Growing Calendula – It’s About Patience and Resilience

In the spring of 2019, I definitely needed a pick-me-up.  My dad was going through a long, arduous recovery from a series of medical events, including multiple strokes.  Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and complex political situation all around the world, it seemed like all of us were diving from one crisis into another.  Tumultuous times such as these take away a lot from us – they demand our full focus, undivided attention, and significant emotional involvement.  During these times, it is so easy to forget about self care, and put your own well being on the back burner.  It’s a lesson that took me decades to learn, but I am slowly getting better at it.  

During one those overdue moments of caring for my own well-being, I sought respite in nature, more specifically, in plants.  My love of plants comes in many forms – from collecting them, to photographing them, to growing them, to harvesting them, to turning them into nourishing skin products or delicious food.  This time, I had the urge to see something new come to life, and what better way to do that than to grow a plant from seeds.  So, I ended up with a pack of organic pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) seeds from #wholefoods. 

Up until then, I mostly used young plants/seedlings to grow mature ones.  So, planting from seeds was something super exciting for me!  I followed the directions and planted the pot marigold seeds in the Sage Abbey garden in the spring of 2019.  The directions stated the plants would germinate in 7-14 days.  Furthermore, I read that “Marigolds germinate quickly, sprouting within a few days and blooming in about 8 weeks, making them easy to grow from seed.”  Foolproof, right?

For weeks, I waited and waited.  Nothing.  After about a month and a half, a few small leaves peeked through the soil.  And then a few more.  I was so excited!  By that August, there were a lot of green leaves but no flowers.  I thought perhaps I’d get flowers in the fall.  So, I waited. 

The fall of 2019 came and went without a single flower.  The green leaves died with the first frost and then turned into compost.  It was official – my first ever plant growing from seeds was a major bust.

In early March 2020, as the pandemic was raging, my Dad ended up in a hospital with another stroke.  He could not speak, swallow, chew.  He could only communicate with his eyes.  And with his minimal knowledge of English language, it was REALLY tough for him.  Family wasn’t allowed to visit due to COVID restrictions.  And family support is incredibly important during recovery.  So, it was tough for us.  As paramedics were taking him away from the house and telling us that we are not allowed to go with him, I remember wondering if this was the last time we were going to see Dad.  Thankfully it wasn’t.  The recovery was long, but Dad is a fighter.  The doctors, nurses and staff in the hospital and at the rehab centers were simply incredible.  Because of my dad’s tough case in terms of communication and the language barrier, they made an exception and let us participate in his recovery process.  His progress soared after my family and I were allowed to visit and get involved in his daily therapy.  Dad made it back home in May of 2020.

Guess what also happened in May?  My pot marigold plants came back to life!  First with just a few leaves, and then a few more.  And in July – the first beautiful, bright yellow flowers – like little sunshines.  

I could not believe that what I thought was long gone actually survived.  It’s about resilience. It’s about hope. And it’s about patience. Finally, it’s about goodness.  

I have been picking and drying the organic pot marigold flowers all through December of last year.  Now, I have plenty of these little sunshines to infuse into every batch of Goodness this year.  And then, just like that, new and much more resilient golden sunshines will peek through, making way to new hope and even more goodnes.

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