Garden Lifestyle

Spring Forward

This weekend starts Daylight Saving Time throughout most of the United States.

Sweep of naturalized daffodils in Arkansas. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

This weekend starts Daylight Saving Time throughout most of the United States.  We will set our clocks forward an hour—springing forward. When we awake in the morning it might still be dark for some of us early-morning risers; that part might be challenging for a little while. However, we will have an extra hour of light at the end of the day, which makes most of us gardening types happy!

On the first of March, our day length was 11 hours and 16 minutes, and by the end of the month, we will have daylight for 12 hours and 42 minutes. Hurray, more time to be outdoors in the garden! We just had a Full Worm Moon on the 8th of March, so we are in a root moon until the 22nd with the next new moon. So now is the time to plant onions, leeks, radishes, potatoes and other root crops. Native to my Irish roots, it is traditional to plant taties (potatoes) on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17.

The upcoming celebration of spring will begin on the vernal equinox on March 20. I departed my home in Maryland for my annual pilgrimage to Arkansas for springtime in the Ozarks. When I left, my Tete a Tete miniature daffodils and snow drops were finishing blooming and my larger daffodils and crocus had just begun to bloom. Hellebores have been showing off for about six to eight weeks, pussy willows were opening and trees were showing buds. All of this burgeoning life activity was about two weeks earlier than usual.

Here in the Ozarks, they are a good two to three weeks ahead of Maryland, even though we are both zone 7a. Daffodils and crocus are near about peaked, grape hyacinths showing off, and pansies are joyfully everywhere. Forsythia, quince, crabapples are honking—at the height of their colorful blooms. Mornings start out cold, by midday one has to remove jacket or sweatshirt, and then put it back on as the sun starts to descend westward. Big rains are nourishing the earth and making waterfalls spill over these big rocks, which the Ozarks are known for.  

I am getting ready for Ozark Folk School, where I will be teaching a 3-day course on Herbs 101 at the Ozark Folk Center from March 19 to 21. There is still room to sign up if you want to have some hands-on herbal learning fun. This weekend is the Bluegrass  Festival; during the growing season, there is always something going on at the OFC. Growing throughout the Craft Village, the Heritage Herb Garden that interprets the plants, both native and exotic, that were important to people who settled in the hills. Educational gardens include the Folk Kids’ Mountain Garden and a water feature with a spring that feeds two streams with waterfalls, depicting the natural resource that formed the Ozark Mountains and made life possible. The Herb Shoppe and the Village Apothecary are great resources for heirloom seeds, plant starts, homemade soaps and teas; the Craft Village opens April 3.

I will be at the  Arkansas River Valley Lawn and Garden Show at Fort Smith from March 23 to 25, where I will lecture on Rose, Herb of the Year 2012 with co-author, Tina Marie Wilcox, and I will also do a program on Tea Herbs and Growing a Tea Party Garden. We will be signing our books. The Ozark Folk Center’s booth will offer plants, seeds, essential oils and information about the park.

We will be leading a Spring Ephemeral hike on an Ozark mountainside homestead, along with a number of other herbalists and wild foods experts on April 6. This Medicinal Herb Weekend has become very popular, so sign up while there is still room on the bus. Saturday, March 7 will be an all-day seminar with a number of speakers. Andrea and Matthias Reisen are traveling from upstate New York to share their herbal knowledge and I will be speaking on the art of preparing and using aromatic bitters.

In the meantime, I am here communing with nature  and enjoying spring—planting and digging and creating all sorts of fun with garden pals. Don’t forget to get outside at night and check out the evening sky—the planets and constellations are dazzling this month—Mars and the moon, Saturn and Spica and the Pleiades are all visible.

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