my may garden

by Sharon Santoni

Oh my goodness where to start! After the dampest spring I can remember, I was feeling pessimistic about the May garden this year … I was foolish! I forgot that gardens LOVE the rain and as a result, we have the most colorful and most fragrant May garden since we’ve been here.

I planted a large number of irises last year, and it’s been lovely to see them all bloom for the first time. Spectacular in size and in color, some very fragrant, others less so. The advantage of planting multiple varieties of irises is that the flowering season is prolonged. The first irises bloomed in early April, and six weeks later, we still have the later hybrids unfurling their colored beards.

The roses this year are on steroids! We have planted a good number of climbing roses over the past three years, and they were slow to take off, but this seems to be their moment, and I’m looking forward to seeing how long their flowering season will last. I love how these two varieties (Sophie Louise and James Galway) intertwine against the barn wall.

I don’t have a greenhouse yet, maybe next year. I have tried sowing seeds indoors and planting them out, but the results are rarely satisfactory. The only seeds I have sown this year, are cosmos, sunflowers, and zinnia that can be dropped in the ground where I’d like them to grow. They make great fillers for the borders and are particularly good in those summer months when the first flush of flowers is behind us.

And then of course we have the dahlias. Most of our dahlias were left in the ground this year, and we were very lucky to have a mild winter. I think I lost about half a dozen, out of about 60 tubers left to overwinter. The loss was worth it for the time and effort gained by not having to dig them up, store, and replant them this spring. Those that we did dig up have been divided and popped into beds or into pots that we’ll enjoy on the terrace later in the year.

Finally the potager. Having said proudly for years that I’m not bothered by slugs, this wet spring has made a liar of me! The slugs of Normandy have now found my address, and are devouring the peas and beans as quickly as they sprout. I’m advised to go on night patrol, which does not tempt me. I don’t want to use slug pellets because they are dangerous for our pups. I’m resorting to saucers of beer, which may in turn lead to drunk hedgehogs, but I guess that is what you would call a First World Problem.

I’d love to hear what you have going on in your garden right now, whether you are in the southern hemisphere and heading into the autumn, or way up north and still in the spring. Please let me know!


Vicky from Athens May 30, 2024 - 9:12 pm

What a slice of heaven your garden is ! I can almost get a whiff of the fragrances all the way over here in N.Georgia. I’d love to know the name of that pale lavender rose … is so sweet and dainty. Unfortunately I have to be very careful with what I plant because of the deer … wire cages around roses and other things they like to eat. Not to mention having to protect all tree trunks from the bucks and their antlers.
Thanks for the glimpse of your beautiful garden!

Sharon Santoni May 31, 2024 - 12:10 pm

We are very lucky here to have a walled garden. There are deer in the nearby forest, but in all the years we’ve been here I’ve only seen one venture into the village!

KATHERINE CERVANTES May 31, 2024 - 4:09 pm

Thank you sharing for sharing your beautiful garden with us I’ve never been to France I’m in Oro Valley Arizona long distance beautiful garden thank you once again

Ann-Maree May 30, 2024 - 11:57 pm

Autumn here but winter starts tomorrow! It’s been a beautiful autumn season of fine sunny days with crisp air. Bulbs are planted and sleeping on their pots. Tulips, hyacinth and daffodils under the trees which have lost their leaves so the ground will catch the warmth. Leeks and a few wintergreens for optimism. Now waiting. Waiting.

Sharon Santoni May 31, 2024 - 12:10 pm

I love the autumn season! The change of light, and the different color palette in the garden is a joy!

E. Kuhr May 31, 2024 - 10:15 pm

I have hungry deer in my front garden daily. My solution is to haunt thrift stores for tall bird cages with removable bottoms, wine bottle towers or damaged lamp shades, strip the wire skeletons of any fabric, spray paint wire flat black, cover with chicken wire shaped to fit that has been sprayed same black (easiest when rolled up in tight roll) and place over growing plants. Black helps wires disappear from view and keeps deer from eating your plants. They can’t get into nibble them.
Alternately I shop second hand stores for medium to large wire baskets, spray them with flat black paint, line them with living moss from wilderness, add good potting soil, plant colourful long blooming basket stuffers, (red/pink geraniums, blue trailing lobelia, yellow pansies in Spring, marigolds in Summer, and white fillers) hang them from lower branches of small trees with black chains or rope. They should be 3-4 ft off ground and in sunshine and easily watered. Deer ignore or don’t see them over their heads and if you do same plants all across your garden it provides a pleasing hit of bright colours in a repeat pattern. After three weeks moss grows tiny wild plants and it looks wonderful all summer. Keep them watered and use a slow release fertilizer.

