Great-grandfather’s wisdom…

Pa was my mother’s mother’s father. I knew him as a retired teacher and accountant who lived in the country, grew apricots and was talented at making teetering towers of dominoes. As a young child I never appreciated his gardening expertise. Thank goodness he handed down his wisdom to my mother.

Twenty six Aprils ago my mother came to town to help me restore my new home’s yard. We cleared overgrown shrubs, filled divots in the lawn, added fresh top soil mixed with peat, and sewed fresh grass seed. Before seeding we pulled Lily of the Valley out of the lawn, but when I began to remove the White Clover my mother stopped me. I was surprised because my mother’s lawn has always been a major source of pride for her in the neighborhood; now she was encouraging me to grow weeds. White Clover (trifolium repens),the three leaved spreading Eurasian weed, was to remain in my new lawn.

White Clover with Eastern Cottontail copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Her advice, from Pa’s learning was that clover in a lawn is evidence of healthy soil; so clover in a lawn is a good thing. It was suggested by a naturalist to me once that perhaps Pa just wasn’t able to rid his lawn of clover. He might have stretched truth to save his image with his granddaughter, my mom. I have learned that his advice is indeed worthy of consideration as White Clover is a valued addition with grass seeds in new lawns. The clover helps control erosion and will enrich poor soil.

  • White clovers are good for lawns since nodules on the roots fix nitrogen from the air. Actually, up to 1/3 the nitrogen your lawn needs can be obtained from white dutch clover! (source:

To this day my mother cannot pass a patch of White Clover without looking for the rare lucky four-leaf clover; a favorite pastime of many children. My fondness of White Clover was sealed after making my first successful clover chain necklace. This popular cover crop is valued as a high protein source for grazing animals including the neighborhood Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). I welcome the bright white clovers in my lawn for my pleasure, my soil’s richness, and as a healthy treat for welcome wild guests.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

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