Marigold Invokes Memories

October, 2016
Dina Watson

Flowers can invoke nostalgia in a most delightful way and it's not surprising that they are often associated with personal memories.  My love for Marigold is based on this sense of nostalgia that revives a childhood that was surrounded by this flower’s vibrant color and smell.  I didn’t always have the desire to garden or even realize that when the gardening bug would get me, that I would subliminally turn to the Marigold.

Now, at this juncture in my life where I have time, space and a desire to grow things, I planted a handful of American Marigold seeds which I hope will grow to feed this nostalgic desire.  I consider myself an amateur gardener with my share of gardening fails and even though I have seen my grandmother and mother grow things with an uncanny skill - this skill has not been passed on to me.  So, I was delighted to discover that Marigold is perfect for the amateur gardener - being both easy to grow and maintain.

Research about growing marigold unearthed some other interesting facts, that I think, are worth sharing:

  • A sturdy, hardy annual that grows well in any soil
  • A genus (Tagetes and Calendula) that comes from the Sunflower family tree
  • Discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century in Central America (who are believed to have brought this to India)
  • In 1965 Everett Dirksen wrote a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson to designate the American marigold as the national floral emblem of the United States
  • The medicinal properties of this flower vary according to the region, custom and country

Another finding that triggered nostalgia, was the rediscovery of an Indian folk song about the Marigold called ‘Genda Phool’.  This song compares a family by marriage to the Marigold in that while every leaf/petal of the 'Genda' is a flower in itself with a complex structure, but despite its complexity, it can live harmoniously and can be beautiful.   In botanical terms this one but separate structure is called an inflorescence with one main stalk that bear numerous smaller stalks, each with a flower at its tip.

Everret Dirksen when making his case about designating the Marigold to be the national emblem of the U.S. said it best - “It beguiles the senses and ennobles the spirit of man. It is the delight of the amateur gardener and a constant challenge to the professional.”


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