A greenhouse, I recently experienced, is both a physical and psychological oasis in the dead of winter.
For starters, it provides you with a potent plant fix. Plants are proven mood enhancers and this heritage greenhouse houses more than 500 lush tropical varieties.
The building itself is a sight to behold. It’s a soaring web-like structure made almost entirely of glass and metal, a seemingly too thin separation from the realities of a harsh winter day. Yet inside you’re guaranteed the air is warm and humid. You can ditch your winter duds, close your eyes and be momentarily transported to somewhere tropical.
Here’s hoping there’s a greenhouse somewhere near you.
It’s October and, while most of the garden is shades of solid greens, the marigolds are multi-shades of vibrant yellows, reds and oranges in stunning single and bi-colour patterns. In this growing zone marigolds start blooming in late June or early July and by the fall are really (as Beyonce might say) feeling themselves.
Marigolds are the perfect fall flower for colour palette alone but also because they thrive in spite of chilly temperatures and shorter daylight hours.
Before the first hard frost hits I’m cutting marigolds for vases and bringing inside potted marigolds so I can enjoy them for longer.
My very first plantings of marigolds were store bought but now I only plant from harvested seeds.
It was never my intention to harvest marigold seeds. It’s the blooms, at the height of their beauty, I can’t resist and I collect them by the basket full. I discovered the more I pluck, the more and more marigold blossoms produced. Magic!
Inside the house I watch them dry and change colours – to mustard yellows, burnt oranges and burgundies. Then I discover seeds inside the pod, at the base of the blossom.
Now I always save the seeds. Saving seeds for planting draws my attention to how great nature is. It’s a comforting micro ritual – harvesting, sowing, planting, and enjoying marigold blooms.
It’s trial, error and learning as I go. I read you only get viable seeds if you let them ripen on the plant before you harvest. Ooops! I didn’t know and I was plucking blooms long before they died on the plant.
However, experience tells me you can harvest early as long as you allow the plucked flowers to dry and you leave the seeds undisturbed to ripen in the pod. I’ve had very good luck growing seeds harvested this way. Still, I always assume not every seed will grow and I plant them extra thick. Lord knows I have plenty!
Would you like some marigold seeds?
Type your name in the comment section and I will randomly draw five names and send you each a packet of seeds. Open to readers everywhere!
One final note: marigolds are not only the perfect fall flower but wonderful companion plants for your garden. They balance the garden’s ecosystem by repelling harmful insect pests like aphids and white flies. Even their roots are at work underground releasing into the soil thiopene, a chemical that repels harmful nematodes.