March Marches In, Take a Leek, Red Daffodils? & Fifty Shades of (Birth)day

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 25th February 2017

March Marches In

I’m not quite sure where February went, but already March will be marching in this week. The saying goes, if March comes in like a lion, it’ll go out like a lamb. But, as I write this, the forecast is actually for the beginning of March to be warmer in Wales than in Greece.

Other traditional weather predictions include, ‘As many mists in March as there are frosts in May’ and ‘As it rains in March so it rains in June.’ So, I for one, will be keeping a note of March’s weather.

Years ago, Dad used to tell us that it was a rare occurrence to be able to pick a daffodil from the garden for St David’s Day, but now you could almost pick one for Valentine’s Day! The seasons have definitely changed over the last thirty years.

Take a Leek

Traditionally it is the leek that is the most associated as an emblem for St David’s Day – for a number of reasons, depending which you believe. Whilst other pupils had lovely, cheerful daffodils pinned to their jumpers, I remember Grandad always giving me and my brother a strongly-smelling leek to take to primary school on March, where it would then be chopped up for soup by the local dinner lady.

Apparently there is a Welsh superstition that if a single person sleeps with a leek under their pillow on the night of St David’s Day, they will see their future spouse in their dreams.

And if you want a really original way to use a leek – why not try the Welsh superfood smoothie, with home-grown leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, savoy cabbage, honey and cockles. The smoothie was launched in Prestatyn on St David’s Day last year at the Nova. Sarah Ruffley, who works at the revamped attraction said: “As it was Wales’ Year of Adventure, we thought we’d get creative with an adventurous, nutritional smoothie that will allow our customers to try Welsh ingredients in a unique way.”

Red Daffodils?

Although it was the leek that was originally associated with St David’s day, the daffodil has become a more acceptable alternative. No one really seems to know why but the more obvious suggestions include the facts that the flower appeared in early spring, around the time of St David’s Day, Lloyd George wore the daffodil on this day and encouraged its use at the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1911 and it is just a sweeter-smelling alternative. Another reason maybe that the word for daffodil and for leek are the same in Welsh – Cenhinen for Leek and Cenhinen Pedr for Daffodil.

One of my most written about ‘tricks’ with a daffodil is to place the cut flowers in a vase of water with a drop or two of food colouring. The dye is taken up through the stem and into the capillaries in the flower and is quite effective. Red is the most dramatic colour to use but be warned, it stains everything, not just daffodils!

Fifty Shades of (Birth)day

March is also the month that I reach my half century. Funny old thing (pun intended), age. I wasn’t bothered at all by entering my 40’s and skidded past that particular post with reckless abandonment, but 50 feels different. Apparently, 50 is the new 40 and most people in their 50’s say they have more confidence than they used to, more wisdom, and a greater acceptance of who they are and what they want.

Elliott Jaques, the psychoanalyst who coined the term mid-life crisis in 1965 at the age of 48 also had a similar attitude. Between then and his death aged 86 in 2003, he got married, wrote 12 books, acted as a consultant to the Church of England and the U.S. Army and produced some of his most original ideas.

There are several documented examples of various desert plants taking fifty years to bloom – so that’s encouraging too! And a friend has challenged me to do something significant each day for the 21 days up to my 50th. It’s an interesting way to leave my 40’s behind – I’ll let you know how I get on!

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