Calendula officinalis “Neon” – Pot Marigold

The name calendula means “throughout the months” which refers to the long flowering period of this annual.  They bloom practically non-stop throughout the season, with self seeders starting to flower in spring and continuing well into autumn.  They have few problems, slugs tend to ignore them unlike their French namesakes who have to be scrutinised continually for evidence of attack.  They are held as a sacred flower in india and used to make garlands and decorations for weddings and other religious festivals.  Anyone who has seen the film Monsoon Wedding will remember the man in charge of decorations who seems to eat more flowers than he adds to the displays.   They were also important to early christians who called them Mary’s Gold and would place them around statues of the Virgin Mary.

The flowers can be used in salads, to add flavour to soups and stews and to add colour in lieu of expensive saffron.  Used medicinally as a salve to relieve skin complaints, it is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.  Apparently rubbing the flower on wasp or bee stings helps soothe any reaction.  They are thought to have originated in southern europe but have naturalised in all warm temperate areas of the world including southern england.

Although sometimes the Pot Marigold is not regarded as chic as its French cousin this variety Neon is stunning.  It is beautiful both in bud and full bloom.  The cultivar “Orange Prince” self seeds prolifically in the garden so I am hoping that this little beauty will do the same.  We might even get some interesting crosses “Neon Prince” perhaps?

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