Bring the Magic home with Cosmos & Sunflowers!

On a recent trip travelling to Clarens and passing through Heilbron towards Reitz and then Bethlehem I passed magical sloping hills of acre upon acre of majestic giant sunflowers.  The sight of green and gold is breath taking!  There is such a beautiful display of natural obedience as their heads stay turned towards the sun in complete unison.  This will never cease to amaze me.  Have you ever noticed a single sunflower turn her head in any other direction, but the sun?  Come nightfall, they steadily drop their crowns until the sun has finally set for the evening’s rest.  At the break of dawn, the proud rise of their heads repeats the cycle of the new day.  This thought reminded me of Ed Blair’s beautiful poem:

 ” Oh sunflower! The queen of all flowers,
No other with you can compare,
The roadside and fields are made golden
Because of your bright presence there.
Above all the weeds that surround you
You raise to the sun your bright head,
Embroidering beautiful landscapes
Your absence would leave brown and dead”. 

Dreamily admiring the beauty and taking in the fresh air, I noticed the lace-like sprinkle of confetti scattered along the side of the road and framing the beautiful sunflower display. Imagine the contrast!  Delicate, yet strong, Cosmos flowers adorned the open spaces in the fields and meadows, filling it with gorgeous pastels. Nature’s canvas is truly beautiful!  Their delicate colours ranging from pure white and light pink to bright pink and deep fuchsia.  

Vincent van Goch was totally fascinated with sunflowers. He painted a total of 5 large canvasses of sunflowers in vases and many artists have tried their hand at the Van Gogh sunflower style.  Now, I wonder, imagine his surprise if he was introduced to a Red Sunflower?! Perhaps he was and perhaps he wasn’t, but his famous paintings might have had a different tinge!  These beauties are notoriously attractive and inviting to pollinators. I have often been surprised with shades from bright yellow to deep burnt orange! Some even bleed into a soft red hue and others into a yellow or cream hue.  I have seen colours of cream to gold, mahogany and chocolate brown and even pink ones but if you ever find a blue one, well…I suppose Alice in Wonderland would know!! 

In awe of the feast my eyes enjoyed, I vowed to attempt to re-create what I saw travelling through the beautiful Eastern Free State.   The beautiful varieties that will frame the landscape of my garden against the backdrop of majestic sunflowers, adding hues of bright orange, yellow and deep red flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators. It is said that the Cosmos flower symbolises order and harmony with its orderly arrangement of petals, representing balance, tranquillity, peace, love, innocence, joy, and beauty. 

Both Sunflowers and Cosmos are easy and quick to grow. Being an annual, sow your Cosmos seeds directly into the soil in a sunny spot as soon as the possibility of frost has passed.  Sprouts will develop quickly, and seedlings will emerge anything from 5 to 21 days.  Keep the soil moist and water it daily if needed.  As soon as the sprouts become established, you can taper down the watering frequency.  If you want to stagger your Sunflower plants, sow a new row of seeds every two to three weeks at the beginning of Spring. This will ensure a continuous bloom.  Both Cosmos and Sunflowers do well as container plants too, so why not bring a little bit of the magic home!!

 About the Author

Michele Fourie is the Seeds for Africa General Manager. Michele loves growing beautiful flowers, chilli plants and is passionate about exceptional customer. service. Michele is also a fundi in the kitchen. Check out her blog post on making your own sweet pickled piquant cherry peppers at this link.