Autumn Announcer?…


They popped up quite unexpectedly and I hope they never leave! It has been just over 2 weeks since they  made their colorful appearance, and what a couple of weeks of weather it has been! Blazing hot days, howling winds and sporadic thunderstorms, 4 seasons all in one day. On days that you expect it to rain it doesn’t. When it eventually does, it comes down like the day Noah prepared for, followed the next by uncomfortably warm gale force winds that seem to draw the very moisture from your skin. The aftermath is 2 full days of dusting and sweeping every nook and corner (which will need to be repeated 2days after) and dreary drooping foliage on anything that grew above ground. And yet.. there it was.

20180412_081004

A small yet sturdy bush of French Marigold blooms that dazzled the entire garden with its vibrant splash of color. Because they were obscured by beetroot leaves and tomato vines, we did not notice the little plant until it decided it was ready to show off ALL of its blooms. I am holding thumbs and crossing toes that cuttings will survive and that seeds collected will produce blooms for seasons ahead.

Marigolds will surprise you with their hardiness (the only character trait that is essential to all creatures on the farm, upright, furry, foliaged and feathered alike) They do not require particularly fertile soil so you can pack away all of those extras. In fact, if your soil is to rich, you will end up with bushes full of foliage and no flowers! Stick to light well drained soil. A decent compost mixture should give you all the support you need.

From garlands at Dia de los Muertos, to pinwheels to pomander balls and hedge soldiers, these beauties are not to be overlooked. A source of nectar for butterflies and containing essential oils that research suggests, has the potential to be used as a pesticide against Bedbugs! Tagetes patula florets are even added to poultry feeds to help give egg yolks a more golden color.

There is so much more to this little flower than I expected, with uses including the dried and ground flower petals being used as a spice, as dyes for animal based textiles like silk and wool, as well as the essential oils which are used as a antifungal treatment for plants.

marigold-2850902__340

The whole plant is harvested when in flower and distilled for its essential oil. The oil is used in perfumery; it is blended with sandalwood oil to produce ‘attar genda’ perfume. About 35 kg of oil can be extracted from one hectare of the plant (yielding 2,500 kg of flowers and 25,000 kg of herbage). – https://en.wikipedia.org/

Hugely underappreciated, I think that this plant should have a spot in every garden.