Last year, I had a surprise with some Calendula officinalis seeds: I got a few plants which were attractively, and rather bizarrely, striped. So I saved the seed from those specific marigolds (and some from the others too, of course – who can walk past a marigold seedhead without saving at least a few?) and planted them in the spring, keeping my fingers crossed. Hybridisation, I thought, meant that my chances of getting some striped marigolds were low. I was wrong.
But what I did get was a huge variety of stripe intensity, as it were.
There’s just a hint here, on the underside. Looks as though someone’s been dipping the ends of the petals in paint and it’s dripped down a bit.
Then there’s the orange on orange variant, still with the darker tip:
which is almost terracotta on this flower. And then the ones like this open out a little more and you don’t notice the terracotta so much; you just see the stripes:
Some are rather more pale and interesting,
subtle in orange and cream (sounds like some sort of pudding), with a delicate fine stripe down the sides of the petals.
Some have ends which can only be described as splodgy,
but these aren’t, I suppose, strictly speaking, striped. Their paint has really run.
And then there are the rather more emphatic versions:
Still essentially orange and cream, but with a lot more orange. For some reason this makes me think of tangerine jelly and single cream at children’s parties, but that could just be because I need my tea. (I never liked that sort of alleged treat, anyway, and I do like these.)
I love the surprise of it. I walk towards the bed where I put them all, and I’ve no idea what I’m going to find. Will there be ones which are a solid colour? What will have happened to the ones which looked insignificant in bud, but which may have opened since I last checked them out?
And the insects seem to like them too. I think the flies are using the stripes like runways, guiding them to the centre of the flowers.
I like the variation in stripe thickness on this one, with the cream so much broader at the base of the petals. Or should that be ‘with the orange so much thinner’? Which is more important, the cream or the orange, I wonder? They’re both wonderful… guess I’ll be saving seeds from more choices this year. I only had a couple of seedheads to play with last year, after we’d had our horrible wet August, but this time there’ll be many, many more. And they’ve even been happily free of mildew this year, which is astonishing.
My passion for stripes doesn’t stop at Calendulas, though. I’d better not get onto the hardy geraniums just yet (I’ll save them up; they’ve been good this year), but I can’t resist a quick look
at this little petal. I do love them, but there’s something almost medical about the veining on these. The Calendulas look so deliberately painted, which I really enjoy. So do some other things,
but I’d better not start on spots. I think it must be a good year for Toad Lilies, too.