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March is the Month of Expectation

Red MapleAuthor: Erica Dahlgren, Director of Interpretation

How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the appearance of the first tiny leaves on the trees, or the first daffodils peeping through the snow? Every year, we patiently look for the first signs of spring at Belle Meade – leaves budding, birds chirping, and flowers blooming. Warming temperatures have sprung open the flower buds of red maples, one of the first trees to bloom as winter fades. Each bud unfolds about half a dozen tiny, dark-red blossoms, each shaped like a wee tulip. Although most red maples bear either exclusively male or female flowers, some trees produce both and the ratio can be highly variable from year to year. Red maples yield a sap as sweet and flavorful as that of a sugar maple. However, now that the first signs of spring are here, the window for making red maple syrup has passed: Once the tree “breaks bud,” the sap’s chemistry changes, imparting an unpleasant taste to the syrup.


DaffodilsDaffodils, Narcissus, March blooms…these names all refer to the flower that comes back every spring on roadsides, hills, and flower gardens over a large part of the Northern Hemisphere. They are a part of the Amaryllis family, and many types grow wild. The Latin name for a wild daffodil is Narcissus pseudonarcissus. The naming of this flower is frequently linked to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who was considered to be so obsessed with his own reflection that he died while gazing at himself in a pool of water.  From the location of his death sprang the narcissus plant.  Few plants seem to signify the freshness of Spring quite as well as daffodils.




HoneysuckleLonicera fragrantissima, or winter honeysuckle, is a large deciduous bush with a delightful, strong fragrance. The nectar in the creamy white flowers attracts many bees, but the fruit of the winter honeysuckle is toxic. Honeysuckle is also one of the species that the USA National Phenology Network uses to calculate the coming of Spring. This species was selected because it, along with lilacs, are among the first woody plants to leaf out and bloom in the springtime and are common across much of the country.





Lenten RoseGerman planters began cultivating the Lenten rose in the mid-1800s, followed by varieties created in the United Kingdom. The common name of this plant is inspired by its flowering time. It often blossoms during the season of Lent– a wintry season of contemplation, spiritual focus, and petition – the Lenten rose is an emblem of the newness of Spring, rebirth, and rejuvenation.





 March is the Month of Expectation


by Emily Dickinson


March is the Month of Expectation.

The things we do not know—

The Persons of prognostication

Are coming now—

We try to show becoming firmness—

But pompous Joy

Betrays us, as his first Betrothal

Betrays a Boy.


Raven, S. (2021, February 01). A brief history of daffodils. Retrieved from

Status of Spring. (2021). Https://Www.Usanpn.Org/News/Spring.

George A. Petrides, A Field Guide to Eastern Trees (Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998), 203.