Dead head and you'll have chocolate-scented flowers until autumn

A honey bee foraging on a Cosmos flower, collecting nectar and pollen

A honey bee foraging on a Cosmos flower - Credit: Archant

The main objective this week has been to keep rehydrated in order to prioritise enjoying all that hard work earlier in the year.

The flower patch has accelerated with all the recent water from the rain gods and that carefully collected in the various water butts and trugs by me.

A few weeks ago I had a clear out of flower seed and broadcast them in bare patches to fend for themselves with some sporadic watering alongside the tomatoes and chillies.

This week has seen one of my all-time favourite flowers pushing its delicate foliage up towards the sunshine.

Cosmos in all its forms never fails to excite with its geometric stems and slender stalks spiralling underneath wide daisy-shaped flowers in multiple colours always with a bright yellow centre.

Their red, pink and white pastel shades draw you in to look closer at the gentle contrasts spread across the petals.

I adore them so much I can’t ever remember a time they've not been swaying around in my garden.

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Cosmos comes from the Greek word meaning ordered or harmony which sums them up perfectly.

Their creased and paper thin petals are evenly placed and can instil harmony when closely  inspected.

There is even a cosmos variety that looks like and smells like dark chocolate. I'm sure its just a matter of time until they produce a cosmos for every different chocolate bar.

Unimaginatively, this is nicknamed Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus).

The beauty of this is that it can be planted as a tuber that will start its growth in late spring and then offer you a procession of chocolate-scented flowers through to late autumn, as long as you are fastidious about dead heading them.

Given cosmos is a legendary flower in any cutting garden, it’s not surprising to find that there are different cultivars available.

The best of these is the Sonata series that only really differ in height.

The original cosmos is tall and slender, often reaching 5ft in height.

The Sonata series only really reach about 60cm but are just shorter replicas of the real thing.

As cosmos was first introduced in 1799 from Mexico it loves a sunny spot and its blooms really last facing into the sunshine.

Without sun, they always seem to embody depression after they've been soaked through in a heavy shower with their heads bowed and dripping tears.

I'm pleased to report that they seem to come back brighter as soon as it’s sunny.

In some countries in South America they grow like weeds, dancing in the heat haze. I wouldn’t mind weeds like that! 

Cosmos purity just keep on producing more blooms after they have been cut and just continue producing them like a florists conveyor belt.

Even their leaves are worthy of more attention than some actual flowers.

Their deep green, lace-like structure is often imitated on the catwalk but never quite improved.

The silky fronds provide a good deal of interest even before the first pure white flower opens its eyes.  

If, like me, you also like a bit of orange in the garden then Cosmos polidor is worth a shot.

These will produce delicate, sublime flowers on the orange day glow spectrum including reds and yellows.  

Broadcast the husky seeds onto raked soil and scruffily cover with compost before watering them in and keeping them watered whenever you remember or if there is any water left over from whatever else you’re doing.

It's genuinely surprising how easy they are to germinate.

You can thin them out like carrots to a foot apart when they are seedlings but I often don’t.

Once they are above slug and snail height, they have very few pests of diseases that impact on them, and they are away.  

The bees love them and provide hours of entertainment watching their balance get tested on the swaying wispy petals.