Cosmos and other annual flowers
It pays to read the description carefully when ordering and planting seeds. I wanted to plant a lot of Cosmos ‘Sensation’ white in a new flower border in the vegetable garden. ‘Sensation’ strain grows a metre or more tall with handsome fresh green fern-like leaves topped with 30cm long wands carrying large flowers well clear of the foliage. An elegant plant which, in our climate, comes into its own in late summer and autumn.
For the past many years I’ve only been able to get mixed colours, soft pink, carmine and white. What I wanted was a strain of white flowered Cosmos ‘Sensation’. I was browsing seed catalogues last winter and came across and ordered the seed I wanted except that it wasn’t. What I ordered was Cosmos ‘Sonata White’ not the ‘Sensation White’ seed I thought I was ordering. While I’m sure ‘Sonata’ has many good points I’m blind to them. Its dwarf compact habit is just what I don’t want in a Cosmos.
I did plant Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’ which is looking really wonderful at the moment in a new flower border in the vegetable garden.
As well as ‘Sensation’ I grew three other strains of Cosmos bipinnatus.
‘Versaille’, which the seed catalogue said was excellent for cut flowers, turned out to be like a second rate ‘Sensation. I pulled it out before the season was over.
I’ve grown a dwarf form of the annual Spider Flower, Cleome hassleriana, this year. Whilst I love the old strain, close to the wild species as it is found in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, it does make a huge plant some 150cm or more tall by nearly as much wide. My garden is large enough to accommodate such a giant but smaller gardens would struggle find a spot for it. Cleome ‘Sparkler’ is genetically dwarf and this season has grown 60cm tall by 50cm across. Although dwarf in habit it has produced full sized heads of flowers in shades of white soft pink, deeper pink and mauve pink. The foliage, which is a bit a marihuana like, is healthy and dark green. ‘Sparkler is in full flower now and will keep blooming until we get our first frost. I raised seedlings in pots of this strain as the seed is quite expensive. We had a cool spring and early summer so I didn’t plant the seedlings out until the end of December.
I have grown cockscomb, or crested Celosia for the first time this season. I hadn’t grown them in the past because I wrongly assumed my wife, Criss Canning, would find them vulgar. The strain I planted is Cramer series which has been selected by an American cut flower growing family. It’s done well in two flower borders and began to bloom in January from a spring planting. It’s terrific cut flower and always causes comments when in a mixed posy. The largest flowers look like velvet lamb’s brains or the hats that women wore to church sixty years ago.