Plant Pick – Marigold
When the word Marigold is mentioned, your mind very quickly either thinks of cheesy and old fashioned council flower beds, or getting to work scrubbing the kitchen. And whilst the latter is one of my worst phobia’s, the blousy french marigolds synonymous with hanging baskets, council estates, and tiredly designed council flowerbeds, fill me with dread. But the simple marigold, with is vast array of species, can be used to great effect in the garden and allotment, and I certainly wouldn’t be without it.
On the allotment, marigolds have been used to great affect in the corner of one of the salad and bean beds. Here, interwoven with wild flowers and self sown blooms from other allotmenteers, they provide a welcome splash of colour to draw the eye. And with insects, especially hover flies and bee’s, darting amongst them throughout the summer months, they are wonderful addition to the garden – plus you can eat them! A few vibrant orange petals will liven up even the blandest of green salad’s in an instant.
Meanwhile, in the flower garden they are perfect for adding a splash of colour and reward with flower after flower after flower. I sow mine amongst my fern bed, so at this time of year the oranges clash beautifully with the delicate foliage and green’s of their ferny neighbours. And contrasted against the white Cotswold stone path, September days are still filled with colour.
Name: Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Thrives In: Sunny, well drained locations. However, I’ve always found they’ll survive pretty much anywhere given enough water and feed, offering colour to all but the shadiest of corners.
Yearly Care: A downside of marigold’s is their annual nature. However, with plenty of flowers at the end of the season, seeds can be collected for a constant supply of new plants. Sow in situ, or pots, from February to April (in trays is best for earlier germination’s to allow seedlings to be placed in frost free areas) and plant out when young plants are between five and ten centimeters tall and the last frosts have passed. Dead head regularly to encourage a proliferation of flowers and collect seeds at the end of the season for next year.
Growing Medium: Germinate in any all purpose seed friendly compost and plant into well drained soil when plants are mature.
Stockists: If you haven’t already got some marigold seeds languishing in your store somewhere, nearly all nurseries and garden centres will have seeds, along with many supermarkets and crocus
Quick Tip: Plant against dense foliage for stunning contrasts, and use flowers in salads to add a dash of vibrant orange to the mix.