Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Gold Standard

Wouldn't it be great to have gold at a fraction of the current market value? Well, garden friend you can!

Marigolds are an annual that have everything to offer: colors, sizes, petal shapes, inexpensive in seeds or sets, and you can save the seeds for next year.

Marigolds were first discovered by the Portuguese in Central America in the 16th century. In India, they are prized for ceremonies and perfume. It's gold color is said to represent honorable people. (Discovered doesn't mean they weren't around before that date, it means it's the first recorded date.)

Translated, Marigold means Mary's gold. Called this because they are said to be the Virgin Mary's flowers. It is also a poor man's saffron. It's had many medicinal, herbal, and superstitious meanings.

The average height of calendula marigold is 12-24 inches tall. The leaves are a rich green and spread to a width of 12-18 inches. Flowers come in singles, doubles and semi-doubles. The colors range from white through gold, yellow, and orange. The blossom can be up to 4 inches wide. They do not have as pungent of a smell and are better for picking.

The height of tagetes marigolds can range from 12 inches up 36 inches. The leaves are serrated and dark green. Their flowers are available in white through gold, yellow, and orange with fabulous combinations of shadings, picotee, and spots available. Tagetes are available in single and double sizes and the blossoms of the largest can reach nearly six inches. They are toxic for human consumption but do have insect pest deterring properties. They smell really bad.

Both calendula and tagetes varieties of marigolds are easy to grow. They require full sun and well-drained soil. Calendula can tolerate poorer quality soil than tagetes.

There's a whole lot of interesting history and uses for marigolds outside of what I've written. The bottom line: If you like bright colors, easy maintenance and low cost, marigolds are for you.

Whether planted around your vegetable garden, in a formal bed, in pots, or a cottage garden, marigolds are for you.

If you want to plant something that requires very little follow-up, watering, and fertilizer marigolds are for you.

If your garden has dark colors, little contrast, bare spots, or zero fall color, marigolds are for you.

Described as vulgar by some and a must have by others: I'm with the golden last.

Final Note: The Pekin IL Marigold Festival is September 10-12, 2010. 309-353-3100 for details

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