Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Equinox

In the Garden

By Catherine Dougherty

The arrival of the Spring Equinox this year was highly unusual. The blizzard took everyone by surprise and the lovely Jonquils were no exception. As the sky began to darken and the winds began to howl, there was little time to rush to the garden to cut all of the current blooms to bring springtime inside as the snow accumulated outside. The advice of many gardeners in New England, where they receive winter weather well into spring, is to consider early Jonquils merely part of the cutting garden and not plan to keep them outside at all.

The emerging perennials will not be affected as they have a built in anti-freeze. And due to the cold temperatures of February, luck has prevailed and the fruit trees are not yet in bloom. Obviously the garden has taken a hit, but it has endured far worse and managed to survive. Recall the Spring of 2003 with the unusual high temperatures and lack of significant rain since August? Or perhaps the March 30th freeze of 2000 when all the fruit trees were in bloom? However for anyone who is a weather buff, the two blizzards in less than three months will make this winter season memorable for many years to come.

The arrival of spring, the Spring Equinox, has been held sacred for thousands of years and is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, ready to tip to the point of light. The Equinox honors youth, dawn, the morning star and the east. The Saxton goddess Eostre, from whence we get the direction east and the holiday Easter, is a dawn goddess ushering in the time of new light and new life.

The Roman New Year began on March 15th (the Ides of March) and the month of March is named after the Roman god, Mars. Between the twelfth century and 1752, March 25th was New Years Day in England and Ireland where the custom was to celebrate the new beginning. In both Greek and Roman mythology, the beautiful young daughter of a goddess, banished and forced to reside with the King of the Underworld for half the year, is allowed to return to her mother. Their joyful reunion ushers in rebirth of the land. In Christianity, Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the celebration of rebirth as well. Passover is also the Jewish equivalent of a rebirth celebration.

Regardless of religious belief, the change of the seasons and ensuing celebrations, all rooted in the patterns of the moon, are universal and have been present for thousands of years. The Farmers Almanac has pages dedicated to the times in which to plant crops, all indicating the importance of the astrological signs. When planting below ground crops, (carrots, turnips, potatoes, beets, etc.) do so in the dark of the moon for they enjoy growing while sleeping in darkness. For plants which provide their produce above ground, plant the seeds in the light of the moon. The heavenly forces of the moon will call them forth so they may see the moonlight. Happy Spring!