In New Mexico, the month of March feels like spring. People begin to walk around in short sleeve shirts. Daffodils and crocus begin to bloom in gardens. The day lengthens and the sun warms the earth. Like a garden, the whole world begins to burst forth with new life.
As we walk in the canyons, one of first signs spring is finding male catkins on willows of the area. The catkins suddenly seem to burst forth on the wintering twigs. Before the catkins come into full maturity these male flowers are covered in fine, greyish hairs. This has led to a fancied likeness to tiny kittens, thus the name “pussy willows”. The catkins appear long before the leaves, and are one of the earliest signs of spring.
Other signs remind us winter is coming to an end and spring is here. As we walk along trails in the ponderosa pine we may spy a beautiful pasque flower emerging from a cluster of feathery leaves. On a stroll along the rim of White Rock Canyon or in the piñon-juniper woodland we will find the white Easter daisy hugging close to the ground. When we see these flowers, we know spring has sprung.
To view some of the spring flowers and shrubs found in the Jemez Mountains, please click on the link below. This is a portion of a talk given at the Master Gardeners March 6, in Los Alamos. Please enjoy.