Ice Saints: dates and gardening tips


Many gardeners have their eyes riveted on their calendar, fearing the famous period known as the Ice Saints due to possible damage to the ornamental garden, orchard and vegetable patch. It does not date from yesterday, the invocation of these saints going back to the High Middle Ages. A meteorological fact that has been proven for some, and a nightmare for others, this period marked by the return of frosts despite the warmth must be anticipated in order to properly organize your plantings. Let’s see exactly when this period, which still shakes many horticulturalists, market gardeners and amateur gardeners, takes place, and let’s put the spotlight on the advice of the pros.

Ice Saints Dates

Every year, May 11, 12 and 13 are these key days linked to the red moon during which the risk of morning frost are considered important and are feared to significantly affect freshly planted field crops. The ice saints therefore correspond to this particular climatological period which had been pointed out as early as the High Middle Ages and which proved particularly cold in the 6th century.

These patrons, celebrated in May, were Saint Mamert (May 11), Saint Pancrace (May 12) and Saint Servais (May 13). But in certain regions, other saints were added to this list such as Saint Boniface (May 14) or in Moselle and Alsace, for example Sainte Sophie (May 15). Today, even if May 11, 12 and 13 remain under the watchful eye of gardeners, due to the evolution of calendars, the current ice saints are Sainte Estelle, Saint Achille and Sainte Rolande …

Whether we garden without losing sight of the Ice Saints or consider them to be nonsense from another time, we must however recognize that all gardening tips take them into account, even if we are far away. to meet devastating frosts every year in May in most of our regions.

Ice Saints and gardening

With the return of sunny days, we are in a rather hurry to finally be able to plant in all directions. But we must take into account vagaries of the weather so as not to endanger part of its plantations. The experienced gardeners – and undoubtedly scalded by some late frosts – recommend letting the Ice Saints pass in certain cases since these three days end the period of cold. Their valuable advice is as follows.

Plantations possible before the Ice Saints

All non-freezing plants can be installed in the ground without having to wait for the Ice Saints to pass. Ornamental plants, vegetable plants, trees and shrubs of all kinds are the least fragile, and can possibly tolerate some small hoar frosts.

However, you must be prepared to draw a wintering veil if by chance the cold were to rage in May. Mini greenhouse, Bell, mulching of dead leaves to be placed at the foot of fresh plantations, are as many protections to provide. We also keep a place in a frost-free room, bright, for emergency storage of seedlings as soon as needed.

Better not to rush and only install hardy perennials and non-chilly shrubs such as :

  • Perennial Geranium,
  • Primrose,
  • Thought,
  • Hellebore,
  • Catnip,
  • Rosebush,
  • Heather,
  • Variegated holly,
  • Cotoneaster,
  • Forsythia,
  • Mimosa,
  • Boxwood,
  • Cherry blossom …

It can be noted that in the south of the Loire we run fewer risks to its plantations than in the northern regions.

Plantations preferable after Ice Saints

We are waiting for the second half of May, even a little longer in regions with a harsh climate, to finally plant the most chilly plants such as :

  • Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, mandarin and others),
  • Basil,
  • Coriander,
  • Eggplant,
  • Courgette,
  • Tomato,
  • Pepper,
  • Petunia,
  • Impatiens,
  • Begonia,
  • Strelitzia (bird of paradise),
  • Bougainvillea …

Even if we don’t want to give in to European popular belief, it is still wiser to follow the advice of experts in gardening, that is to say avoid sowing too early, either before the Ice Saints, at the risk of having to start all over again. ” Before Saint Mamert summer point, after Saint Servais no more jelly. “. To the best of my mind …

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