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A spot of spring

As they loaded their second cart of Emerald Colonnade holly and kaleidoscope abelia, Les Nimmo and Janine Salvatti brimmed with excitement.

Recent warm weather brought them to Southern Oregon Nursery Saturday for foundation plants and shrubbery, saying it's the right time for replacing old landscaping at the Medford home they'd moved into last summer.

Salvatti said she's been on the lookout for wildlife-friendly, yet deer-resistant plants. She said she's looking forward to seeing bees flock to her abelia plants, which bloom in the springtime.

But the current window of spring sunshine may be open only briefly, according to meteorologist Brad Schaaf with the National Weather Service. The outlook calls for sun and warm temperatures that could climb up to the low 70s in the early part of the week, followed by a return to a weather pattern that's been more familiar recently.

"We're looking to hit 70 by Monday," Schaaf said, noting that the last time the Medford area recorded a 70-degree temperature was Oct. 26.

Tuesday, however, is forecast to be the last day of warm temperatures in the outlook.

“It looks like it’s just a brief break of spring weather before we go back to a wetter and cooler pattern,” Schaaf said. “Mother Nature gives, Mother Nature takes away.”

Southern Oregon Nursery owner Dieter Trost said he has customers who swear that planting potatoes on St. Patrick's Day is good luck, but there's a chance those customers will be planting in the rain. Trost said he staggers the planting of root vegetables by one or two weeks, if only so the harvest times vary.

A weather front is expected to bring cooler temperatures and a chance of rain in the later part of the week, about Wednesday or Thursday, according to Schaaf. That's become an all-too-familiar pattern for the Rogue Valley, which has recorded 21.04 inches of rain since the water year began Oct. 1, already exceeding the average annual rainfall of 18.35 inches, with more than six months to go in the year.

Schaaf said there's little chance of frost by Thursday, though lows are slated to drop by the end of the week down to the mid-30s by the end of the week.

"The winds may be too strong for frost to form," Schaaf said.

The chance of rain on Tuesday is slight, Schaaf said, but will grow as the week goes on. Highs will drop down to the low 50s by Saturday.

The springlike weather that arrived Friday has meant he's sold plenty of heather, daphne and forsythia, Trost said.

Trost recommends people hold off on planting tender annuals until mid-May, adding that he's seen marigolds stocked at chain stores that he wouldn't recommend planting yet. He also recommends gardeners start their tomatoes indoors.

For those still looking to take advantage of the sunshine, there's plenty that's ready to go in the ground, according to Trost, including root vegetables such as potatoes and onions, cold crops, radishes, shrubs along with other leafy plants such as strawberries.

"Just about everything's starting to move," Trost said.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Medford residents Janine Salvatti and Les Nimmo take advantage of warmer weather to shop for spring plants Saturday at Southern Oregon Nursery. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]