Even given the tumultuous times that we are now going through, Spring has arrived!
With most of us staying at home, or closer to home, I can’t help but think thoughts of Spring and the garden. If it feels like Spring has arrived early this year, you are right.
For much of the last century, the Spring equinox has occurred on March 20 or 21. This year, however, the equinox happened on March 19th and the last time Spring arrived this early was in 1896 – 124 years ago!
While for us it was the first day of Spring, in the southern hemisphere, it was the first day of Fall.
Astronomically, on the March equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator” because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator. If you were standing on the equator, the Sun would pass directly overhead on its way north.
Equinoxes (Spring and Fall) are the only two times a year that the Sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us on Earth!
While the Sun passes overhead, the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.)
After the spring equinox, the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun, which is why we start to get those longer, sunnier days that most of us long for.
While that’s the astronomical explanation, I also thought we could take a lighter and brighter look at Spring and see what everyone’s birthday flower is according to your month.
January – while we don’t see any flowers blooming outside during this month, the beautiful carnation is the flower of the month.
A long-lasting flower, it is ideal for a bouquet in one of the coldest months of the year and provides a welcome bit of colour in what is often a grey winter month of short days and long nights.
February – another cold month, February is lucky enough to have two of the most beautiful flowers – the elegant and stately iris >
and the pretty little violet that appears delicate but is actually quite hardy
March – with March truly comes Spring and that first burst of colour with the cheery and welcomed daffodil. Even where there is still snow, the daffodil’s green shoots can be spotted and where the sun creates a warmth against a house or fence, it is the daffodil that bursts out with its sunny heads.
April – April is another of those months with two flowers and both of them are definitely signs of Spring. The cheerful daisy and the sweet, sweet pea that climbs beautifully wherever it is sown.
May – For Canadians, May brings the time when we are told that planting can safely take placed after the 24th of the month. It is also the month of the very fragrant Lily of the Valley with its delicate scent. With its bell-like flower, Lily of the Valley ‘spreads’ like a carpet so be aware.
June – is there anyone who doesn’t like the flower that signifies summer like no other? The beautiful rose.
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From the velvet-like deep red, a symbol of love to the delicate pale pink that means refinement and sweetness and the white rose that understandably stands for purity, youthfulness and innocence.
July – In the heat of July, there are two flowers recognized. The larkspur with its tall heads in icy-blues, purples and whites create a coolness in one of the hottest months.
<The other is the waterlily that creates a splash of colour in its watery home in the garden.
August – As summer begins to wane and with Fall just around the corner, one of the most beautiful flowers of the garden makes its appearance – the gladiolus. From the Latin ‘gladius’ meaning sword, like a gladiator, it represents strength and integrity as it stands tall in the garden.
September – Shaped like a star, purple asters are the most popular symbolizing wisdom and royalty. The name aster comes from the Greek ‘aster’ meaning star. A perfect name for this little flower.
October – As we start to come toward the end of the year and time to begin putting the garden to bed, it’s a time when the hardy little marigold brings its autumn colours of gold and rust to the garden for a welcome bit of colour. Even cold nights don’t bother this little guy as he keeps on going right through to frost.
November – The ‘mum’ is a shortened version of the name chrysanthemum that applies to more than 30 species and comes in every colour except blue.
The hardy outdoor mum usually begins blooming in October and will bloom for up to six weeks during the cool Fall days of November
December – Finally … we are at the end of the year and for those of you who have a birthday in December, you have two flowers of the month. The prickly holly with its shiny green leaves and the traditional holiday poinsettia that has one of the most interesting histories.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Guatemala and were cultivated by the Aztecs for use in traditional medicine and as a dye. It was first introduced to North America by Joel Poinsett the first U.S. Minister to Mexico and was also a linguist, scientist and horticulturist The plant was named after him sometime in the 1800s in honour of his missionary work. It has become the most popular plant at Christmas time with almost 100 million sold in North America.