Symphony in Orange
Orange calendula blossoms shimmer brightly under blue skies, each more dazzling than the next. Growing in our medicinal plant garden at Schwäbisch Gmünd in southern Germany, they have absorbed plenty of sunshine. Now they stand ready to combine their healing forces and impart their strength to people and nature.
As the sun’s first rays light up the sky, our gardeners and their helpers begin their work. The morning dew has just evaporated into the warm summer air as they move onto the field. With lowered heads, the harvesters move their hands quickly between the plants and their buckets. Row by row, they reach for the large, open blossoms and gently snap them off at the stem. The smaller flowers are allowed to soak up more sun and continue to grow, before they too, become ripe for the harvesters’ baskets. It’s impossible to miss them, not even from a distance: the calendula blossoms shimmer through every little gap in the hedge, a veritable symphony in orange. Before the noon heat has arrived to diminish the calendula’s precious properties, all the flowers have been collected by hand.
“Calendula is particularly strong and vital in the morning."
Michael Straub, Head of Weleda medicinal plant garden, Schwäbisch Gmünd in southern Germany
It´s blossom has tremendous radiant power
Calendula also grows at remarkable speed, and so can be planted immediately without first starting seedlings in the greenhouse. Like its relatives in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, it multiplies quickly and profusely. Weather permitting, in just ten days the seeds sprout lush green leaves, which will soon be crowned by radially symmetric disc flowers. As a strong, sprawling plant, calendula stimulates the healing process of the skin in the case of wounds or irritation. With its regenerative and protective capabilities, the plant plays a key role in many of our products.
Calendula teaches our skin to regenerate quickly
Its active compounds, including carotenoids and flavonoids, strengthen the skin against external influences. Products that contain calendula extract are particularly well-suited for the delicate skin of babies and toddlers.
The plant originally stems from warmer regions in northern Africa, where its flowers reach up towards the sun at the edge of the Atlas Mountains. Today, calendula also feels quite at home in cooler climates two thousand kilometres further north, where it thrives in our garden in Schwäbisch Gmünd at a mere 450 metres above sea level.
Its wellbeing is the responsibility of Thomas Schildenberger – as Weleda’s agricultural sciences group leader and head of composting. For nearly two decades, he has ensured that our garden’s soil is healthy and humus rich, with plenty of organic nutrients and a fine, crumbly texture. Schildenberger uses the best seeds possible gathered from Weleda’s own fields, which he evaluates while they are in full bloom before the flowers are harvested and threshed. Row for row, he carefully sows the dark, curved calendula seeds, ensuring that they don’t become entangled with one another. He encourages the plant’s healthy growth by loosening and tending the soil, and removing unwanted greenery.