If you like flowers, this is the month for you! May brings about an abundance of fresh, colorful blooms. The month of May also has an interesting history featuring May Day traditions, Roman goddesses and festivals, and ancient Irish legends. Let the celebrations begin! 

Hi folks! John Kelly here….

Enough with the April showers; bring on the May flowers! Gardening season is officially in full swing, and we’re loving the warmer weather and beautiful blooms. This time of year brings us a lot of joy, and it makes us think about May’s history and traditions. Here’s everything you need to know about one of our favorite months:


Goodbye, Frost! (Hopefully)

Winter’s chill is finally behind us, so we don’t have to worry about our gardens freezing overnight anymore. (Although, in Wisconsin, you never know. Keep an eye on the weather to protect your plants!)

May weather in Eau Claire is typically mild, cool, and breezy, with daytime highs in the 60-70 degree range and overnight lows in the 40s or 50s. It’s also one of the rainiest months of the year, with an average of 3.5 inches of precipitation.

May is usually a safe month to plant warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, along with annuals like petunias and marigolds. Regular weeding and pest control are also important to provide a healthy foundation for plants to sprout and bloom. Pay attention to rainfall, as water can wash nutrients out of the soil. If that happens, extra fertilizer may be needed.

Significant Days in May

May 1 – May Day

Thousands of years ago, the Celts of the British Isles considered the first of May to be the most important day of the year, commemorated by the festival of Beltane that signified dividing the year in half between the light and the dark. Later, when Rome took over the land, the festival combined with the Roman “Floralia” celebration, which honored the goddess of flowers.

During medieval times, villagers in European towns celebrated “May Day” by dancing with colorful streamers and ribbons around a maypole and assembling baskets and wreaths as symbols of fertility. Several of these customs, such as filling baskets with flowers, treats, and thoughtful goodies for neighbors and loved ones, later found their way to North America and still continue today.

May 3 – Garden Meditation Day

Established by gardening expert C.L. Fornari, National Garden Meditation Day encourages the practice of being mindful and relaxed while spending time in gardens. This concept may have been inspired by Buddhist meditation gardens and Japanese Zen gardens, which first appeared hundreds of years ago as spaces to find healing and peace while connecting with nature.

Being outdoors has a positive effect on general well-being, with exposure to Vitamin D-producing sunshine and lung-cleansing fresh air. When combined with the serene surroundings of plants in a garden, it creates an optimal space for moments of stillness and quiet.

May 4 – Start Seeing Monarchs Day

Identifiable by their familiar orange and black wings, Monarchs are milkweed butterflies that migrate south to warmer climates in the fall and return back north in the spring. As common as they may seem, Monarch butterflies have been listed as both “vulnerable” and “endangered” species for the last decade.

The first Saturday in May is Start Seeing Monarchs Day, which raises awareness of the decreasing population and actions that can prevent the Monarch’s potential extinction. Helpful suggestions include planting native milkweed plants, avoiding the use of pesticides, and creating butterfly gardens.

Honorable Mentions

A few more fun national days this month are Bird Day (May 4), Bring Flowers to Someone Day (May 15), Love a Tree Day (May 16), Pick Strawberries Day (May 20), Grape Day (May 27), and Water a Flower Day (May 30).

Fun Facts

Flower Moon

May’s full moon is often called the “Flower Moon” because it occurs in the month when hundreds of North American plants begin to bloom, signaling the arrival of the growing season. Based on the region, some native tribes refer to it by a significant flower, such as the “Mulberry Moon” by the Creek and Choctaw in the Southeast and “Camas Blooming Time” by the Kalapuya in the Pacific Northwest. Others have names based on different plants, such as “Moon Of The Green Leaves” from the Lakota and “Corn Moon” from the Winnebago.

“May” Etymology

The month of May is believed to be named after the ancient Roman goddess Maia. Known as the goddess of motherhood, Maia is often associated with growth and nurturing and is sometimes referred to as Bona Dea, “the Good Goddess,” and potentially even “Mother Earth.” It is said that a temple built in her honor by the order of the Roman Senate was officially dedicated on the first day of the month, which was also the day of their annual spring fair.

Irish May Day Traditions

Ancient Irish folklore features several legends surrounding the month of May. According to one riddle, washing your face with the morning dew on the first day is good for the complexion. Another tradition suggests that lighting communal fires on May Eve would bring good luck in the coming year.

Other superstitions revolve around magic and spirits. May Eve was thought to be an exceptionally active day for fairies, and sleeping outdoors or walking too close to an old ringfort could lead to getting captured. Milk poured over the threshold or May flowers left at the door helped keep away evil from home, and hawthorn by the cows protected the milk supply from being stolen by spirits.

Birth Flowers of the Month


With its long green stems and white, pink, or purple bell-shaped flowers, lily-of-the-valley (also known as the May lily) has a strong, sweet aroma that exudes the essence of spring. However, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not actually a lily but actually a member of the asparagus family.

According to ancient mythology, lilies-of-the-valley were protected by Mercury, the son of the Roman goddess Maia (remember her?). These flowers, often associated with motherhood, sweetness, purity, and humility, are a popular choice for wedding bouquets. They also work well in shaded garden beds but may aggressively spread under certain conditions.


A member of the rose family, Hawthorn trees have thin branches densely packed with white or pink clusters of flowers that bloom in late spring and eventually turn into small red berries. The fruit and leaves are edible and have been used medicinally to treat heart and blood diseases.

These plants, often associated with strength, hope, and fertility, signify the arrival of summer. Hawthorns have been traditionally used in garlands and decorations for May Day celebrations and are significant for birds as both a food source and a protective shelter for nesting. They grow best in full sun and provide excellent shade.

One More Thing…

Don’t forget: Mother’s Day is May 12th! Need some guidance? Check out our Green Thumb Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

As always, if you need supplies, ideas, or advice, stop by Chippewa Valley Growers – we’re happy to help. 

Until next time… Keep Smiling! Keep Living the Dream!

For spring gardening inspiration, check out Six DIY Ways to Upcycle Your Garden, Tips for Attracting Bees to Your Garden, and Five Tips to Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh.

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