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As the wind blows

March 1, 2019
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Before scientific facts came about, our ancestors relied on folklore or made up their own, based on their personal observations. Weather folklore became as colorful as our imaginations. Some of our observations were factual and some were rhymes and beliefs based on "bad spirits." We felt weather and life should be balanced. Having lived up north, I was familiar with "March coming in like a lion -" and being a windy month in which kites flourished (I just saw pictures on Facebook of my great-granddaughter flying a kite here). Can't say much for the "out like a lamb bit" when we will have hurricanes to look forward to starting on June 1. If we look to the stars for our theories,

Leo is rising and April is "the kid" or lamb.

Here in Southwest Florida, our seasons are nice, hot, hotter and hotter than ---. If March comes in, it is more like a surly cat. Although, the winds do encourage kites now, we don't do extremes in coastal Florida, only hot. It is a changeable month weather wise. No longer do we look-out for cold spells, but we plant warm weather gardens now, when all but lettuce and cruciferous plants flourish.

So, this is more of a folklore than a precise weather predictor.

We have until June to worry about hurricanes; enjoy your outdoor time now. Before the hot heat, prepare your garden. If you are tucking edibles in with your landscape, do not use pesticides or chemicals near them, as you want to be able to eat them.

South Florida is the first stop for many bird species as they wander back from their winter wanderings in the Caribbean and Latin America. It's a long and tiring flight and they need refueling. Some will stay and some move on up northward as the weather permits. Try to provide them with clean water. If you can grow rue, plant it near bird feeders and baths, the smell repels cats and dogs. Be forewarned, some people are sensitive to rue.

Rue grows up to zone 9, so I figure that lets us out of growing it. But if you try, rue is commonly known as Herb of Grace and the Herb of Repentance. It is a favorite in "Old Fashioned Herb Gardens," making a good companion plant as it repels cats and dogs but attract butterflies. A lovely blue-gray lacy leaved plant with a delightful cluster of yellow blossoms.

Originally found in Europe and North Africa, it likes hot, dry conditions and sandy soil. It has a strong, bitter taste which most people dislike, but it can be used in some Mediterranean dishes. It is important in folk lore medicine. Ruta Graveolons is from the Rutacaea plant family.Grows rapidly from seed and is the host plant for giant swallowtail butterflies. It wilts with the frost but re-emerges and regrows. As an old-fashioned herb garden plant, blooming June to September, it makes a good companion plant. Rue was used to purify weapons and standards following a battle. Such versatility. A low, 3 to 4-foot-high hedge is formed from plants planted together, or the leaves can be used in a nosegay.

The big problem comes when the oils combine with the hot sun exposure on the skin, it can cause skin blisters. A good use is to dry it and put into a cloth bag the dried leaves for insect repellent. It was also used as a disinfectant. The Catholic Church used it in their holy water to wash away sins. Hyssop was the choice in the Middle Ages.

Sometimes I can try to grow a zone 9 plant here, and they last a year. Normally, rue is a perennial.

Rue is a noun or a verb, meaning bitterly regret when using it as a word. Don't rue the day you read this.


Just want to alert you all to March in the Park - the Garden Club's fundraiser. Saturday, March 9, at

Jaycee Park our 11th annual plant sale will operate 9 a.m. 3 p.m. There will be local vendors, plants and plus, garden art, opportunity drawings, one of Vickie Taylor's painted rain barrels, food, kids' booth and free workshops. Jaycee Park is at the river end of Beach Parkway, east off Del Prado, at 4125 S.E. 20th Place.

Plan ahead for this event. I'll remind you next week.

Mardi Gras is Tuesday, March 5, for all those observers of New Orlean's happy day. I see green, gold and purple beads in the shops. Last chance to overdo before Ash Wednesday. Lent season will be upon us.

May we be blessed by the trees in our lives. They do so much for us. For every tree chopped down, may we plant at least one.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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