My Material Life

Captivating Cosmos

Would you believe I grew these flowers myself – in the ground and from seeds?

I can hardly believe it either, but it’s true. I think I’ve told you that I enjoy taking a look at Gardenista for daily inspiration. One of my favorite contributors to the site is Marie Viljoen. Last summer she wrote a post about things New York City dwellers do to bring beauty to whatever limited garden spaces they may be working with (she being an expert at that herself). But it wasn’t just the pictures she used that inspired me. It was her words, her phrases that hit me like a light bulb going off in my head. Things like, possibility is yours to command and my favorite, beauty is at your fingertips – exercise them. Wow! The truth is I wasn’t feeling that power back then, but I’ve been thinking about those phrases and what they mean to me ever since.

So a few months ago when I read somewhere that cosmos is a fast and unfussy flower to grow from seed – not picky about soil quality or needing much water once established – I decided to plant some in a strip next to lawn we created years ago, but never decided what to do with other than trying to keep it weeded and mulched. Forget about the grand plan for the yard (still unknown) or that this was not a permanent solution for the space. This was within my grasp, within my budget, a way to exercise those fingertips in my favorite pursuit of all, the pursuit of beauty.

These flowers bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. It’s surprising how easy they were to grow. I ordered my seeds from Renee’s Garden and planted four packages: one each of Sonata Knee-High, Dancing Petticoats, Rose Bon Bon and Double Click. I mostly followed the instructions on the package for how to plant, but I never did thin my seedlings. To prepare the soil all I did was move aside some mulch and lightly rake in a bag of compost. I planted the seeds on April 30 and the first bloom appeared on June 15. If I keep deadheading the flowers they should continue coming back probably through at least mid-fall where I live. The genus name cosmos is Greek and means harmony or balanced universe or something wonderful like that. Small winged creatures love these flowers too and I’m not just talking about the fairies. These are good for pollinators. A very satisfying project I can highly recommend.

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