Marigold: the birthflower for October....
I wonder if the planets have aligned for the colour orange in October, because not only is it the traditional Halloween colour, and the tone of the Fire Opal, one of the birthstones for this 10th month, but it is also the colour of the Calendula or Marigold flower, which is the birth flower for October.
It sure seems that orange is the colour of the month...
Marigolds, the cheery garden flower that we know them as, are generally either Calendula Officinalis or one of the Tagetes varieties. The former are originally from Europe, and the latter from the Americas.
But, just to make things confusing, many of the Tagetes varieties which were taken around the world many centuries ago are known by another country's name... like French Marigolds, African Marigolds... even though they originated in the Americas.
Happily, both Calendula and Tagetes are used in much the same way, in the garden to discourage aphids, in cooking to impart a delicate flavour and bright colour, and in beauty treatments, as a moisturiser, where it is believed to protect the skin.
Calendula was used in Ancient Roman, Greek, Indian and Middle Eastern cultures both as a dye and as a medicinal herb.
Calendula Marigolds were very popular in herb gardens in the Middle Ages, and were used to make simple beauty treatments like these old recipes, with ingredients which are readily available from health food stores (and the garden!).
The gloriously vibrant orange colour is a feature of traditional Indian weddings, where the Marigold flower is used as symbol of health and prosperity for the new couple.
The colourful flower heads are strung into garlands, which are worn as necklaces as well as hanging decorations, creating an incredibly beautiful display.
And while the Marigold is grown as a pest deterrent in the garden, keeping away various bugs, caterpillars and aphids, it seems that it's pretty delectable to munch on if you are of the four legged furry kind.
I actually planted a dozen Marigolds in my own veggie garden a few weeks ago, in the lovely French Vanilla cream variety, to protect the nearby runner beans and chili plant, but it seems they are irresistible to our hungry possums... because not only are the beans and chili munched right back, there isn't a shred of evidence of the little marigolds...not even a stem.
It seems we have possums with peculiar and strong tastebuds around here!
Perhaps the possums were born in October...and they know all about their birth flower...