Cosmos have a very special place in my garden for a very special reason.
This morning, while I was filling the kettle, I looked out across the garden and saw two giant cerise pink flowers in full bloom. Sure enough, my Cosmos had finally opened up.
I planted my Cosmos in April after the passing of my beloved father. Dad was a beekeeper and he was enthusiastic about beekeeping. I couldn’t be involved with the beekeeping that my mother and brother had taken on, but I could still do something about bee conservatism.
Armed with the internet, I set out to find the best bee-friendly flowers that I could tolerate. I struggle with anthophobia, so finding flowers that wouldn’t make me want to pass out or vomit would be a challenge.
Lots of flowers were a no-go for me. Basically, if it’s tubular or has visible stamen – it’s not happening. Freesia, lilies and passionflower were all a no for me, and don’t even get me started on taller plants or larger flowers like hibiscus.
It took a lot of grimacing and looking away. Every now and then, Google suggested something that my flower-phobic little eyes would hate, including allowing my much-detested bindweed to flower instead of killing it. Eventually, after hours of anthological torture, I had my list of the things that I would grow;
Sweet Williams, lavender, creeping thyme, verbena, hardy begonia, astilbe and Cosmos.
I also allowed my deep red roses and blush pink hydrangea to stay, even if they refused to feed the bees. There, a perfect little cottage garden.
The creeping thyme and verbena would look beautiful in the towering planter I had. In my mind’s eye, they’d grow outwards and trail down. In reality, they died back and scorched to a crisp in the intense summer sun. Well, I tried.
The Sweet Williams were hardy and provided colour for many months. Sadly, I found out afterwards that they die after blooming, so they will need to be replaced next year.
The begonia, roses and hydrangea are all doing very well, the roses have finally dropped their petals and started to die back until next year, The lavender and astilbe also did well and provided gentle fragrance yet I still somehow preferred the sweet smell of a buddleja, maybe next year.
Then there was the Cosmos.
The Cosmos seemed to go on forever and ever, towering taller and taller and never quite coming to a flower. I planted twelve and lost eight over time. Two more I believe have died off, but the other two have come to a flower. Late to arrive, but right when I needed him, a little sign that he is still here.
Around September time, my Seasonal Affective Disorder begins to act up. The days become shorter and darker, the nights become longer and colder and summer seems so finite. For the past two years, the years when it became hardest to cope, my Dad was always my rock and a great support during my tough times of winter. Now, it’s pretty much me and me alone.
Grief is an absurd thing. The things you think will affect you most pass with little or no effect and the things you think will comfort you provide you with the most anguish of all. When I said goodbye to my Dad’s coffin, I was completely resolute, yet when I called dog treats “tasties” like he used to I was utterly beside myself. All we can do is allow these little reminders to remind us of those that we’ve lost, and perhaps just as much, allow them to remind us that they are still there.