my garden in may

by Sharon Santoni


Of all the months of the year here, I think that May is the most spectacular in my garden.  May is the month I visualise and dream about when planning for the year.  May is the month of colour, and luxuriance, and green everywhere in the valley.

It starts with the irises and the wisteria, then as they fade the first roses start opening, and the month is  rounded up beautifully by the peonies exploding in colour and perfume.  At the same time the self seeded flowers open up, and the delphiniums in pots grow several inches each day, before bursting into blue.

This is when you really don’t want any rain.   The peonies do not like too much water.  We need water for the plants of course, but heavy rain while the peonies are in flower is the best way to cut their short lifespan even shorter.

May is definitely the month when there is the most work to do in the garden.     As well as the flowers blooming, the weeds also launch an aggressive military style attack on the garden, aiming to drown my careful planning in bindweed, dandelions, ground elder and couch grass – SOOOO lovely!

I patiently and stubbornly counter attack, and extract wheelbarrow loads of the weeds.   The only exception being the vegetable garden where I have adopted the no-dig method, and consequently have very few intruders to deal with.

The month of May is generally our first really warm month, when we can start enjoying dinner outside in the evenings.  We are lucky not to be bothered by bugs, and somehow, sitting around the dinner table until late into the night, faces reflected in the gentle light of candles , seems the ideal way to see friends.

In the meantime roses grow heavy with their blooms and need to be held up against the old stone walls with some careful staking, or some discreet wires.    The self-seeders like the Nigella, poppies and foxgloves need to be thinned out, lest they mute from Beauty to Beast.

Is it a lot of work?  Yes.   Does it feel never ending?  Frankly, yes.  At this time of year it truly is never ending.   Is it worth while?  Yes.  A hundred times yes.   Nothing beats the early mornings and late aftertnoons, when the light is at its best, and I can wander barefoot around the garden checking on my plants.

And for you?  How do you feel about May in your garden?  Do you love to tend a large garden, or  do you prefer to have way fewer flowers and enjoy more lawn?


Do tell me please, I’d love to know how you feel about your own garden, and the month of May in particular.



Anne May 23, 2020 - 12:58 am

Yes, my garden is lovely in May too. All the green is so fresh and the roses are at their best. I have plants for other seasons too but May and spring is my favorite. What’s not to love? Thanks for your lovely blog.

Judy Lambert May 23, 2020 - 6:25 pm

This year is all about planning for the fall as I anticipate the completion of our new little home. I must say, I have been missing my beautiful garden from our last home but my creative self is also filled with excitement at the thought of what is to come. Our garden will be attached to our patio and will be fenced to keep the deer in their own space of lushness. Using your no-dig method of garden, our beds will be filled with vegetables and flowers. Reading your blog today, conjured up visions of the iris and peony, together with allium, hostas, and wisteria. I can’t wait!

Cindy Kanakriyeh May 24, 2020 - 10:23 pm

Oh Sharon As I read your words I thought you were talking about my garden…..May is extravagant in my garden as well, but oh so much effort! I feel I could be at it 8 hrs daily. Seeing what needs to be trimmed and repositioned around. Then the battle of the intruders insects, mildew, rut, black spot, the spraying all the efforts but as you say so much reward. With confinement I took on the renewal of my pot aged, which I had left unattended last spring due to travel plans and the constant battle of warding off the wildlife. I feel all my efforts are for the rabbits, raccoons and squirrels. With all the extra time I have found myself facing, I cleared out all of the overgrown mess and renewed the potager armed with more chicken wire and bloodmeal and black pepper, and sheer determination to deter these pesky rascals! (It is fenced but they always mange to find a way to sneak in.) I sometimes feel like I am living in Beatrix Potter’s “ The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and I am Mr. McGreggor chasing the away when they are caught red handed! Well they have gotten to my lettuce patch but we’ll see how the rest of the vegetables survive. Thank you for whisking us away to your bucolic garden in Normandy, such a feast of the senses. I can only imagine the scents….stay well…and happy gardening.‍

Julene May 25, 2020 - 10:43 am

Lots of labor in the spring, but always worth it. Love my peonies, Rose’s, irises, and wisteria didnot weather the winter well!

Lorraine Atherton May 26, 2020 - 3:14 am

My roses have suffered this year due to the kangaroos loving to eat them! I am setting up a “French Provincial” garden in my backyard the kangaroos can’t get too. Can anyone give ideas as to plants for this area. I have Pierre de Ronsard rose on the fence but my Lavender has got straggly so pulled it out. We are into winter here in Western Australia but don’t get frost thankfully.

