May Almanac

By Ash Alder

The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.— Edwin Way Teale

May and the heart sings of somersaults, cartwheels across the lawn, dandelions tucked behind the ears of children. 

May is a month of sweetness.

The pick-your-own-strawberries, soft-spring-rain, butterflies-in-the-garden kind of sweetness.

And magnolia-blossoms-for-Mama.

In the garden: snow peas, fennel, broccoli, kale.

In the kitchen: bearded iris in a pail.

May is a month for sweethearts — and dancing.

Dancing round maypoles, dancing round in circles, dancing round the Beltane fire.

The first maypoles were made of hawthorn, a mystical tree which the ancient Celts believed could heal a broken heart.

Breathe in spring and feel your heart somersault, hopscotch, send a flurry of dandelion seeds whirling as it cartwheels through a field of sweetness.

Gifts for Mama

Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 13. I think of the hundred-year-old ferns in my grandmother’s sunroom, the ones that belonged to her florist mother, and how love, when nurtured, grows and grows.

A few seeds of inspiration for the beloved matriarch in your life:

Sprig of dogwood.

Pickled magnolia petals.

Lemon basil.

Bulbs for the garden: dahlias,
      wild ginger,

climbing lily.

Stepping stones.

Wildflower crown.

Peach, pear or nectarine tree.

Basketful of dandelion (for wine).

Eternal love.

The Full Flower Moon rises on Tuesday, May 29. Also called Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon and Corn Planting Moon, this month’s moon illuminates the whitetail fawns, wide-eyed owlets, wildflowers everywhere.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the best days for planting above-ground crops this month are May 18, 19, and 26–28. Plant below-ground crops May 9 or 10.

Plan now for July sweet corn on the grill.

Pickled Magnolia Flowers

Try this to add a side of whimsy to your spring salad.


One pound fresh young magnolia flowers

1 1/2 cups rice vinegar

One cup of sugar

One teaspoon of salt


Wash and dry petals, then put them in a sterilized jar with salt.

Mix rice vinegar and sugar in pan, then bring to boil.

Pour hot vinegar and sugar mixture over flowers. Allow to cool, then cap the jar.

Spring — an experience in immortality. — Henry D. Thoreau

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