Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Favorite Fall Flower: Calendula

Keeps going and going!
No, not chrysanthemum. Calendula, or pot marigold. These cool-weather favorites are just the right cheery shades for fall. For me, they're untroubled by disease or insects and tend to reseed generously. The new seedlings don't often make it through our hot seasons, but I've got to give them credit for trying.

Stems are long enough for cutting flowers.
Calendulas are very tough flowers and really only need protection during severe (for us!) cold weather.  To tell the truth, I don't cover mine at all.  Most years, they keep on blooming right up through June before they start to look raggedy and spent.  If I were conscientious, I'd collect seed. But I'm not.  I buy them in the fall at the garden center and pop them in.  

Tend to sprawl -- not for the regimented gardener!
Calendulas perform best for me in full sun, although these seem pretty happy in morning sun.  They tend to spread out or sprawl, so I plant them about 12" apart.  They rebloom best if you deadhead them, but I never do.  You saw those dianthus back on Bloom Day:  they went into complete horticultural shock because I deadheaded them for their photo opportunity.  Never happened to them before and probably never will again!

Fencing keeps out garden predator dogs!
All parts of the calendula are edible, and I grow mine in the vegetable garden.  You can sprinkle the petals in salads or use them to give a yellow tint to icings, rice, egg dishes or sauces.  The leaves taste bitter to me, but you can eat them if you want to!

Triangle Flashback, I think...
Look for varieties like Art Shades, which are double or semi-double; Bon Bon, a fully double variety with a little dark center; Neon, whose orange petal-tips are edged with burgundy; and Triangle Flashback, my favorite, with a large, showy dark center.  Here's a hint:  calendulas look far better at home in your flowerbed than they sometimes do at the nursery.  Don't be afraid to buy them if they're full, lush and green but aren't blooming yet.  They will!  And they'll last and last and last.

Thanksgiving color scheme


  1. They are beautiful. Did the fencing work? We have a similar fence but my 2 dogs still squeeze themselves in and dig the soil.

  2. Love little Calendula! Great info EB! >^..^<

  3. Oh, this reminds me of school and writing this factsheet. http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/Horticulture_Garden_2009-01pr.pdf
    Wrote it, but never grew the plant. That's school for you.

  4. Very nice factsheet, Liz! Hope you grow calendula soon!

  5. Very nice plants. Don't they add a peppery taste to salad?