Karen Azevedo May 23, 2020 - 1:00 am

I love May and all it’s flowers! We have so many colors right now.

EA Lawrence May 23, 2020 - 1:07 am

My garden is not as ahead as yours. Lilac and rhododendrons are going over. Roses, clematis and peonies are just starting to burst. I look forward to each bloom and enjoy picking the first few rosebuds to bring indoors. Mostly I enjoy them outside. Sweet peas are growing sturdily, runner beans planted out and dahlias, although this is a big of a risk! Lifesaving in these times, gives you something to look forward to. We have already cancelled a late June holiday in Normandy☹️, now probably will have to cancel a September holiday in Provence, but, we WILL be back!!

Jennie Murphy May 23, 2020 - 1:36 am

Love your garden your beautiful magazine and all things French!

Beverley Rumble May 23, 2020 - 1:41 am

Your garden is such a glorious delight to me Sharon. We visited France in May a couple of years ago and the most noticeable things to me in the country, not too far from you, were the peace and quiet and the birds. Oh and I mustn’t forget the swathes of pink Hydrangeas.
It’s very different here in Brisbane Australia where we live….heading now into winter, most things have come to a bit of a standstill. T
However, the Camellias are blooming…oh joy…and the Azaleas are soon to appear…more delight. All things tropical are thriving, Bougainvillea, Poinsettias and such. It’s a lovely time to be working in the garden though…weeding (weeds don’t stop for anything….winter grass …yuk), pruning and generally tidying and not sweltering in the heat.
Thank you so much for your beautiful writings….Through them I live in the French countryside, until we can return. Wishing you well.

Marie Batson May 23, 2020 - 1:46 am

I too love the spring time in the gardens but alas I took a bad fall and broke my pelvis and injured my leg so cannot even get out of my house to tend to the outside. I had just planted the seeds and a few bedding plants and now I must try to enjoy them from the inside windows. The David Austin roses are in full bloom, peonies and lilac already spent, and yet to enjoy the nigella and more! I hope the weeds don’t crowd out the vegetables just sprouting up in my vegetable garden before I am healed enuff to get my hands in the dirt again. Thanks for sharing your beauty!

Patti May 23, 2020 - 1:54 am

Your gardens are beautiful and have the flowers that I am now planting in mine. I just moved back to the states, was living in Germany for the past three years, and in the process of converting all my gardens to English/French type gardens. It is so fun. I just love being outdoors and being creative with flowers and plants.

Kathryn Gauci May 23, 2020 - 1:56 am

Fabulous photographs. Inspiring.

Susan Kotapish May 23, 2020 - 1:57 am

May, and spring in general is my favorite season. The grass, trees, and foliage are an electric green that is only present in the springtime. We are quite a bit behind you in our bloom times, especially this year. We had snow the second week of May and have had unusually rainy weather. For all gardeners, hope springs eternal and we are looking anxiously toward June. I am from northern Ohio in the US

Sue May 23, 2020 - 2:23 am

Fabulous garden, here is So California we are past the wisteria and early bloomers and onto the roses and my hydrangeas are starting to flower..Spring is my favorite season, and especially right now brings a lot of joy:)

Teresa Phillips May 23, 2020 - 5:59 pm

May is a breathtaking month for sure but here in Canada we’re behind you. Although I’m mourning the glorious tulips, daffs and apple blossoms, I thrust my nose into the first rugosas and pineapple scented irises yesterday. Wild bees abound, birds are singing and nesting. Hummingbirds and butterflies are jewels in the air I stumble after, distracting me from planting out the first tomatoes and squash.

mary May 23, 2020 - 2:34 am

lots of beautiful reruns, what thrills. my husband did all the garden work and i think loved doing it. i loved telling him what to do. many memories. thanks

Yvonne Vandenbrink May 23, 2020 - 2:54 am

So beautiful-thanks Sharon. I have hundreds of Lily of the Valley in my garden. The fragrance is intoxicating especially after a gentle spring rain followed by the warmth of the sun. Love your Blog!

Judy Feyen May 23, 2020 - 3:29 am

Sharon, thank you for sharing your gardens. I always look forward to your lovely photos. Here in south west Michigan, our gardens are very green, with our pink dogwood and lilacs just beginning to bloom. Our peonies are still in their bud stage, just waiting for the warmer weather that is expected next week. May is my month of getting everything planted and transplanted in anticipation of all the flowering plants bursting into bloom in the month of June.

