The Cosmos in My Garden

Part of the cosmos


Close-up of a ppink cosmos flower with yellow pollen in the centre.
A cosmos opening its face to the sun at Evergreen.

My favourite flower is the cosmos. I planted a punnet of them years ago and now they self-seed, springing up every summer in unexpected places throughout the garden, in white or shades of pink through to pale purple. They emerge from cracks between slabs, come out from under wooden garden-border sleepers, pop up in flowerpots meant for other things, and nestle cheekily between the spinach.


I love their simple, open faces, and the way they dance on long slender stalks in the wind as they follow the sun from east to west throughout the day. I love that wherever they are they do their cosmos thing – making the world a better place.


When our daughter decided several years ago to get married in the garden in mid-March, I was conscious that it would be autumn and not too many flowers would still be around. My hope lay in the cosmos to carry the moment. They were especially tall that year and I feared they’d fall over before the great day. But they hung on after summer finished, dancing delightfully and defiantly in the early winds and light showers. Keep upright, keep living, keep being beautiful, I whispered to them every day as the wedding approached. They heard me, and their sweet faces followed Merribeth as she walked up the garden path to her true love waiting on the top step.


The cosmos in my garden are really wildflowers. I have no control over them. They appear where conditions are perfect for them, and they don’t ask my permission. They are a gift, an offering of Mother Nature from her bounteous basket.


In his poem ‘God’s Grandeur’, the nineteenth-century Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote this, referring to the natural world:


There lives the dearest freshness deep down things


That line reminds me of the self-sown cosmos seeds hiding just under the soil in the garden, waiting for the sun to wake them up so they can surprise me with their appearance. Just because I can’t see them yet doesn’t mean they’re not there.


Besides being the name of a flower, the word cosmos is synonymous with the word universe, although there is a difference. The Latin word universe has a more technical sense; the Greek word cosmos evokes wonder. Cosmos has a grander ring to it and brings to mind the order and harmony contained within it. It encompasses the beautiful nature of all things.


The Bengali Nobel-prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his collection of poems titled Gitanjali:


The same stream of life

that runs through my veins night and day

runs through the world and dances

in rhythmic measures.


It is the same life

that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth

in numberless blades of grass and breaks into

tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.


The simple cosmos flowers in my garden are a reminder that we are all tiny parts of a harmonious whole.


The stream of life that flows through cosmos flowers is the same stream that flows through you and me.


We share our being with stardust, grasses, and wildflowers.


With love, Marlane

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