First dandelions, then white clover

Sadly the city of Marshall did the mowing along the bike/walk/jog path on the south east side of Country Club Drive, particularly between Fourth Street and the Southview/Camden/Cheryl intersection.

In the spring first came the greening of the grassy area, then the flowering and leafing out of the trees, followed shortly by a burst of the sunshine-yellow of the dandelions. Before this past weekend, a previous cutting had taken down the delicate, silvery-white globes of the dandelion seeds, those, that is, that had not already succumbed to the prairie winds and been spread across a few lawns and the golf course.

Let me interrupt my narrative here to say that as a homeowner, dandelions were a curse that needed “taking care of” every spring and throughout the summer, especially when there were always neighbors who did not share the opinion that dandelions were indeed a curse. Dandelions are nice, but NOT IN MY BACK YARD! Some days it was like, “Oh, Fiddlesticks! there’s another yellow spot in my lawn.”

What comes after dandelions on that area along Country Club Drive? It is not just a viewing, but also an olfactory sensation dredging up memories from my childhood. I hope a few of you readers (or more) can relate to the aroma of the white clover (trifolium repens) that is also seen as a scourge to the perfect lawn syndrome. Each spring it is a delightful experience to walk or bike along that trail when the clover is in its first June 10, 2017, full bloom.

Are there those who have never searched the three-leafed (trifoliate) clovers in search of that rarity of a four-leafed clover even if the last time you did it was as a preschooler? It doesn’t stop there. You could search for quatrefoiled, cinquefoiled, septfoiled stems as well. The Guiness World Record for multi-leafed clovers was 21 in 2008, but in 2009, the new record became 56! That deserves another Oh, Fiddlesticks!

One thing that is sadly missing from the clover, is the presence of bees that were ever present in the clover when I was a youngster. I know I was stung several times by bees, but rarely hear these days of bee stings. I admit that being stung was my own fault at least once

In addition to bees in the clover, we had bees in the hollyhocks. The great fun(?) was to pinch the hollyhock flower closed with a bee inside. When seeking commiseration from being stung through the flower petals, my mother didn’t say I was dumb, but merely commented, “What did you expect to happen?”

In Ohio, some farmers in some years grew clover as a forage crop, but that was usually a bigger variety, usually we thought of it as purple clover. Driving in the country with the windows down (no airconditioning then) on a warm summer day also brought in that wonderful clover aroma.


A natural association with clover is to think of the cloverleaf interchanges on our highway systems. The most complete cloverleaf interchange is a bilevel construction where two highways meet at right angles, but one of the highways either dips to go under the other or raises slightly to go over the other. The four right turn lanes to change to the other highway are gentle curves often at the same level, but left turns are accommodated by what is a three-quarter circle that goes from one level to the other to change roadways.

It is the left turn portions of the interchange that roughly form the four leaf clover. Though I wonder if money exchanges hands on patents for such roadways, it turns out that the first cloverleaf was patented back in 1916, but it took about 10 years or so for the cloverleaf, or a modification of it, to become a common design for crossing of two major highways.

Prior to the cloverleaf, a common interchange was the so-called diamond intersection that had one roadway that had no need for stopping traffic to get on or off; the other roadway had stop signs or traffic lights to control the left and right turns to get on or off.

If there are fewer than four of the left turn leaf roads, the interchange is called a jughead or parclo (i.e. PARt CLOverleaf) intersection. If you hadn’t heard of a parclo before, you can add that to your list of “learning something new every day.” I had not heard of it before starting to write this bit on cloverleafs. I have now added it next to traffic circles, roundabouts, and j-intersections.


Earlier in this column I mentioned the prairie winds that are a very efficient disburser of dandelion seeds. Those winds really played havoc with my tomato plants on Saturday. This year I decided not to grow my tomato plants in a regular garden, but instead I am trying to grow them on my patio in “grow boxes.” The grow boxes allow for continuous watering and include as well a method for continuous, but not overdone, fertilizing.

I followed the directions of planting very small seedling tomatoes rather than some of the larger ones found at various nursery outlets in the area.

Surprisingly, my plants have grown rapidly and have been blooming, promising some good, healthy tomatoes maybe earlier than I have ever had them. I am keeping my fingers crossed on that.

Homegrown garden vegetables always seem to be better than those purchased in stores, but of all the vegetables, tomatoes are much, Much, MUCH better when coming from your own endeavors.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!