Senate House Marigold

by Isabel Vinton

Senate House Marigold is a flower that is particularly close to our hearts—figuratively and literally! It was bred in the 1950s to celebrate the 1676 Senate House in Kingston, NY, just 30 mins from our seed farm, and still blooms to this day.

The 1676 Senate House in Kingston, NY, became an instant landmark when New York State's first senate convened there in 1777. Now a museum, it featured gardens that were originally restored by the Ulster Garden Club. In the 1950s, Herbert Cutler bred the Senate House Marigold to complement the site's historic plantings. Ever since, the Garden Club has been saving seeds from the tallest plants with the palest yellow flowers to grace the gardens of uptown Kingston.

When we first released the Senate House Marigold art pack in 2018, artist Cara Hanley depicted a modern day Kingston playfully rooted in a bouquet of marigolds. This new 2019 art pack, created by Wendy Nooney, tells the historical story and so we now have two pieces of art connecting past to present. Wendy achieved the muted radiance of the marigold blossoms of this new piece with layers of encaustic. We sat down with Wendy to learn more.

Senate House Marigold Sketch

Wendy, tell us about how you created this encaustic painting?

Encaustic medium, which is a mixture of bees wax and damar resin, is a relatively new medium for me. It can be used for its transparency, or colored pigments can be added for painting in a traditional style. I use the encaustic medium in its transparent state as a protective layer over my watercolors to not only eliminate the need to frame under glass, but also to add texture to the work.

For my process, I generally begin with a watercolor painting or drawing on paper that I mount to a wood panel. I then begin adding thin layers of encaustic medium over the painting until I reach a point where I’m happy with the look. Depending on the theme of the piece, I will sometimes add in collage elements between the wax layers. Once the wax medium has cooled, I will go back in and use different tools to incise lines and add texture into the wax. As a last step, I will add oil pigment sticks to certain areas to enhance the incised lines and create an aged look.

We love how you crowned the painting with a classic "Betsy Ross" circle of 13 stars, a nod to the 13 colonies represented by the original American flag. What are your favorite elements of the Senate House Marigold artwork?

My favorite elements of this artwork are the small details in the house, the garden and the woman tending the garden. I have tried to give an accurate representation of what I imagine it would have looked like during colonial times with the gardens in full bloom.

Artist Wendy Nooney at work.


The woman tending the garden is another one of my favorite details in the painting. She is a small detail and was added after the original concept. She conveys an element of humanity in the scene. In her traditional colonial garb, she walks along peacefully tending her garden, perhaps picking a bouquet for the table.

Wendy hopes that her piece gives a sense of connection between the flowers and the history of the building. May you continue the legacy in your own garden!


See more of Wendy's art at Follow her on Instagram at @wc_nooney.

Growing Senate House Marigold

Days to Germination    5-10 days
Days to Maturity    75 days
Planting Depth    1/2 inch
Spacing in Row    18 inches
Spacing Between Rows    30 inches
Height at Maturity    36 inches
Width at Maturity    18 inches

Among the easiest flowers to grow, Marigolds can tolerate all sorts of challenging conditions, but they are happiest in dry, sunny, exposed conditions, in soil that is moderate to low in fertility. Direct sow, water in, and very soon the vigorous shrubby plants will soar skyward. These are big, hefty marigolds, up to 3 feet tall, so plan on providing support or growing them close enough together that they can lean on each other.

Other Historic Varieties