Janet May 23, 2020 - 4:00 am

I am more of a vegetable gardener and right now beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, kohlrabi, kale and Asian greens are plentiful. The end of June tend to be the best time for me with all of the summer vegetables, especially my heirloom tomatoes grown from seed. In recent years, I have been getting more into flowers, but mostly annuals like cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers. I do have a few perennials like yarrow, bee balm and anise hyssop. I just recently planted peonies and hydrangeas. What I love most about May here is the smell of all the wild things that grow around us like jasmine, honeysuckle, white clover, privet and blackberries. I wish I could bottle it.

Marianne C. Spano Whitman May 23, 2020 - 4:28 am

Hello dear Sharon, your garden is lovely and so is your table setting with all the small candles, like fireflies. Warm and lovely. You are so talented. Here in the Staten Island, N.Y. area, I still wait for real Spring, haha. The lawns are green, the rises in Front,.English roses, and in back Some English and some tea are growing, well, but onlynone in back has huge rose, Queen Elizabeth rose, in front patiently waiting for David Austin’s roses to bloom, especially Graham Thomas And tea rose Tiffany, so beautiful. My grandma’s old peony hascone bud, only do far, waiting for the lilacs and rhodo and need to plant a clematis in front.
In the back I have 4 of my grandma Seraphina hydrangeas which she gave to me around 1972, were 3 at that time, we had just moved here 3vyears earlier, had one 2 year old and one infant, did not get into garden much. Her beautiful hydrangeas have flourished, given me 3 new shrubs over the years, all beautiful, Inalso grow Nikko Blue planted in memory of one of my beloved Siamese loves, Niko, and that had a baby but blooms pink, no matter what I do. I have irises, lily of the valley which I love love, coreopsis, some evergreens, just got some tomato plants in today as too chilly here to do before, and much else. But slow to start this year. And plants so hard to find because of this devastating virus. I underwent an aortic aneurysm emergency surgery two and a half years ago, had only 20 to 30 minutes left to live, bleeding in chest and barely any blood pressure. Hubby dragged me to ER that day as I didn’tbknowvwhatvwascwrong weekmprior, coughing, but afraid to go hospital. Painful, recovery was hard, very hard, still trying to get stronger, not young so may not happen, but gardening is in my heart and soul. I always hope each season that my grandma can see her beautiful hydrangeas blooming pink, sone with a touch of lavender if I fooled with their fertilizer, and smile if she sees how I have cared for them. They are so very old now, please stay well and pray we recover from this devastating virus. Sincerely, Marianne

Susan N May 23, 2020 - 6:54 am

Sharon, your gardens are beautiful, and your lovely home.
My Louisiana Iris have bloomed already here in Texas, my Formosa azaleas put on their fabulous show early this year, well before Easter, the agapanthus are in full bloom now and the blue plumbago are starting to bloom as our temperature heats up. I’ve been planting more lantana, salvia, and begonias, trying a white begonia this year, and enjoying the blooms of my dragonwing begonias that do so well here in our long summers. My knockout roses are sprouting new growth, the Vitex is putting on its beautiful purple show, the Natchez crepe myrtles will soon bloom followed by the watermelon red and pink I have in other areas of my garden. I have been adding the white, pink, and purple Angelonia around the yard, they have a country garden feel and thrive here.
I am so thankful to have a beautiful yard to enjoy! Thank you for sharing yours with your readers.

Jackie Schoppert May 23, 2020 - 9:45 am

The photos of your garden evokes images of a gentle time in the country. Plants continue to grow in spite of world conditions.

The first week in May I was at my garden box, turning the soil over once the cover was removed. Last September I amended the clay like soil, dug trenches to add compost to help add nutrition for this year.

Gardening in Anchorage, Alaska has challenges: keeping the moose and bear out, checking the soil temperature along with checking for any insect eggs. So the first few weeks of May are the busy time of getting ready to transplant once the soil is warm enough. I prefer the square foot garden method that works well in the garden boxes assigned to me. I live in a huge retirement complex that has garden beds available.
One garden bed will be devoted to flowers. The other two are vegetables. Eleven butternut and six baby pumpkins are now all planted. The majority of squash and pumpkins were to have been picked up. Because of the Lockdown, all those seedlings are now in my garden.

In all my trips to France, I’ve taken time to admire the vegetation. Friends in Saint Meloir des Ondes and Albi have beautiful gardens. My trip for April was cancelled because I’d the pandemic.

It has been a joy to read your blog. The photos are a wonderful addition. It’s almost like being there.
I so enjoy being included.

