Many gardeners have their eyes riveted on their calendar, fearing the famous period known as the Ice Saints because of possible damage to the ornamental garden, the orchard and the vegetable patch. This is not new, the invocation of these saints dating back to the High Middle Ages. A proven meteorological fact for some, calembredaine for others, this period marked by the return of frosts despite the mild weather must be anticipated in order to properly organize your plantations. Let’s see when exactly this period takes place, which still makes many horticulturists, market gardeners and amateur gardeners tremble, and let’s shine a spotlight on the advice of the pros.
Ice Saints 2023 Dates
Every year, May 11, 12 and 13 are those key days linked to the Red Moon during which the risk of morning frosts are considered important and it is feared that they will seriously harm freshly planted plants in the ground. The Ice Saints therefore correspond to this particular climatological period which had been pointed out from the High Middle Ages and which turned out to be particularly cold in the 6th century.
These patron saints, celebrated in May, were Saint Mamert (May 11), Saint Pancrace (May 12) and Saint Servais (May 13). But in some countries, other saints were added to this list such as Saint Boniface (May 14) or even 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 whether we consider them nonsense from another time, we must however recognize that all gardening advice takes them into account, even if we are far to experience devastating frosts each year in May in most of our regions.
Ice Saints and gardening
With the return of sunny days, we are in a hurry to finally be able to plant all over the place. But you have to take into account the whims of the weather so as not to jeopardize part of its plantations. Experienced gardeners – and no doubt scalded by a few late frosts – recommend letting the Ice Saints pass in certain cases since these three days close the cold period. Their valuable advice is as follows.
Possible plantations before the Ice Saints
All the frost-resistant 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 a few small white frosts.
However, you have to be ready to draw a winter sail if by chance the cold should rage in May. mini greenhouse, cloche, mulching of dead leaves to be deposited at the foot of fresh plantations, are as many protection to be provided. We also keep a place in a frost-free room, brightto urgently store seedlings as needed.
So better not to rush and install only hardy perennials et non chilly shrubs such as :
- perennial geranium,
- variegated holly,
- Cherry blossom…
It can be noted that in the South of the Loire one makes run less risks with its plantations than in the areas of North.
Plantations preferable after Ice Saints
We are waiting for second half of Mayeven a little longer still in regions with a harsh climate, to finally plant the most chilly plants such as :
- Citrus fruits (lemon tree, orange tree, mandarin tree and others),
- Strelitzia (bird of paradise),
Even if we don’t want to give in to the European popular beliefit is still wiser to follow the advice of gardening experts, that is to say avoid sowing too early, or before the Ice Saints, at the risk of having to start all over again. ” Before Saint Mamert no summer, after Saint Servais no more frost. “. On good terms…