Throwback Thursday is a chance to spotlight an heirloom variety in hopes of either reminding us of a dear old friend, or introducing us to a new love. Today’s heirloom selection is the marigold.
Surely everyone has heard of marigolds? Perhaps, but don’t call me Shirley. It’s precisely the fact that everyone has heard of them that I want to highlight them. Often times our tried and true gets overlooked, and that’s just not right. Little miss Mari is a very hard worker in our gardens and for all she does, some credit is due. Aside from that there are a plethora of varieties, some of which I’m sure will surprise you or at least, you have never had heard.
Tagetes come in many shapes and sizes. There are three species of which most of us are familiar. Mexican Tagetes (cempasúchi), African Tagetes (Tagetes erecta) and French Marigolds (Tagetes patula). They are all beautiful and distinct in their own way. Marigolds are not Calendula. Although I love calendula as well, it’s important to know the difference if you are hoping to use them as companion plantings.
They are all lovely and cheerful in their own way, but they each serve different purposes. I use the French varieties as bug deterrent companion plantings, along with Tansy. I use Mexican and African as a lovely border along my driveway.
As far as color, you have your choice of about four. Yellow and orange are the most common, white (or a creamy yellowy) and burgundy. Let’s be paisley and call them gold, copper and brass, not so boring now, right? That’s about all but they really make the most of what they are given.
Here are some varieties, some old some new. All beautiful!
It’s likely that you already knew much of what I have stated about marigolds so far. Let’s go off the beaten path with them now.
For one thing marigold flowers are edible. I use them in salads, tea, and I even have a recipe for marigold cake which I will share with you. Marigolds are beautiful in a pitcher of lemonade or just iced water. Used to top a lemon pie, you’ll be the hit of the potluck!
1 cup softened butter
1 cup super fine sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 orange, zest of one lemon
3 tblsp. Fresh marigold petals
Marigold petals give a delicate flavor and a slight orange hue to this light tea-time cake.
Grease and line or flour a 21b loaf tin. Cream the butter with the sugar and add the beaten egg a little at a time. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture. Add the zest and the petals. Spoon into the tin and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour. Sprinkle with granulated sugar about halfway through if desired. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove form pan. Serve when just cool. This cake keeps well and can be frozen.
I sometimes use a cream cheese icing on these little tea cakes as well.
Or try a lovely salad…
Another not so well know fact…marigolds can be used to get the perfect yellow or orange hue when you’re dyeing yarn or fabric. I used to dye my little girls socks to match the dresses I would make for her. For several years I used coffee and tea for this, but when she was about three I found I could use my zinnias and marigolds to make some beautiful hues for her more cheerful apparel.
Now that she is beyond the sock dyeing years, I still use many botanicals to dye yarn, wool and cotton, for scarves hats and those fingerless texting gloves she loves. I’m sure I’ll be posting on all my other dyeing tricks but today let me tell you marigolds are excellent for adding a splash to a dye.
Marigolds are so easy to grow, even from seed and forgiving of almost any even hostile conditions. This is how they can come up even between bricks and concrete cracks and they dare to go where few others have gone before.
They make a sturdy cut flower and they flower for long, long stretches. Have I sold you? Here’s where you can get yours…
Have a paisley marigold day!~KeriAnne