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Calendula brings the Glow

calendula petals in oil

Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula.

Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles.

Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns.

I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.

Another effect more difficult to measure is how Calendula can cast a little warm sunshine onto cold, grey, rainy moods. Settling into a hot tub full of Calendula bath tea is one of my favorite ways to relax and soothe my skin and nerves.

‘Bathtub therapy’ seems not to be practiced by many people in the U.S. I saw a statistic go by recently saying 50% never take baths. Wow! No wonder everybody is so grumpy all the time. Don’t know how I’d manage without them.

If you’ve never made your own bath tea, I have directions and recipe ideas in this post. Give it a try. Take some time, slow down, have a nice long soak.

After the bath, massage a bit of Calendula oil into your damp skin. You’ll be refreshed, moisturized, glowing.

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Calendula is not (only) for you

calendula flowers

It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction.

Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us.

Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any other being.

I hope people can learn to think about plants in a bigger way. We’ve done so much taking. There’s a lot of giving back to do.

 

 

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Ready for Winter Downtime

Calendula still blooming in November garden

It is sad when garden time comes to a close. But we’re a bit tired after a long season and are looking forward to a little downtime.

The Hadley garden has already had frost. All that’s left are some greens growing under fleece, as well as a few Scotch Bonnet and Habanero plants still ripening their peppers under plastic cover. It’s getting cold now, though. We’re almost done.

The Northampton garden hasn’t had a frost yet. There are Calendula, Alyssum, and amazingly Nasturtium and Holy Basil flowering. Thank goodness! I’m still seeing honey bees.

That’s Calendula pictured above. Her orange-yellow color is so bright, it shines in my November garden like sunshine. This happy, pretty flower is one of the first to greet me in Spring and the last to leave in Autumn. I’ll miss hanging out with her in the garden.

Luckily, I’ve got a good stash of dried Calendula flowers to get me through the Winter!

 

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Soaping on Schedule

handmade herbal soap

Boy, for one crazy minute there while pondering how to get done everything that needs doing this year, I decided to give up on soap-making.

That was scary! I am so enamored with hand-milling olive oil soap, it made me kindof bummed that it was gone. Soap takes about a month to fully dry and cure though, so I have to plan out my soaping schedule in advance to make sure it gets fit in.

And I can only make so much, so I have to limit my choice of blends.

the definites for this year are:

Rose, with Rose petals, Marshmallow root, and Geranium essential oil

Lavender, with Lavender flowers, White (Kaolin) Clay, and Lavender essential oil

Lemongrass, with Lemongrass, Coconut Milk, and Lemongrass essential oil

Sage, with Garden Sage, White Sage, French Green Clay, and Sage and Lavender essential oils

Calendula, with Calendula petals, Oatmeal, and Tangerine essential oil

also pondering:

Elderflower, with Elderflower blossoms, Mango Butter, and Palmarosa essential oil

Linden, with Linden flowers and leaves, Green Tea, and Ylang Ylang essential oil

maybe Lettuce or Cucumber or Seaweed? Something green….

 

“Wild Carrot” is a notable omission as it’s one I’ve always made (fresh carrots with the scent of (Wild) Carrot Seed essential oil- love it!), but I thought I’d take a break to give me the chance to try something different.

Have I missed any of your favorites?

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Herbs for You, Me, and the Bees

mid-july herb harvest
July 15th’s harvest basket

Want to know the downside of this beautiful basketful of herbs? It was stolen!

Yes, stolen from the bees. They were already busy at work in the garden when I went out in the morning to pick.

Being all too painfully aware of the horrors threatening the bees’ survival (Colony Collapse Disorder, poisoning, industrial farming, loss of habitat), I grow medicinal herbs as much for them as for myself.

Our animal and plant friends need the nutrition and medicine that herbs offer the same as we do. So make sure you plant lots of extras 😉

(herbs in the photo, clockwise from top left: Holy Basil, Bee Balm, Echinacea, St. Johnswort, Calendula)

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Herbal Lore: Calendula

calendula

To say this cheerful, daisy-like flower is one of the most important plants in the herb garden is really not an exaggeration.

Calendula has a long history of use as medicine, food, cosmetics, and fabric dye. It’s also a valuable companion plant in the garden, but I kindof like having it around just because it makes me smile…. 😉

 

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Soothing, healing, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Excellent for all skin types. Especially good for sensitive skin, dehydrated / dry skin, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns.
 

A staple in Old English gardens and pantries, Calendula (sometimes called “Marigold”) was believed to keep you healthy during the Wintertime and its flowers often used in soups.

According to English herbalist John Gerard, author of “The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes” (1597), “no broth is well made without dried Marigolds”.

(Calendula’s petals contain flavoxanthin and auroxanthin, and its leaves and stems’ constituents include lutein and beta-carotene; carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity.)

 

Today, it’s most commonly used topically for wound healing due to its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

I use it in my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by increasing peripheral circulation, refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.