March is a month of contrasts, as the earth tilts on it’s axis and the sun lights and warms the land that had been held in long dark hours. Plants wake up from winter dormancy and winds stir the air. Often strong winds. Sunny hot days are followed by rainy cool ones. So much contrast! There is even a saying about this tumultuous weather.
If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.
Is there any truth to this saying? Weather sayings are as colorful as our imagination! Many sayings are based on careful observations and are indeed accurate, yet others seem to be there just to put a positive spin on the slings and arrows of fortune. The idea with this saying is that there will be a balance to life and to weather too. Thus, if a month starts with adverse weather or roaring like a lion, it should go out and calm and docile, like a lamb. Checking with the weather service, they reveal that this is just one of those optimistic sayings to cheer gardeners and farmers.
March is Full of Contrasts
Along with shifts and contrasts in weather, there are contrasts with our plants. A look around the garden on the first of March and I could see that many plants were recovering from the winter cold while other plants were suffering from the unseasonable heat. Such different reactions! This underscores one of the great things about our wonderful region – we are living in a place where the plants from radically different climates can be grown.
In the Herb Garden
Planted in October, the annual winter herbs (originally from northern Europe) including parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel, and caraway are all beginning to end their lives. They bloom, set seed, and die. This year they are wilting in the drying wind and unseasonably warm sun. Usually they last into late April, but I believe that this year they have two, maybe three weeks before they are done for the year.
Meanwhile – the perennial herbs that are native here, such as desert lavender and Mexican oregano, have tiny buds and are getting ready to leaf out.
Native perennials like brittle bush and penstemons have flower petals peeking out of the buds. Some of the non-natives trees are in flower bud as well, including citrus, plums, and mulberry. The jujube is holding back a bit, but I expect blooms soon.
As for the date palms? They just want to get out of their pot and into the ground already! Sorry to say that task will have to wait until we can get a fenced area ready for them. They are well-watered in their pot yet would make a juicy snack for the neighborhood javalina if they were not protected.
March roared in like a lion with some heat and wind. Here is hoping it goes meekly on it’s way for the rest of the month.
If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my free lectures that I mention on my Gardening With Soule Facebook page. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol may get a few pennies.
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