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"March Ramblings," by the Whistling Gardener

There is nothing that gets my gardening juices flowing more than a string of dry days, a little blue sky, and the mercury flirting in the low 60’s. Such was the case last week and boy did I take advantage of it - this is often the case in March.
Flowering Cherry Tree. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

There is nothing that gets my gardening juices flowing more than a string of dry days, a little blue sky, and the mercury flirting in the low 60’s. Such was the case last week and boy did I take advantage of it - this is often the case in March.

March is a crazy month. First off, it is the only month with a command: March Forth,” which should be a call to arms for all gardeners.

Second, March 14th this year was when we switched to daylight savings time, which forces us all to get up an hour earlier but also allows us to work in the garden an hour later. (If you happen to be one of those math nerds, it was also “pi” day.) 

March 15th was the Ides of March, an ominous day if you are Julius Caesar, but for gardeners, nothing more than the day of the first March full moon. The majority of Ides actually fall on the 13th of the month, but in any case, the 15th of March is just another great day to garden and plant, especially if you are prone to follow the folklore of planting by the moon cycles.

March 17th was of course St. Patrick’s Day, when they turn the Chicago River green, we eat green eggs and drink green beer, and if we aren’t wearing green, we can get pinched. 

I’m not sure if any of this has much to do with gardening, but green is a great color and it makes me think of lush, healthy lawns which will benefit this month from a good application of moss killer and a shot of fertilizer and lime.

Moving on to the 20th brings us to the most significant day of this month, the Spring Equinox.  This is when our days become longer than our nights, with more than 12 hours of daylight compared to less than 12 hours of darkness. 

From a horticultural perspective, this is huge! The garden is reborn and comes alive once again after its winter slumber - the same can be said about us. Our spirit wakes up from what is often a fog of despair or depression and our energy starts to return with hope and optimism.

We get excited about life again and look forward to getting back into the garden and working with the earth. The Spring Equinox can be both a spiritual as well as physical awakening, especially for gardeners. 

As I wander through my garden this time of year, I see all kinds of rebirth, especially in my perennials, but also in the shrubs and trees with their flower buds swelling and starting to show color. 

Around town, the purple leaf plums have started to bloom with their cotton candy pink flowers.  If you happen to spot a tree that is both pink and white, it is because a sucker from the root stock was allowed to grow. You’ll want to keep the suckers pruned off to help the main trunk receive the most “growing energy,” and it will also help you to have a cleaner looking tree.

Following on the heels of the plums are the flowering pears and Asian pears with their bright white flowers, after which it starts to feel like the dam has broken and everything is competing for attention. Everywhere I look there is new life.

For me, March is the month that the earth’s spirit comes alive once again and I find myself surrounded, not only by its glory and beauty, but also its energy. Drink up and let your cup runneth over. Spring has arrived! Stay safe and keep on gardening.

Sunnyside’s next online free classes will be "Cool Crops: Early Season Veggies" on Saturday, March 27, 2021, at 10:00 am; and "Weed Control" on Sunday, March 28th, at 11:00 am. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net/classes.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at sunnysidenursery@msn.com.

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