Pondering the cosmos

“I look out of this window and I think this is a cosmos, this is a huge creation, this is one small corner of it. The trees and birds and everything else and I'm part of it. I didn't ask to be put here, I've been lucky in finding myself here.”  Morris West 1916- 1999
I suspect that Morris West was not referring to the Cosmos I am thinking of when I sat down to write this post, and yet, and yet, I reach for the dictionary and see that cosmos means “a complete, orderly, harmonious system and I wonder if actually he was looking at Cosmos Bipannatus?

Cosmos Bipannatus is a native of Mexico.  It is a half-hardy annual and will to some extent self-seed, but not in my garden reliably so.  The seeds are easy to harvest and when bought from a seed company are generally inexpensive and incredibly easy and reliable to germinate.
This year has not been a good cosmos year for me.  The long cold Spring meant I was quite late in sowing them this year.  Then the prolonged grey wet sunless days seems to have held them back even further.  Funnily enough whilst most of my annuals have been targeted mercilessly by slugs and snails, this year the Cosmos seem to have survived that pretty well.  It has taken so long though for buds to appear.

It is, however, always worth the wait.  Once they start to flower they repeat prolifically and keep flowering up until the first frosts if regularly deadheaded.  They also benefit from having beautiful ferny/delicate foliage which is worthwhile in its own right.

The flowers attract bees and hoverflies so they are good for attracting insects into the garden  This is a good plant;  I used to know someone who sniffed in a snobbish manner at Cosmos.  “they are common” I was informed, and “everyone grows them, they are too showy, too easy.”  I will not bore you with my reply, but it ended in ‘off’.  For one thing I am not interested in this sort of opinion, who defines what is common or not? (and who cares?), for another telling me a plant is showy and easy is not a reason not to grow it!  Surely that makes it a dream plant? 
Cosmos is a good mingler, it can stand up well with its companions and makes a great impact.  It did exactly what I wanted it to when I put it in with the tithonia and the Helianthus 'Lemon Queen', the colours are wonderful and they all bob together competing for the sun and the bees.  You can almost hear them shouting 'me, me, me, me' as they try and grab your attention as you walk past.

Which brings me neatly to:  To the dumb question, why me? The cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: 'Why not.'”   Christopher Hitchens 1949 -


  1. I think Cosmos is a must for both a prairie and a cottage style garden. Although styles of gardening are usually more blurred around the edges, these plants pretty much suit most types of gardens.

    1. Agreed, I have them in my cottagey borders, but their height and swaying tendencies would make them fine in a prairie situation. They would not be out of place.

  2. A gorgeous flower! hope to have it in our garden at some stage.

  3. I adore cosmos, and if that makes me common, so be it! What a ridiculous sentiment. Am planning to sow lots next year, including "sulphurus" whcih will be new to me, but always, always, 'Purity'. What's not to love?

  4. Beautiful cosmos. I have one final deep red that is blooming its heart out. Want to save those seeds. I think I have posted a shot or two of it recently. Enjoyed my visit. Jack


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