May Garden in the Northern Hemisphere

Is May the most beautiful month of the year in the northern hemisphere?

Well, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful months. The snow and ice are gone and the heat of summer has not yet arrived.

Wild flowers are in bloom everywhere and the garden is either moving towards its spring peak or well underway.

May was the third month of the year until Julius Caeser made it the fifth month. May has always had 31 days.

In ancient Roman, May arrived at a time that was sacred to Flora, the goddess of floweres. The Romans celebrated the first of May with flower-strewn parades. May is believed by some to be named after Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth.

In old England the first day of May was celebrated with Maypoles. Children gathered “Mayflowers” or hawthorn blossoms to trim the Maypole, and little girls dressed in their best to win the title May queen.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in May. You will find that most birds have built their nests by now, and mother birds are sitting on their eggs awaiting the new arrivals.

Here is a list of vegetables and fruits ready for harvest in the northern hemisphere during May:

Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrot, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, snow peas, purslane, Swiss chard, spinach, zucchini.

Fruits: early apricots, early cherries, grapefruit, lemons, limes, loquats, oranges, ealry nectarines, early peaches, raspberries, strawberries.

Here is a planting list for May in the northern hemisphere:

Cool northern regions—Zones 3-6. Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard (silverbeet), cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, okra, spring onion, parsnip, potato tubers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swedes), salsify, Swiss chard (silverbeet), spinach, squash, sweet corn, tomato, zucchini. Herbs: basil, boarage, caraway, celeriac, chamomile, chervil, chives, coriander, hyssop, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, salad burnet, thyme.

Temperate Regions—Zones 7-9. Vegetables: beans, beets (beetroot), cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, chard (silverbeet), chicory, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, peas, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini. Herbs: basil, borage, caraway, celeriac, chamomile, chervil, chicory, chilli, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, hyssop, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, salad burnet, thyme.

Subtropical and Tropical Regions—Zones 10-12. Vegetables: beans, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, parsnip, peas, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crowns, Swiss chard (silverbeet), spring onion, squash, strawberry runners, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini. Herbs: borage, caraway, celeriac.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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  1. This bearded iris is in my garden and it was there when I came to the garden. The woman who had the garden before me was a beared iris collector and she left many irises when she left. So this iris if it is named must be 20 years old. A more recent iris hybrid that looks very similar to this one is named “Keizer’s Heritage.” Here is a link to a seller of Keizer’s Heritage

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