Home Flower seeds Top marigolds for 2017

Top marigolds for 2017

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Calendula Coffee Cream. Picture; Plants of Distinction
Calendula Coffee Cream. Picture; Plants of Distinction

Think Indian garlands, not single row bedding!

Marigolds Harlow Carr
An explosion of colour with marigolds at RHS Harlow Carr, September 2016

You’re going to find marigolds everywhere this year – not in hideous, 70s-style bedding rows with Lobelia and Alyssum – think more tropical, Indian garland style.

I love Calendula but have never warmed to marigolds, until I saw a huge container overflowing with blooms at Harlow Carr last September – wow!

In this pick of my favourites (there are 11), I’ve chosen not just North and South American natives Tagetes but included Calendula (English pot marigolds) – the common name marigold comes from “Mary’s gold”, first used for Calendula officinalis, so it seems rather fitting.

Cultivated Tagetes are known as African marigolds (usually cultivars and hybrids of the rather tall T. erecta), or French marigolds (hybrids and cultivars of smaller T. patula, many of which were developed in France). Triploid multi-coloured marigolds are a hybrid between African and French types.

Fill your boots – but please don’t plant them in lines – these are flowers with a wild spirit, so let it flow.

Marigold Strawberry Blonde, Plants of Distinction, £2.95, www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk.
This French marigold is lauded in many catalogues this year and for good reason – it’s a breakthrough in breeding with multicoloured blooms on a single plant. Flowers open a soft shade of strawberry-pink or peach melba with a rustic yellow crest later ageing to a straw-yellow colour. Highly tolerant of bad weather, giving a long display in containers, beds, and borders. Height 25cm.

Calendula Snow Princess, Thompson & Morgan, 99p, www.thompson-morgan.com.
Another new bloom on the block that’s all over the place – a world-first pure white English pot marigold. The flowers seem to change colour too – the petals have a yellow underside and bud, but as they open, the white topside is revealed, surrounding a large brown or yellow central eye. Each semi-double flower is 7.5cm across. Height 40-50cm.

Marigold Indian Kushi, Suttons, £4.99 for 20 seeds, www.suttons.co.uk.
The first Indian marigold on the UK market, inspired by the garlands created for weddings and occasions throughout the subcontinent. Kushi means ‘Joy’ in Hindi. With longer stems, it’s ideal for cutting. Flowers July-September. Height 60-70cm.

Marigold French Durango Red, Marshalls, £2.99, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk (not pictured).
Anemone-flowered French marigold with intense rich red blooms with a hint of golden edging to each petal. Height 25cm.

Calendula DT Brown Cut Flower Mixed Flower Seeds, DT Brown, £1.99, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk.
A mixture of singles, doubles, and semi-doubles, superb for attracting beneficial insects and excellent for cutting.

African Marigold 3 in 1 Collection, Unwins, £4.99, www.unwins.co.uk (not pictured).
Tricolor collection of orange Crackerjack, white Kilimanjaro, and Perfection Yellow. Height 35cm.

French Marigold Alumia Crème Brûlée, Mr Fothergill’s, £3.25, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
Slightly taller than traditional French Marigolds with unusual, large open semi-double blooms boldly flecked with red. Height 25cm.

Mexican Meadow Mix, Sarah Raven, was £3.95 now £2.76, www.sarahraven.com.
A tall mix of yellow and orange flowers native to Central America – coneflowers, marigolds, zinnias and tithonia (Mexican sunflowers). Photography © Jonathan Buckley. Height 60-100cm.

Calendula Coffee Cream, Plants of Distinction, £2.35, www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk.
Unusual cream petals with coffee-coloured reverse. Height 45cm.

Calendula Indian Prince, Higgledy Garden, £1.95, www.higgledygarden.co.uk.
One of the most striking Calendulas available – as owner Ben says: “A fiery lava colour greets the retinas like an old friend. It looks amazing in a vase with Blue Ball cornflowers and Cosmos Purity.” Height 75cm.

French Marigold Alumia Vanilla Cream, Dobies, £2.49, www.dobies.co.uk.
A British-bred variety in a unique primrose colour, a first for French marigolds. Its flowers are edible, with a citrusy taste. Height 25cm.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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