How to grow marigolds | Alys Fowler

Once established, our gardening expert says, these flowers will brighten up winter days for years to come

On one of those winter days when the sky bleeds into the ground, a lone pot marigold – wilted by past snow, but not yet dead – took one last shot at life and decided to flower on my allotment. Calendula officinalis is so easy to please that you merely have to scatter seeds on a little bare earth. Once established in your garden, the flowers will appear year after year. Then, when they are the last thing you are thinking about on a grey winter’s day, those searing orange blooms will take your breath away with their everyday, ordinary kind of beauty.

The scientific name, Calendula, hints at this February blooming, deriving from the word calendar and referring to the year-round flowering. The common name, pot marigold, comes from the tradition of putting flowers or petals into soup. The very young leaves are also edible and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Tea made from the petals is an effective mouthwash for sore throats.

Related: Why verbena has captured our garden hearts | Alys Fowler

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