Calendula (Calendula officianalis)is the 2008 Herb of the Year. The International Herb Association http://www.iherb.org/ designates an official herb annually. It is meant to educate the buying public about lesser known herbs, and provides information and materials for plant sellers, nurseries and garden centers to make use of the Herb of the Year information to aid in marketing the plant.
Growing Calendula: Calendula is a cool season annual and is grown from seed. There are some newer varieties that claim to be heat resistant, but the simple, old fashioned varieties usually give up and go to seed by late June or early July in the Midwest. Plant calendula seed in spring, after danger of frost. Or plant in late August to early September for fall blooming. Plant in small pots or flats for transplanting later, or plant seed directly where you want them to grow. Once the plants begin to bloom, it's a good idea to keep the seed heads cut off, to encourage the plant to continue blooming. If you don't, most varieties will simply bloom for a few weeks and go to seed and the plant will die.
For more information about the Herb of the Year, visit the International Herb Association website: http://www.iherb.org/ and the Herb Society of America site: http://www.herbsociety.org/