The Ice Saints and the Red Moon

At last  –  after a couple of false starts when we had days of 22 degrees, promptly followed by rain and a return to under double figure temperatures –  Spring has finally arrived !!  Cherry and almond trees froth with blossom,  bulbs appearing after what feels like an eternity of waiting,  daffodils growing in enough numbers to feel comfortable in picking a few…  clumps and clumps of primroses clustering around the base of the old stone boundary wall…. bliss!  And on the way into Chalabre, a mimosa tree fluffs out its blossom and the perfume catches you as you drive past….

  At last – time to start planting …. WRONG !!!!!  I got fooled last year.. my neighbour ( and gardening professor ) Pierre, saw me happily planting my extra fine haricot beans – sagely shook his head – and warned me about The Ice Saints and The Red Moon…. I know it sounds like something out of a Spielberg film, but it really, really is true …. it is utterly believed….. and is utterly believed because IT WORKS!!!

This year, the time of the Ice Saints ( actually that sounds as though it needs capitals ) THE TIME OF THE ICE SAINTS is from May the 11th to May the 13th.. and what does this tell you ?  Well,  if you plant seedlings during  this time their leaves may be scorched by moonlight…. ( ” scorched by moonlight  ”  sounds very Dungeons and Dragons  ) …. really, this could be the stuff of a seriously good film …. sort of….. The Wicked Queen out of Snow White  meets out hero / heroine and all comes out right in the end ….

But… The Ice Saints truly existed,  in our region – Occitanie – the old kingdom of Southern France – the Ice Saints are Jorget, Marquet, Crozet, Phillipet and Joanet  and they are spoken of as ” casseurs des gobelets ” …..” wine glass breakers “….  Ignore them at your peril !!   plant out your baby grape vines and ignore The Ice Saints… their little leaves will be shrivelled on the plant by moonlight and it will be no wine for you this year….. respect the Ice Saints and your grapes and seedlings will do brilliantly…..

And Pierre was right !! I’d not known about  the Ice Saints and my little bean seedlings – which were sprouting joyously – were cut down in a single night by the Red Moon……

And what is the Red Moon  ?? ….it’s the first full moon after Easter….nothing to do with colour at all …..  although the dawn after The Red Moon can seem more pinky rose than most mornings….

We live in the land of troubadors, myth , legend,  song and storytelling – so  why would I doubt the old tales ?

PS   The modern explanation is that the Saints Days fall at the time of year when a late frost often occurs – a clear night at the  full moon after Easter often produces a hard ground frost – and the young plants are destroyed, not by moonlight, but by climatic conditions …..  BORING isn’t it ?

PPS   I’m sticking with The Ice Saints and The Red Moon and nothing – but nothing – is going into open ground until their Saints Days are celebrated and the Red Moon is past ……  gardening is just so much more FUN here !! ( and a great  big “Thank You ” to Pierre my kind gardening neighbour ….. )


PPS  Twin Farms has more wild flowers that you could believe… click on the photo to see more …

PPPS  Our little lake in Chalabre… We LOVE Chalabre!





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