(Calendula officinalis, Linn.), an annual herb of the natural
order Compositae, native of southern Europe. Its Latin name, suggestive
of its flowering habit, signifies blooming through the months. Our word
calendar is of the same derivation. Its short stems, about 12 inches
tall, branch near their bases, bear lanceolate, oblong, unpleasantly
scented leaves, and showy yellow or orange flowers in heads. The curved,
eeds, which are rough, wrinkled and somewhat spiny, retain their
germinating power for about three years.
Cultivation.--For the garden the seed is usually started in a hotbed
during March or April and the plants pricked out in flats 2 inches apart
and hardened off in the usual way. When the weather becomes settled they
are set a foot or 15 inches apart in rather poor soil, preferably light
and sandy, with sunny exposure. Often the seed is sown in the open and
the seedlings thinned and transplanted when about 2 inches tall.
Uses.--The flower heads are sometimes dried and used in broths, soups,
stews, etc., but the flavor is too pronounced for American palates. One
gardener remarked that "only a few plants are needed by a family." I
think that two would produce about twice as much as I would care to use
in a century. For culinary use the flowers are gathered when in full
bloom, dried in the shade and stored in glass jars. The fresh flowers
have often been used to color butter.
The marigold, "homely forgotten flower, under the rose's bower, plain as
a weed," to quote Bayard Taylor, is a general favorite flowering plant,
especially in country gardens. It is so easily grown, is so free a
bloomer, and under ordinary management continues from early summer until
even hard frosts arrive, that busy farmers wives and daughters love it.
Then, too, it is one of the old-fashioned flowers, about which so many
happy thoughts cling. What more beautiful and suggestive lines could one
wish than these:
"The marigold, whose courtier's face
Echoes the sun, and doth unlace
Her at his rise, at his full stop
Packs up and shuts her gaudy shop."
"On Phillis Walking before Sunrise"
"Youth! Youth! how buoyant are thy hopes! They turn
Like marigolds toward the sunny side,"
"The Four Bridges"