Year of the Marigold
Every year Flueroselect, the International Organisation for the Ornamental Plants industry, pick a flower to represent the coming year. I have been waiting to find out what it is going to be for 2018. As I bid farewell to the old – the beautiful flower of 2017 which was the Zinnia – I am excited to welcome in the new and for 2018 the flower will be… the Marigold.
Every year Unwins will feature the new flower of the year in their January catalogue which means that I get to do one of my favourite things - research. I try to find out as much as I can about the new flower of the year, including all of the weird, wonderful and useful facts about it. The Marigold has not been a disappointment as I have found out many interesting things about this humble flower and we sell many varieties in both seed and plant form, so you have lots to choose from. To grow them requires little care and with strong ties to the sun throughout history, the blooms will fill your garden with sunshine as they burst into shades of yellow, orange, gold and maroon.
The magic of Marigolds
But there is more to the Marigold than meets the eye. It has been around for hundreds of years; a native of the New World, it was scared to the Aztecs. They attributed magical, religious and medicinal properties to the Marigold, believing it could treat the hiccups or being struck by lightning and also help to provide safe passage over water. From there it has proved its ruggedness and durability, travelling thousands of miles around the world, becoming a popular flower grown in North American and Spanish Monastery gardens. It has made its way through France and Northern Africa as well, where taller varieties of Marigolds were naturalised. One of my favourite collections of African Marigolds is Unwins Marigold Taishan Mix, which is one of the best performing and longest lasting variety. They will produce stunning pompon, double blooms in yellow, orange and gold and were used in the landscaping for the Olympic Games in Beijing, 2008.
Marigold magic around the world
There are many different uses attributed to the marigold and they have been used for different events and treatments around the world.
- In the Middle Ages people would carry it as a love charm or spell and it was formerly used to give cheese its yellow colour.
- In Mexico it is used to decorate household alters to celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
- In Hindu religious ceremonies the Marigold is made into a garland to decorate the village gods during their harvest festival.
- Marigolds have also have great value within the world of cosmetic treatment and can be an extremely effective herb in the treatment of skin problems, especially inflammation.
- It can be used in ointment form to help repair minor damage such as sunburn, the sap from the stem has been said to remove warts, corns and calluses and it is also used in essential oils.
I am very fond of Marigold tea which can help clear fevers and stomach ache and is very calming to the nervous system. If you would like to try it yourself why not take a look at Unwins French Marigold Durango Select Mix. Enjoy their extra-large anemone-type flowers and then make your own tea, just dry the flower petals at a low temperature, add one tablespoon of dried petals to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for at least ten minutes. Add some honey, mint or lemon balm to enhance flavour. Dried flower heads are still used in broths, soups and stews as the petals have a slightly peppery taste, making it great paired with savoury flavours.
Marigolds in the landscape
Marigolds are so easy to grow and look wonderful, they have been used as colour edging along flowerbeds and walkways, as well as being traditionally used in gardens as borders around treasured flower beds. From our range of Marigolds some of our favourites are the French Marigold Durango Red for their deep red blooms, the Marigold Vanilla for their light, creamy yellow pompons and the Marigold Strawberry Blond with their unique, colour changing flowers, all three of which will look stunning in your garden. Make sure you plant them in well-drained soil where they are in full sunshine for the best results.
They are also used as companion plants in vegetable patches as scented varieties such as our French Citrus Mix can help to ward off harmful insects. Protect your basil, cucumbers, potatoes, squash and tomatoes from pesky pests whilst having a delightful display of tangerine and yellow blooms to look at. If you want to add some flowers to complement you Marigolds, Salvia, Zinnia, Nasturtium and Gaillardia are all great flowers to plant with. They also all make excellent cut flowers so you can enjoy the stunning array of colours within you home too.
My last fact of the day is this – the Marigold is the birth flower for October. For a thoughtful gift, why not make a bouquet and give it to someone for their birthday.
By Jemma Cox