Calendula – Calendula officinalis
Calendula is an annual that grows about 12 inches high. Its beautiful flowers bloom in yellow and orange and they will brighten up your garden with their herbal sunshine! Calendula will lightly reseed itself in your garden, but just in case, collect a few seed heads to plant for next year’s crop. Pruning off the older flowers encourages the plant to keep blooming, and you will have blooms all summer long and into autumn. Use calendula to brighten up open pockets in your perennial garden, and be sure to add it to your herb garden as well.
Calendula flowers are used to make compresses for tired or agitated eyes. They fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria. (They are bacteriostatic, which means they do not kill bacteria, but contain it, keep wounds clean, and help the body to heal itself.) Their petals (also known as “poor man’s saffron”), are edible and make a lovely and colorful addition to any salad. Harvest flowers when they are young and full, use fresh, or dehydrate to store and use for teas, tinctures, salves, and balms. Medicinal properties are held in the bud and in the sticky resin that is found concentrated in the undersides of the flowers. If harvesting with an un-gloved hand, you will notice the stickiness after collecting a few heads, here is where the magic lays. It promotes healing in wounds, rashes, burns, and cuts in the skin. Use a strong tea and wash it over the affected areas. Calendula is used as a remedy for afflictions to the lymphatic glands and as a general immune tonic.
Best of all, it is easy to grow, lovely to look at, and happily returns in new and wondrous places in your garden each year!