Taste of France May 23, 2020 - 10:34 am

I have noticed that one thing that has gone by the wayside during the pandemic is public planting. At least our mairie hasn’t filled the planters along the main street. So I made some cuttings from my garden, pulled the weeds out of the planter near my house and planted some hardy plants (in case the watering system stays shut off). They are going gangbusters!

Jue May 23, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Thanks for your love of beauty and sharing it with us!

Rhonda Reeves May 23, 2020 - 4:18 pm

I have said it for many years–May is the best time in my garden as well–and I work to get better summer and fall showings but it just doesn’t compare. I was just out with my camera (early morning with coffee cup in hand) and making mental notes of where I need to attack the weeds this weekend. My zinnias and purple hyacinth beans are popping out of the ground and I’m trying Sweet Peas this year too, Its a lot of work but, as you say, well worth it when I can have fresh arrangements in my home from my own garden and fresh herbs for cooking too. Hoping I will be in your lovely country later this year!

Allie Callan May 23, 2020 - 4:36 pm

Thank you for your continued inspiration In
Southern Connecticut it is glorious! Leaves are out along with the Lilacs, Iris, and Azaleas! Going for a walk in my town is extremely up lifting. Roses are in June so much to look forward to!

Gay McCormick May 23, 2020 - 5:11 pm

Your May garden is beautiful.
mine is totally different. I am in South Africa, (Southern Hemisphere) and my May garden is autumn, with some flushes of flowers, before they go to sleep for winter. The trees are fast losing their leaves, the bulbs are beginning to show green tips. However, we do have a wonderful african show of Aloes and tecoma, and delicious blue blue skies.

Janet Blumenshine May 23, 2020 - 11:14 pm

My garden and your blog are my happy places this time of year. Have always loved France as my husband’s mother was from France. We spent a month all over France for our 50th anniversary and it will be our 60th in June. We have so many reminders of France from my mother-in-law so reading your blog brings me back to those happy French times. Yes, this May my small garden has been especially pretty….foxglove, peonies, poppies, salvia, forget-me-nots. primrose. We have had a lot of rain which makes everything very green but does do a number on the peonies. Thanks for sharing your joys of gardening with us.

Susan Radovich May 23, 2020 - 11:33 pm

May and June are beautiful in our garden. We have had one of the wettest Mays here in the Chicago area. We have very sandy soil and many mature Oak trees so it has actually been good for our yard. The azaleas are still blooming and the rhododendrons are just now opening ( the PJM rhododendrons were lovely). Yes, the weeds are also giving us a workout as well, but it is so lush it is worth every minute. Lily of the Valley, Creeping Phlox, and ferns are unfurling. The Virginia Bluebells are now fading., but the Alliums are blooming in their place. I love the way nature replaces one faded beauty with another to delight the senses. Thank you for sharing your lovely garden with us.

Marsha Scott May 24, 2020 - 8:01 pm

I haven’t commented in so long, please forgive me, dear Sharon. Life in Houston has been difficult of late, with the virus lockdown in the city, it looks completely deserted, but we’ve re-opened about half way now so I’m hoping !!! I check out everything just for the visuals you post. Always beautiful, always interesting. Sending a hug across the pond. Marsha

Barbara Chapman May 25, 2020 - 6:00 am

Your garden is gorgeous!!! May is a lovely month for gardens and in Texas mine has been good this year. Baby peonies came back up and are growing tall. Roses were beautiful and are putting out buds again. Been working on garden design and brick paths.

Enjoy your spring!

The Rambling Rose for Your Home & Garden – The Simply Luxurious Life® May 28, 2020 - 4:00 am

[…] roses as they offer ramblers that can produce multiple blooms throughout a summer. If you follow Sharon Santoni, you know she also have a rambling rose from David Austin on her side building which is […]

Kathryn Weir June 2, 2020 - 4:40 am

Here in New Zealand we have had the last few months of intense blue skies and delicious Autumn days. The evergreen bush continues in all its many shades of green and the exotic European trees are in the last stages of bright foliage. My dahlias are nearly all died down. I don’t lift them because it never gets too cold or wet for them to overwinter successfully. My roses have a few blooms and I am ignoring them until pruning time in July. I have ranunculas up and daffodils popping poking through which seems a bit early but I am glad of their company. The lavender never quits and my bees love to be out on the bushes any day it is fine and warm. The hebes and the tree lucerne is blooming. Soon I will do the winter clean up around the roses and finally cut the perennials back. Autumn is glorious.


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