handsome plant, come in the shape of green, bowl-shaped clusters, with the flower heads appearing to the viewer like a tightly grasped posy. The flowering heavily scented, flower heads appear in early December, thus giving it the obvious, well-chosen and common name of ‘Winter Rose’, with the delightful, apple-green coloured pendant cups; like wild rose blossoms,  surviving through winter and continuing to bloom well into late spring.

Once fully established, like all hellebores, they dislike being shunted about, so resist the temptation to divided them. However, given the right conditions, they will self-seed sufficiently to provide replacement plants. These seedlings, which should appear immediately at the base of the plant, can then be easily moved and planted successfully elsewhere, rarely blooming in their first year of planting.

This slow growing, deer and rabbit resistant plant, enjoys moist alkaline, acid or sandy soil, in light or mild shade, and is easily pruned back.  Like many of our common garden plants however, it should be noted that Helleborus argutifolius is poisonous.

[Note: Heliotrope plants symbolises eternal or undying love and so make for a most desirable gift to someone you love.]

(Several varieties of potted Hellebore are available and in bloom right now from O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.)Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Mild Weather Advances Growth Of Tipperary Daffodil Crop.

“Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty”

Quote from William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (Act 4, scene 3, line 118)

Daffodil Blooms Well Advanced In Tipperary

Daffodils bulbs planted last autumn usually come into bloom in late winter and early spring.  Daffodils are usually regarded as a ‘March Flower’, synonymous with spring, but note that season is not officially due until Wednesday, March 20th 2019, at 3:59am GMT.

However this year, possibly, because of our mild weather during November / December, here in Co. Tipperary, this hardy perennial bulb, growth-wise, is well advanced out of doors.  Even with heavy frost and colder weather promised next week, you can expect bright yellow and white daffodil blooms, of most varieties, to be adorning sheltered gardens, later this very month.

“Daffodowndilly.” – Poem by A. A. Milne.

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, she wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind and curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour: “Winter is dead.”


Daffodil flowers themselves make for great cut flowers for the indoors, however personally to use a quote from George B. Shaw, “I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads off and keep them in bowls of water around the house.”  I much prefer to observe Daffodils growing in a wooded garden or living wild and discarded by the hundreds, in a low-density forest forming an open habitat while displaying plenty of sunlight.

In truth, what we here in Tipperary, and indeed nationally, call ‘daffodils’, same should be more aptly called ‘narcissus’, when referring to our larger yellow variety; while the smaller, paler versions should be more correctly referred to as ‘jonquils’.  But in fact they all belong to the genus ‘narcissus’.

Also known as the “Lent Lily”; for the most part same should be on the decline when Lent, that annual period of Christian observance that precedes Easter, eventually comes around this year. [Note: Lent in 2019 will start on March 6th, some 61 days hence, from today].

Daffodils gain their name from the Greek god Narcissus. Fable and folklore inform us that Narcissus was so enamoured with his own reflection in water, that he drowned himself in his efforts to capture his own reflection. Daffodils growing along the banks of rivers supposedly became associated with this mythical Greek god Narcissus, taking on his name, probably due to their reflected beauty seen in running water.

Poisonous to humans and animals to the secret delight of flower lovers and growers, yet used in the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics; daffodils are observed as symbolic of:- Vitality; Rebirth; Forgiveness; Regard; Creativity; Inspiration and Renewal.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Duilleoga Deasa, Deasa – Thurles, Co. Tipperary

“Duilleoga deasa, deasa, duilleoga deasa, buí.
Duilleoga deasa, deasa, ar thalamh ina luí”.

[Irish language Translation:- “Nice, nice leaves, nice yellow leaves.  Nice, nice leaves on the ground, lying”.]

The town of Thurles is always extremely colourful at this time of year, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Here in the town, despite recent strong winds, the thickly matted autumn leaves, generated during last spring, are now only beginning to loosen their grip, to flutter down to earth. This same action now allows the numerous bright beams of yellow sunshine to penetrate through to the pavements and the rural mossy previous shaded grassy floors.

Here, in the coldish 12°C sunlight being experienced in Thurles in Co. Tipperary presently, a myriad of these Autumn leaves, today lie mainly underfoot, thus forming a rich carpet of yellows, golds, reds and browns. Some can be also observed performing their final dance, encouraged by a light south westerly breeze, before eventually loosing themselves in that river of earlier leaves that have fallen in love with the surface of the ground.

