Calendula - The edible healing herb.
Congratulations to Wendy- send your address and claim your prize. I will mail you one of my little herb handbooks or the Summer Recipes book, your choice.
Cheery and bright, these prolific annual flowers jump around the herb garden in colors ranging from orange to yellow and every shade in between. Their seeds look like something out of the dinosaur age.
When you pluck the flowers for a salad or to make calendula butter, they give off a very delicate and pleasant floral aroma and taste. This lovely aroma strengthens on drying the flowerheads. Jane Hawley-Stevens, who uses calendula in creams and other cosmetic products dries calendula that she grows organically. Here we see the drying cabinet she uses:
The nice thing about drying the flowerheads is that we get tons of seeds to plant for next year. Actually, unless you are vigilant in deadheading the flowers, you will get a good crop next year anyway. In fact, I have heard of gardeners ripping the plants out (along with their hair!) after a few years of calendula going to seed. But that won't happen to you because you will be drying and using all those beautiful petals in soups, stews, butters and using them fresh in salads.
Here they are growing wild on a tiny Atlantic island off the coast of Brittany France:
...and planted out in an Arizona garden in the middle of a Pecan Farm:One summer day in 2007 I think it was, I visited Four Elements Herbals in Wisconsin about an hour drive from Milwaukee. It was one of the most enchanted places I have ever seen. Owner, Jane Hawley-Stevens took me on a tour of the Chakra Garden and then delighted me with a lunch (pictured below) of homemade bread, Wisconsin cheese, cauliflower and pickled beet salad and a beautiful summer salad made with cabbage and other greens and flowers she grows on her beautiful land. The large flowers are nasturtium and the petals are calendula.
Feast your eyes and enjoy.