Friday, June 12, 2009

Yellow Cosmos, My Happy Accident, a Little Gift from God

I am the kind of amateur naturalist that always looks for sights never seen by me before. Mother Nature feely hands me these little gifts every day or two, and she does so all on my little postage stamp of a yard.

Because of these natural gifts from “Mom Nature” I’m in the habit of carrying my digital camera around with me specifically for those just-in-case moments. I want to be ready to "snap away" with my trusty digi-cam as I search in my daily yard strolls for what I now refer to as “God’s happy little accidents.”

For instance, I spotted a tiny plant sprouting at the base of one of my rock garden features. From the look of the infant pinnate leaf foliage my first impression was that it was a baby version of a plant that I used to call ragweed, although what I thought of as ragweed is not what is displayed as such in Wikipedia. As a kid in Michigan I’d pulled many of these marigold-like plants over the course of my thousands of hours weeding gardens and lawn areas on the grounds of our acre or so of ex-farmland.

Like I do with most wild plants that find a way to sprout on the property I live on here, I opted not to pull this little sprout with fern-like leaves. For one thing I wasn’t sure if it actually was that plant that I knew as ragweed since back home they don’t exist singly like this one; in Michigan and throughout the US they come up by the scores and even by the thousands resembling a drably weedy version of marigold. The fact that this one was solitary intrigued me. I left it alone and even placed two stones around it to keep the maid from stepping on it.

‘Let’s see what it grows up to be.’

Over the next week or two it developed a more complicated system of foliage and I realized that rather than ragweed it now reminded me more of a daisy. By comparison, ragweed greenery is thicker than and not as shiny as what I was seeing on this more delicate plant. I began to assume that it actually was some kind of daisy, probably from a seed dropped off serendipitously in that spot by a bird or a by the wind—like I said, another “happy accident.”

My expectation grew at the appearance of a flower bud. What color would it be? How large the blossom? (. . .What a nerd I am, eh?)

Finally, I came home one afternoon and there it was, and it was fantastic. It was yellow, but not a pure yellow, more of a burnt yellow, like an oil paint yellow with a hint of
brown mixed smoothly in. Chance placed it in a fairly shadowy area where the yellow flower heads seem to pop like tiny visual detonations. The eye is drawn to them from all the way across the yard.

I went online to try to identify it. After searching through a half dozen web images of “yellow flowers” I discovered one in flickr titled “
yellow cosmos.” From the aspect of the photo it seemed similar to my flower. I followed up in Wikipedia and confirmed it. Indeed, my flower is of the genus of plants called Cosmos.

Cosmos—what a perfect name for this yellow blossoming plant! Supposedly, it originates in the Americas, although I also see references that it grows throughout the Asian tropics, including Malaysia and Thailand. Certain types of cosmos are even used as an herb.

I still don’t know if cosmos grows in the wild here, or if mine happens to have been blown in or dropped off by a bird from a neighbor’s yard. R
egardless, I’m now collecting it's seeds and drying them to try to further propagate it. My one spindly plant is tending to droop and lay down; so I’m thinking that they grow better in a bed. I’ll have to see how that goes.

Isn’t the internet awesome? It definitely makes me realize how much I do not know. Truthfully, I had never heard of cosmos before. . . . So much to learn—so little time. Sigh. . .

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At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Kathleen Argonza said...

Hey, nice... I almost wish i had a garden, but.. i'll probably end up killing them. And to me, a cosmo is an alcoholic beverage.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

I've killed lots of plants trying to grow them. Its how you learn. I love to experiment. Most times--failure. But on occasion... pure loveliness.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Amadeo said...

At first glance, they reminded me of dandelions which are quite common in the West Coast.

Do the flowers change over time, like dandelions?

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Opass said...

Like Kathleen I've had some really bad luck with plants. I tried buying and nurturing plants when living in the US but they just kept dying and leaving me feeling very guilty. I now have a small space here in the Philippines, perhaps 1 meter by 3 meters, where I can plant. I've used your hints, Phil, about composting and am finally doing decently. So far my plants are growing and not making me feel like a wicked killer. And I have large lively earthworms just like you have.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Danelions? Dang, must have been the fastest worst first glance on record. You have to have your eyes OPEN for it to be considered a glance. snicker...

So, if your plants all die now, what the heck, call your plot a worm farm and call it a success!

At 6:04 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:45 AM, Blogger Hope said...

I used to work with these in wedding bouquets a lot...there is one called a chocolate cosmos for the very reason it suggests...its this deep velvety red brown..lovely.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

I never get tired of flowers, the sexual organs of plantlife! Think of that the next time you stick your nose deep into one. Smirk...

At 1:12 AM, Blogger mpalmero said...

Beautiful pics, Phil! Our blog just did a post about the yellow cosmos that I think you might like. You can check it out here. We do a new wallpaper like that with a new flower every week.


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