Thursday, January 31, 2013

Classy Cosmos

Today was frigidly cold and the temperatures were around -10 degrees F with the windchill.  It warmed up in to the teens but wasn't conducive to outdoor garden work.  The photo above shows the Parker Education Center this morning.  This weekend is the last for turning on some lights (in this area) for an event.  By Monday morning, the entire Holiday Lights Show (HLS) is done and can be brought back in for processing.  We're close to 80% done with the take down based on my estimation.  There was still some very light snow and blowing snow today with the high winds.  Bill O. toughed it out and did some snowblowing work on our primary paths.  He also touched up around the Horticulture Center.  Pat, Urban and Dick H. were outside briefly to bring in more garden structures for painting.  We had a full crew out in the Horticulture Center though.  Vern, Dave and Jim continued with various carpentry projects while Ron Y. continued sanding benches for future staining.  Urban, Pat and Dr. Gredler did some significant obelisk painting today and Pat came back this afternoon for some more work.  Gary continued creating our new volunteer signs for the gardens and Janice came in for various research and projects.  We also saw Mary W., Bob T., Big John and many others.  The picture below is from the back deck above the English cottage garden.  Despite my frozen fingers at this point, I thought it was a nice view!   

When I mentioned zinnias in the blog yesterday, I was thinking what a nice annual they are for extended color, long vase life, attracting wildlife, etc. and how appropriate they are for the cottage garden.  I then thought about all the neat cosmos we grow for that same purpose and for those same reasons.  I've included just a smattering of the dozen or so varieties that we'll feature this year out in the gardens.  Lynn S., our volunteer in the English cottage garden, used them to great effect in 2012 with all different colors and heights throughout this space.  We'll miss Lynn as she is moving but she "raised the bar" in that garden and we'll do our best to keep it up in 2013 to her standards!  The cosmos below is called "chocolate cosmos" (Cosmos atrosanguineus).  This plant has an interesting history.  It is native to Mexico where it is now extinct in the wild.  The original plant introduced in 1902 became the starting source for the divisions that were needed to propagate this plant.  This cosmos has a fleshy, tuberous root and the division of this tuber is how it is commonly propogated.  A perennial in zones 7-10, this plant is also a wonderful, full sun annual with a chocolate scent that becomes more prominent in the afternoon.  While they are not overly floriferous, the 2" diameter blooms are beautiful.  I've been told that the fleshy root can be stored as you would a canna or dahlia but I've not tried that yet.  We used these in our Smelly Garden for the past two years and they were a visitor favorite.

Larry took the day off and I had a day full of paperwork and meetings.  I was able to work on some presentations but am glad to get through a couple of piles on my desk today.  I'm ready to roll for the WPT Garden Expo ( next weekend (Feb. 8,9,10) and Big John, Denise and I will set up the booth next Thursday.  We always look forward to this event and despite the fact that I'll live and breath that event for three days, the idea of exposing 20,000+ visitors to the gardens is exciting.  Some other favorite cosmos varieties are included below.  In sequence, I've shown 'Cosmic Orange' (15"), 'Sonata White' (24"), 'Sunny Red' (24"), 'Rubenza' (32"), 'Double Click White' (36") and 'Double Click Pink' (36") at the bottom.  All of these have a long bloom time and the butterflies will enjoy them as well.  

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