Get ready for some vivid garden colour next season – 2018 has been named the Year of the Marigold.
Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry, promotes a flower and vegetable every year – it’s basically a huge marketing exercise.
It’s the half-hardy annual Tagetes that are being pushed – African marigolds (cultivars and hybrids of T. erecta), French/Indian marigolds (hybrids and cultivars of smaller T. patula).
Here are the best of the bunch from seed:
French marigold Red Knight, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.29, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Vigorous and quick to flower but remains compact. Blooms attract lots of beneficial insects to the garden. Height 25cm.
African marigold Spinning Wheels, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.60, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
A colour co-ordinated mix of large African marigolds. Ideal for pots and bedding. Height 75cm.
French marigold Striped Marvel, Thompson & Morgan, was £1.99, now 99p, www.thompson-morgan.com
Raised by a Scottish customer, each petal is evenly divided by a red and yellow stripe. The bushy, uniform plants produce masses of flowers, excellent for cutting, lasting well in water. Height 60-75cm.
Tagetes Red Gem, Sarah Raven, £1.95, www.sarahraven.com
Many marigold flowers are top-heavy and out of proportion, but not this one, with mahogany crimson blooms. Perfect for pots, as well as underplanting tomatoes. Height 30cm.
Marigold Strawberry Blonde, Plants of Distinction, £2.95, www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk
This French marigold is a breakthrough in breeding with multicoloured blooms on a single plant. Flowers open a soft shade of strawberry-pink or peach melba with a rustic yellow crest later ageing to a straw-yellow colour. Height 25cm.
Marigold Indian Kushi, Suttons, £4.99 for 20 seeds, www.suttons.co.uk
The first Indian marigold on the UK market, and rain resistant, inspired by the garlands created for weddings and occasions throughout the subcontinent.
Kushi means ‘Joy’ in Hindi. Height 60-70cm.
French marigold Durango Red, Marshalls, £2.99, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk
Anemone-flowered French marigold with intense rich-red blooms with a hint of golden edging to each petal. Height 25cm.
African marigold 3 in 1 Collection, Unwins, £4.99, www.unwins.co.uk
Tricolor collection of orange Crackerjack, white Kilimanjaro and Perfection Yellow. Height 35cm.
French marigold Alumia Vanilla Cream, Dobies, £2.49, www.dobies.co.uk
A British-bred variety in a unique primrose colour, a first for French marigolds.
Its flowers are edible, with a citrus taste. Height 25cm.
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JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND
Turn compost heaps and tuck them up for winter.
Tree peonies and camellias will benefit from bonemeal and a top dressing with compost.
Cut back and remove dying foliage from pond edges, and net pond if you haven’t already done so.
Apply grease bands to fruit trees and their stakes.
Stack shredded leaves before using them as mulch – root veg patches love this!
Remove mulch from around soft fruit bushes to expose pests. Burn debris.
Remove saucers from under container plants to prevent frost damage.
Harvest orchard fruit - store only those in perfect condition.
When you are tidying borders, don’t cut back any more tender plants. Mulch them deeply to protect them against a hard winter.
Plant new rhubarb crowns.
Plant herbaceous perennials and clematis and autumn-flowering cyclamen will establish well if planted now while they are in flower.
Prepare bean trenches for next spring, with veg waste and cardboard/newspapers.
Remove leaves from gunneras and use them to cover the crown to protect from frost.
Cover parsley with cloches so that it crops through winter.
If you’ve got tender plants, bring them indoors before they get killed by the frost. Choose a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or coldframe. Keep them on the dry side during the winter, so they don’t put on much growth.
If you haven’t done so already, lift all your maincrop potatoes on a dry day and store in bags in a cool dark place. Don’t leave them any longer or the slugs will find them.
Leave bean plant roots in the soil – they add nitrogen and can be dug in later.
Cut back old wood on blackcurrants and gooseberries, and remove any wispy growth.
Once all the fruit has been picked, let the birds into your fruit cage to pick off any pests.
Plant daffodil and crocus bulbs. Tulips can wait until next month.