Sunday, May 3, 2009

Remembering Lawns of White Clover

One sunny warm afternoon last week I was gardening in my yard here in Itawamba County and came across a patch of blooming white clover on my lawn. The site of this clover instantly flooded my mind with memories of childhood summers in Itawamba County.

Back when I was a kid, everyone had patches of white clover on their lawns. This was before today’s monotonous manicured lawns of green turf. The white clover blooms on the lawn would attract butterflies and honey bees. As a kid I would catch bees in a fruit jar and would sit on the lawn combing through the green plants looking for that special lucky four-leaf clover. When the lawn would be mowed, the sweet smell of fresh-cut green clover would sift through the humid summer air creating a fragrant treat for the senses. And of course there’s nothing better than walking barefoot through a field of cool damp clover on a hot Mississippi summer’s day.

White clover has been around these parts for quite awhile. During 1794 a visitor to America wrote: “In every part of America, from New Hampshire to Carolina, from the sea to the mountains, the land … whether wet or dry, whether worn out or retaining its original fertility, from the summit of the Alleghany ridge to the sandy plains of Virginia, is spontaneously covered with white clover, growing frequently with a luxuriance and perfection that art can rarely equal in Europe1.”

For hundreds of years, white clover has been cherished throughout the countryside. During 1892 Cora Randall Fabbri wrote a poem called White Clover. One verse of the little poem reads:

Among the clover in the lane,
The thought comes of a Long Ago.
And for a little while I know
I am a little child again.

1Charles V. Piper, Forage Plants and Their Culture, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1916, 411.

2Cora Randall Fabbri, Lyrics, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1892, 133.


Tracy said...

Oh I remember many times as a child walking through white clover barefoot and stepping on those honey bees, OUCH!
My dad had bee hives so we had plenty of bees around, I'd fuss about getting stung, he'd fuss at me for stepping on his bees and killing them. haha...

Bob Franks said...

I suffered many of those bee stings while walking in clover barefoot too Tracy. It seems I don't see as many bees nowdays as I did back when I was a kid.

Rita said...

Hey, You just made my day. I never though of white clover as old fashion but all things here have to be. I have an old fashion yard like from your childhood! I have two big patches of white clover right by the porch. They are intentionally left because the grand daughters love making clover braclets and necklaces by tying the stems around the blooms and making long chains. This will have to be on my blog now for sure.

Bob Franks said...

Your yard sounds fun Rita. I like the old fashioned lawns. Today, all the new houses have perfect green turf and one yard looks like the next. It's so plastic and uniform looking. The old fashioned lawns with white clover mixed in with the grass are a lot more interesting.

Anonymous said...

If you imply that all the bees have left MS, I can tell you where they have gone. "They've gone to Texas, friend" where some of us fell head over heels in love with a "new find" shrub about 30/35 years ago. It is listed as Photina Frasia (I hope I have spelled the second word correctly.) We planted those pretty little crimson red/green "gallon sized plants" so close and by the time our favorite botanist in North Texas informed us that this "cute little shrub" would grow into trees, well - we were in trouble. My husband's hobby shop sits in a corner of the back yard and I had planted these Photinas too close to one another, and in the early spring they have a lovely creamy white pom pom that really attracts bees. We now have a problem with all these bees getting into the walls of his shop and oozing honey. It costs several hundred dollars to call the "Bees be Gone" man to come out and declare we are rid of them, but they come back every spring and by late summer, the outside wall is swarming with those bees. I welcome you to come with your bees netting and have a go at "taking 'em back home!" bettye