Another cheerful little flower popping up in early spring is the pretty yellow or orange Calendula. They are favourites in cottage gardens, and flower almost continuously from early spring to late autumn. It is this belief that they bloom on the first day of each month (Latin: calends), or kalendae, which gave rise to their botanical name.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is also known as Pot Marigold or Garden Marigold, but should not be confused with the Tagetes species which is also known as Marigolds – see The Importance of Latin Botanical Names. Some of its other names include Souci, Marybud, and Holligold.
Mostly grown as a hardy annual, it self-seeds freely. With a height and spread of about 60cm it grows almost in any soil that is not waterlogged, but does best in a sunny position growing in fine loam.
60cm in height with a 60cm spread
Any soil in a sunny site
Propagated by seed.
Use as an edible flower
Flowers can be picked as they open and used both fresh or dried.
The fresh flowers can be used as a garnish, particularly attractive in soft cheeses, butters, fish dishes, baking, and salads. The petals make a good food dye – lending the plant its name as Poor Man’s Saffron – to colour rice, custards, milk, and egg dishes. It also makes an interesting tea.