March Comes In Like a Lion, Goes Out Like a Lamb

mudseason“March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.”  ~ Proverb

Here in New England during March, we can experience a broad range of weather from raging blizzard, like Tuesday’s storm Stella, to warm days with temperatures reaching the 60sF (15C). So far this month, the proverb is holding true– we’ve had the lion and now we’re hoping for the lamb.

For those who live on dirt roads, it is also mud season, which, depending on the rate of thaw, is either “not too bad,” or “living hell,” with axle deep mud.

It is also when maple sap flows and we flock to sugarhouses for that delicious treat: maple syrup and sugar candy.

ImageIn varying degrees, we also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, breaking out of winter’s doldrums with total abandon by imbibing glasses of green beer, or for those more temperate, cheery bouquets of green carnations, bells of Ireland and potted gifts of Oxalis, commonly known as shamrocks. The triple-leaved symbol was said to be used by St. Patrick in the 5th century to teach ‘pagans’ about the Holy Trinity and the three Christian virtues of faith, love and charity. (The four-leaved clover, because of its rare occurrence, became associated with good luck, symbolizing respect, health, wealth and love.)

For those who garden, you can generate your own good luck by growing Oxalis from bulbs on your windowsill or patio. Easy to grow, they come in many varieties. The family Oxalidaceae has 6 genera and over two hundred species originating from all over the world, with the majority from the Americas and South Africa. The latter being the easiest to cultivate.


Bulbs planted in full sun in spring form mounds of foliage in four to six weeks and are covered with blooms until cooler weather sends them into dormancy. Not winter hardy below US zone 7, they must be dug up and stored overwinter. After a period of rest, they can be repotted in 50/50-coir/perlite mix and will bloom indoors throughout the winter. Not liking wet feet, water sparingly only when dry.

Oxalis regnelli is the classic green shamrock with bright green foliage, topped by abundant white, five-petalled blossoms. O. triangularis has large purple leaves with deep pink interiors. O. tetraphylla ‘Iron Cross’ has bright green leaves with purple splashes at leaf junctions. For the unusual, O. vulcanicola ‘Molten Lava’ sports chartreuse to orange foliage with yellow flowers. All make great additions to outdoor container gardens.


Oxalis tetraphylla ‘Iron Cross’ at Powell Gardens, photo: Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.”  ~ Irish Blessing

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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42 Responses to March Comes In Like a Lion, Goes Out Like a Lamb

  1. MK says:

    May you be showered in green !

  2. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, Eliza! I absolutely love oxalis. A favorite. 😊

  3. There is so much to love about this post – from real, maple syrup (my mouth is watering) to the idea of growing shamrocks (never even contemplated that before – I always knew them as clover that would pop up in yards and looking for a four leaf one was a kids summer pastime). Mind blown and tastebuds jealous. I will be looking out for both now in my neck of the globe 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I’m told that oxalis grows wild all over S.Africa, while we fuss over our little pots of them. 😉 Maple syrup in Namibia, I imagine, would be as rare as hen’s teeth and very pricey (the freight alone would make your hair stand on end). But what a treat it is -esp. maple cream, it’s the cat’s meow!

  4. Kris P says:

    Best wishes for a happy – and snow-free – St. Patrick’s Day! I hope March does indeed exit like a lamb and that you do not, at any point this month, find yourself mired in mud.

  5. Anne says:

    Who would have thought of planting Oxalis and overwintering their bulbs? The plants grow wild here and as children we used to call them yum-yums for their leaves are peppery and we enjoyed eating them – rather similar in taste to nasturtium leaves. I leave them wherever they happen to grow and will look at them afresh from now on 🙂

  6. Happy St Pats Day Eliza!

  7. Christina says:

    I sense a feeling of hope in your writing that winter might be over despite the storm!

  8. Kathy Sturr says:

    Blessings to you Eliza! I am going to google oxalis bulbs. There’s a pretty purple variety that I think is hardy in my area up North Z4! Normally I would plant my peas up North today but I don’t think anyone will be planting peas today!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Kathy. It is still persistently wintery here, alas. The blue sky and bright sun are stunning, however. Good weather for shoe-shoeing!

  9. Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! You know we’ll be celebrating here!

  10. gaiainaction says:

    I love the Oxalis Eliza, they have them here in yellow so beautiful, and I’ve seen pink ones also which are so cheerful. A clover is such a lovely leaf, glad to read your post about it. 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Agnes. They are not so common around here, mostly the purple-leaved variety is what is for sale. Except in March, when pots of shamrocks are offered. Tomorrow they’ll be half-price! 😉 ☘️ Have a great weekend!

  11. Cathy says:

    I do hope March has really quietened down for you and you can welcome spring by the end of the month! 🙂

  12. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Here’s to March exiting like a lamb! Interesting to hear your Saint Patrick’s day traditions there. It’s funny how all these once local celebrations are now quite global.

  13. Laurie Graves says:

    Bring on the lambs! And the maple syrup, which makes my heart sing with joy.

  14. Brenda says:

    Now that St. Patrick’s Day is over, it’s time to buy the marked-down Oxalis and corned beef.

  15. Cecilia says:

    Great post and wonderful pictures! I love green!

  16. Judie Sigdel says:

    I didn’t know that shamrocks grew from bulbs and I would never have imagined where they come from! Amazing!

  17. Maria F. says:

    I found four-leaved clovers and didn’t know what they symbolized. Now I know.

  18. markmhamann says:

    ! I found four-leaved clovers and didn’t know what they symbolized.

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