Masses of fully double blooms in shades of orange, gold and yellow are produced for many weeks through the summer. Art Shades does equally well in wet or dry summers and is ideal in informal beds, borders and cottage garden plantings.
Calendula is an easy-to-grow hardy annual which flowers the same year as sowing. Its seeds can be sown direct in the garden where it is to flower.
One of our best-loved annuals, it has a variety of common names, including pot marigold, Scotch marigold and ruddles. It is, however, unrelated to African and French marigolds (Tagetes). A ‘must have’ in cottage gardens and other informal settings, where the richly coloured flowers are attractive to so many beneficial insects.
Calendulas have been grown for centuries – the petals are edible and make an attractive addition to salads, while in Europe they have been used to flavour stews and soups and to colour both butter and cheese. Another use is in cosmetics, and calendula petals can be made into a most effective hand cream for cracked skin. It is also excellent added to pot pourri. The ancient Egyptians regarded it as a rejuvenating herb.
Sow outdoors where they are to flower, 0.5cm (¼”) deep directly into finely prepared soil which has been already watered. Seedlings usually appear in 7-21 days. Water well until plants are established. Thin seedlings as required to allow development. Sowings made in curves rather than straight lines often create a more pleasing effect.
Or sow indoors in trays of compost. Water well and place in a greenhouse or cold frame. Keep moist. Transplant seedlings 5cm (2”) apart to other trays when large enough to handle. Gradually accustom young plants to outside conditions before planting out 23cm (9”) apart.
For a longer lasting display, make sowings at three-weekly intervals. Late summer and autumn sowings will flower the following year.