St. Brigid and J. effusus

A particularly beautiful field of Juncus in West Cork

It is that time of year again.  Time to celebrate Spring by ridding the house of evil spirits and protecting it from fire. And how is that done in Ireland? With the making and hanging of St. Brigids Cross from the rafters and doorways. I myself, do not know how to make one although it seems like a much more pleasant way of heralding the joys and promises of Spring than to be dragged into the version I grew up with: the dreaded household Spring cleaning where you were forced to work side by side with your little brother (potentially an evil spirit at the time) and remove all signs of dust (a fire hazard).

But back to the relationship between St Brigid and Juncus effusus. Apparently, St Brigid, in and around the start of February, wove a simple cross from Juncus found next to a dying man in order to convert him. I do not fully understand this sequence of events: death in a field + woven cross = Catholic BUT there is a a strong possibility I either missed or slept through that class. What I do know is that Juncus, both in its natural state and in the garden, is a truly beautiful plant and completely underutilized. This is most likely due to its association with boggy cow fields and its tendency to seed and spread AND its incredible root system which makes it very difficult to remove from unwanted locales. Despite all this, I have been using it in several gardens as it is evergreen, native and low maintenance and has the most beautiful, delicate and subtle flowers. It thrives in heavy clay that tends to be waterlogged and acidic.

For more in depth information on St Brigid see this article or this one:

stbrigidscross

A particularly beautiful field of Juncus in West Cork

A particularly beautiful field of Juncus in West Cork

Subtle Juncus flowers. Thanks to Bob Osborn, Yeovil, UK

Subtle Juncus flowers. Thanks to Bob Osborn, Yeovil, UK

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