Lorraine Atherton May 31, 2024 - 2:13 am

Lovely to see your beautiful garden. I can only laugh about my roses that have been completely denuded of leaves and flowers by the kangaroos.

Sharon Santoni May 31, 2024 - 12:11 pm

Kangaroos! Oh my goodness, can’t get my head around that idea!

k May 31, 2024 - 2:37 am

How uplifting. Good for the soul.

Debbie Williams May 31, 2024 - 5:31 am

I loved seeing your garden. I am in Northern California so my many roses are amazing this spring. We have also had lots of much needed rain. Slugs..,. I do slug patrol in the mornings when I take the dog out…. but I saw a tip on Instagram about putting a thick board on the ground near their favorites. The next day they will be under the board and you can scoop them up! I will try it and see if it works.

Cindy Beard May 31, 2024 - 4:30 am

We are also having a gorgeous spring. I have been so exhausted everyday from gardening and it is a good feeling. Your garden is so
lovely. I am a rose lover too. Thanks for sharing ♥️

Nadene May 31, 2024 - 6:45 am

Love your roses against the wall. Im in South Africa and have a rose that I have been struggling to find online because I took a cutting from my mum and she knows nothing of the name or type that it is, but I think it the one you have, called Sophie! Looks so similar and if it is then im so glad I finally found it.
Your garden is gorgeous and so happy, seems to have loved the rain.

Lynda Biggs May 31, 2024 - 9:00 am

Hello Sharon, Lynda here in E Anglia UK. As I write this the wind is howling rain pouring and I have put the heating on!
My roses are being lashed by the rain and the garden is a jungle but I like to think a managed one.
Every morning without fail in my dressingown I put my wellies on and walk the garden to see what is blooming….however not today.
My rose Cecile Brunner is flowering at present, a cutting from my house in France, tiny pale pink rosebuds, probably not large enough for the scale of your garden.
As for slugs I read that a circle of porridge oats around the plants deters them. Worth a try.

Rita May 31, 2024 - 2:27 pm

The roses are beautiful, all of your garden is. Winter tomorrow and I already have some daffodils, which are brightening the garden, I don’t know if it’s my imagination, they seem to arrive earlier and earlier. Planted tulips weeks ago and some already have shot up their green stem, others are yet to show.

Patricia Cowan June 4, 2024 - 3:41 pm

SLUGS…to get rid of them, use a tuna or cat food can pushed in level with soil throughout infested area. Fill to top with stale/flat beer, next morning you will find the little pesky drunkards in the can of beer. Has worked for years. Also, cut up human hair very fine and sprinkle at base of plants, works to slice delicate underbody.

Ulrike June 1, 2024 - 1:36 am

Your garden is so beautiful, and I enjoy looking at all the pictures. We moved from Northeast Georgia (USA) to South Carolina close to the lake last fall. So, I am starting from scratch again. However, when we moved I brought all of my roses and about 20 hydrangeas (the place was being bulldozed so I was able to take what I wanted) plus all my hostas. Never had a problem in Georgia that I could see with slugs and snails, but they seem to make up for that here in South Carolina! Even though an hour away from our old home it is still different here with more clay in the soil. So I wish I could say I’m looking at a lovely garden but instead I’m looking at weeds, and the flower bed I just finished weeding, mulching, planting, etc.. I will just sigh and enjoy looking at yours, and say to myself there is always next year.

Michele June 1, 2024 - 2:39 am

Here in Niagara falls, Ontario we are having a beautiful spring after an extremely mild winter. We have had our share of rain over the last few weeks the plants are loving it. Everything is so lush and green. Such an exciting to of year.

lori everett June 1, 2024 - 4:22 am

Hello All, I am in northeastern Ohio where we are having an unusual early summer with extra extra rain. Everything is blooming early but beautifully. Several perennials are already finished, but at this moment, I have a long row of beautiful soft creamy perennial yellow nodding foxgloves just beginning to open, a climbing dark purple bell flowered clematis called Rogucci next to a prolific blooming very pink zepherine climbing rose. I have a few large clusters of soft lavender phlox near clusters of bright yellow oenothera primroses. In another garden there are verry blue blue belladona delphiniums next to periwinkle low clusters of bee balm monarda. There are tall clusters of white fragrant valerian at the very back of the gardens that have been blooming for weeks. , I have two types of salvias that have unusually long bloom time, ‘evening attire’ is a very deep purple cluster, and the other is ‘bumbleberry’, which is an intense fuschia. In the prairie area, a large cluster of filipendula is now in bloom with several large fluffy pink clustered blossoms. Many more areas will come into bloom as temperatures begin to heat up. I spend all summer anticipating and then enjoying the multiple cycles of bloom.


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