For all mankind, autumn is seen as that period for storing up our annual harvest, but for Mother Nature, it is that time for also undertaking the setting of seed, thus ensuring that after a brief sleep, next year’s plants are replenished.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Time Is Getting Short For Those Wishing To Pick Blackberries

The Michaelmas Daisy Fairy Song.

By Cicely Mary Barker

“Red Admiral, Red Admiral,
Alighting on my daisies one by one!
I hope you like their flavour and although the Autumn’s near,
Are happy as you sit there in the sun?”

“I thank you very kindly, sir!
Your daisies are so nice,
So pretty and so plentiful are they;
The flavour of their honey, sir, it really does entice;
I’d like to bring my brothers, if I may!”

“Friend butterfly, friend butterfly, go fetch them one and all!
I’m waiting here to welcome every guest;
And tell them it is Michaelmas, and soon the leaves will fall,
But I think Autumn sunshine is the best!”


Michaelmas daisies (Variety Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’) together with the bright yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia (Variety “Goldstrum”); a must for  any garden especially those seeking long lasting colour; as our warm Summer slowly now reverts to Autumn.

Michaelmas Daisies (Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’), together with the bright yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia (“Goldstrum”) are both hardy perennial garden flowers, (Available at O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles), which emerge from small ever enlarging colonies of underground rhizomes to form clumps some 60cm (around 2ft), in height each Spring, later displaying glorious rich colour, from mid to late Summer right through to the end of Autumn.

While the yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia are said to symbolizes a farewell or a departure; it is the name associated with the blueish grey daisy that we feature in this article.

Michaelmas is the name of the first term of the academic year. It is also a term name used by the Honorable Society of King’s Inns in Ireland. The Michaelmas term begins in September and ends towards the end of December. The name Michaelmas comes from a shortening of “Michael’s Mass,”, similar to and in the same style as Christmas, “Christ’s Mass” and Candlemas, “Candle Mass”, latter the Mass where traditionally all candles used throughout the year would be blessed.

In the fifth century a basilica near Rome was dedicated in honour of Michael on the 30th September, beginning with celebrations on the eve of that day, and 29th September is now kept in honour of St. Michael and all Angels, throughout some western churches.

Associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of days; during the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. It was also one of the Irish quarter days, when outstanding accounts had to be settled.

Folklore suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St Michael expelled Lucifer (the devil), from heaven, the latter fell from the sky, landing in prickly blackberry bushes. Satan is said to have cursed the fruit, before scorching them with his fiery breath, then stamping, spitting and urinating on them, so that they would become unfit for human consumption.  It was therefore considered ill-advised to pick blackberries after the 29th of September, with a Michaelmas pie being made from the last blackberry fruit of the season.

First observed as a healing angel, and then over time as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil; from 1961 to 1965, four young schoolgirls reported several apparitions of the Archangel Michael in their small village of Garabandal, in Spain. The apparitions of the Archangel Michael were mainly reported as announcing the expected arrival of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

These events at Garabandal began on June 18th, 1961, when the four girls aged eleven and twelve years old, [Mari Loli Mazón, Jacinta González, Mari Cruz González and Maria “Conchita” Concepción González], said that they saw an angel. This angel made another appearance on June 25th. Their story quickly spread throughout the village and they subsequently reported seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. These claims continued for a number of years.

According to the visionaries, the purpose of these visitations was to call for a “conversion of heart”,  with these visionaries reporting that they received two ‘messages’; one directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the other from the Virgin Mary, by way of St. Michael the Archangel. The first message was revealed on October 18th, 1961, which stated:-  “We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance, and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up, and if we do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us.”

It was on June 18th, 1965, when Conchita, the principal visionary heard the second message, which was televised live by Spanish television. It stated:-  “As my Message of the 18th of October has not been complied with, and as it has not been made known to the world, I am telling you that this is the last one. Previously, the Cup was filling; now, it is brimming over. Many priests are following the road to perdition, (latter a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unrepentant person passes after death), and with them they are taking many more souls. Ever less importance is being given to the Holy Eucharist. We should turn the wrath of God away from us by our own efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with a sincere heart. He will pardon you. I, your Mother, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, wish to tell you that you should make amends. You are now being given the last warnings. I love you very much, and I do not want your condemnation. Ask Us sincerely and We shall grant your plea. You must make more sacrifices. Reflect on the Passion of Jesus.

The second message caused particular controversy when it was revealed that Conchita had actually written “many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are following the road to perdition.”  She was asked many times to verify this information. The young woman stated many times that Mary stressed the importance of the priesthood, and focused attention on priests above others.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail