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Gardener's Notebook: Marigolds regular garden stand out

After taking stock of our plants and how they did after the storms, one plant that is outstanding is the vanilla marigolds that we have in containers.
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Which flowers are your favourite in your garden? (File Photo)

YORKTON - Once you start talking gardening with gardeners, the conversation will be interesting, animated, and lengthy! And yes, there might even be some difference of opinions and some fiery exchange of views!

After taking stock of our plants and how they did after the storms, one plant that is outstanding is the vanilla marigolds that we have in containers. Though pounded into shreds by the hail, they have come back beautifully and are covered with blooms.

So when it comes to gardeners and opinions, one that is top of mind for me right now is marigolds. My Sweet Pea always grew marigolds in her beautiful garden. When it was time to start seeds for the coming year’s garden, it was a ‘given’ that tomatoes and marigolds were the first choices. Mom’s favourite marigolds were “First Lady”, a stunning plant that grew about 18 inches high and became a mound of solid yellow blooms by mid-summer. It was absolutely beautiful; Mom had a long row of these along the driveway, and planted that way in a mass planting, they were amazing. And tough! They could withstand the sun and heat of that location and weren’t fragile plants that broke in the wind. In fact, pulling them out at the end of the season took a lot of muscle power! “Aztec” was another kind that we liked because they were taller and good for flower arrangements.

For the shorter marigolds, Mom always liked the “Janie” series, or the “Queen Sophia” marigolds. These dwarf plants had marigolds that were about two inches across, and they bloomed and bloomed. They were wonderful in containers or as borders in the garden.

They were strong plants, bold plants, and did well up till frost with no pests or problems affecting them. Mom also grew “Lemon Gem”, a smaller, single type.

Now. Fast-forward to recent years. Someone we knew sniffed at the thought of marigolds, saying they were probably her least favourite flower. Excuse me? Now I am dragging out my soap box and standing on it to sing the praises of the marigold!

Sometimes called ‘tagetes’, marigolds used to be mainly in South America. They like full sun, can stand up to dry conditions, and can tolerate soil that is less than ideal, except for soil that is too wet; they don’t like wet feet. Once they start blooming, they will continue to bloom for the rest of the season and can even tolerate a bit of frost.

To keep them blooming their best, we should dead-head them. This is accomplished with a quick ‘pop’ at the base of the flower (no finnicky pinching as with petunias!). And if a bloom should dry out after it has bloomed, then save the seeds, because they will happily come up again next year!

Marigolds come in a wide range of warm colours, from creamy white to bright yellow to fresh orange to spicy hot paprika colours. And there are variegated types, too. In terms of their size, there are dwarf varieties with profuse, compact flowers, right up to taller ‘statement’ varieties

with very large blooms. So whatever space you have in your yard, there is a marigold for you!

The only thing that marigolds lack is a sweet fragrance. But on the other hand, the fragrance that they do have is good at keeping pests away; some types are said to keep mosquitoes away; and some are said to repel deer and rabbits. So there is always a silver lining! Find out what’s new with the Yorkton hort society by visiting us at www.yorktonhort.ca

Thank you to our friends at YTW for their consistently great work! Have a good week!