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What is "The Mother's Day Rule"?

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What is "The Mother's Day Rule"?

Mother’s Day has ties to the gardening world, and it’s not just the lovely flowers!

A year after her mother’s death in 1906, loving daughter, Anna M. Jarvis, requested that friends and neighbors commemorate her mother’s passing at her local church on the first Sunday of May. Anna handed out over 500 hundred white carnations to the mothers in her community—white carnations being her mother’s favorite flower. Carnations have since become synonymous with Mother’s Day. A white carnation is a symbol of unconditional love and a pink carnation is that of a Mother’s love.

In the following years, Anna promoted the holiday by writing to her local city leaders, churches across the nation, and politicians. She even recruited Henry J. Heinz (yes, the man behind Heinz Ketchup) to help her movement gain national attention. By 1914, the second Sunday in May would be declared an annual national observance for Mother’s day.

Although Anna M. Jarvis grew resentful over Mother’s Day due to the eventual over commercialization, the holiday has become a beacon of gratitude for our mothers—and for mother nature. You see, the second Sunday in May marks a time in spring when all threat of frost has passed—for most zones across the US. There are certainly exceptions, Northern Minnesota being one, the last frost date averaging about mid-May.

Gardening folklore developed around Mother’s Day, as it coincides with the passing of the last frost for the year. Gardeners saw it as a marker for the true beginning of the warm growing season. The Mother’s Day Rule (as it is sometimes referred to) is the rule that it is safe to start growing your tender seedlings outdoors—that mother nature’s nurturing Spring is in full swing. Whether you are growing vegetable, flower, and/or herb seed, the days post-Mother's Day are ideal for growth.

So get out there and sow seeds with Mom this Mother’s Day. Or if you have seedlings started indoors, starting hardening them off around that date. Happy Planting!

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