Let Us Praise The Cosmos

All hail The Cosmos. We don’t mean those celestial bodies floating in the heavens, although they are certainly not without merit. It is those in the botanical universe of which we speak. Not only are they giving the brightest color shot in the late summer garden, laughing gaily as many plantings around them sulk and droop from lack of rain, they attract a wide variety of friends. Note the tiny fashion forward striped leg extending seductively from behind the stamens of Cosmos sulphureus ‘Bright Lights’.

All of the visiting flying flowers make a snack stop on the multiflorous annual, Cosmos sulphureus ‘Cosmic Orange’ volunteers, including the rarely seen here Monarch.

Such a creation of exquisite delicacy, whose fragile legs manuever the stained glass wings expertly in the garden breezes.

It has been noticed that so many of the butterflies partaking of the delights of the Cosmic Oranges share that hue with the petals. Our friendly Pearl Crescent Silvery Checkerspot, thanks Randy, seems content while sipping the sweetness, allowing the camera toting gardener to creep closely to capture its image in pixels.

Which is the more beautiful, the flower or the creature?

How fortunate are we to have both. The Variegated Fritillary cares little about rankings or comparisons, and the Cosmos hardly wins The Most Beautiful Flower award. It matters not to the humans enjoying the spectacle of life moving bravely onward.

Those needing a butterfly fix may simply cast a glance at the planting opposite the garage deck ramp, where the copper bowl in the midst offers a drink to the thirsty with a rock on which to perch. There is a Buckeye in the upper left quadrant and a Variegated Fritt in the lower right quadrant. Or could that be the elusive Gulf Fritillary?

A positive identification can be made from this angle, and the aforementioned copper bowl and rock landing can be noticed, if one can focus on anything other than the flower and friend, that is.

The host plant for the larvae of the Gulf Fritillary is the Passiflora alliance. This creature is food specific, unlike other butterflies such as the skippers which are generalists. Without the weedy and somewhat invasive Passionflower, there will be none of the crimson orange with black spiked caterpillars that will magically transorm into the same colored flutterby. Last year not a single Gulf Fritt was seen in the garden even though the passionflower vine was allowed to colonize the garage deck railing area. There was a welcome back party held this year over by the Fairy Gazebo after the sighting, in case anyone was wondering.

Friend or foe? It doesn’t matter, all are welcome.

It is not only the butterflies that gather sustenance from the Cosmos. Please forgive the blurry image of the hummingbird above. The camera seemed intent only on focusing on the flowers. Silly Canon.

A post was written about the first year planting of the Cosmic Orange Cosmos that can be seen by clicking here-Cosmic Cosmos Confusion.


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28 Responses to Let Us Praise The Cosmos

  1. Frances, Dawn is casting a rosy glow to the cool landscape as I sit before your warm oranges. I will join you in praising the lovely Cosmos. I especially love this variety that reflects the colors in your flutterby friends. Lovely post in words and images that share the magical union of flowers and butterflies. I am so glad you have a Monarch passing through… your garden is offering fuel for her long journey to Mexico. ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks so much. You hatch those monarchs up there then send ’em on down! We have plenty of food, water and habitat to help them along their journey. If only we were on the flight path, we would see many more. I have seen them prepare to cross Lake Erie while in Canada. The trees had more orange wings than green leaves, there were thousands of them. A most amazing sight. πŸ™‚

  2. Carol says:

    Good use of the color orange today, to attract those butterflies!

    Good morning, Carol, thanks. That is a loud screeching orange color and the butterflies adore it. πŸ™‚

  3. Eileen says:

    Gorgeous photos Frances. I don’t know if I can get that close with my Canon. Do you use a telephoto lens?


    Hi Eileen, thanks. I use a point and shoot on auto. I have to get really close, sometimes they let me, sometimes I am frustrated but keep on trying! πŸ™‚

  4. Layanee says:

    I know you planted those so you could have a harmonious color combination of flora and fauna. Both are beautiful and I do know how hard it is to capture the picture of the elusive butterfly and hummingbird. You must wear felt slippers so you can sneak up on them.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. I could say that, yes, but it would be untrue. I planted those cosmos in the first place because they were supposed to be one foot tall! And I love orange. It is hard to sneak up on them with those gravel paths and I am usually in sloggers or flip flops. I will try more quiet footwear next time, thanks for the idea! πŸ™‚

  5. Laurrie says:

    I’m so glad to see these orange beauties and their flitting visitors. I had a whole orange / hot color thing going in my back garden, and cosmos was supposed to be the summer mainstay of it. Only a few seeds germinated and only one of those bloomed, about 8 inches tall in the very back (unlike your first year 8 foot monster at the front!!) I love seeing yours, as mine were really no shows. Might try again next year, they are such a happy flower and they certainly attract the wildlife!

    Hi Laurrie, thanks. I love orange in the garden, especially in the harsh and glaring summer sun. Most other colors melt away. We plant a lot of seeds to get only a few plants. The volunteers do best, naturally. I have been pruning these cosmos like they are shrubbery to keep them about chest high, perfect for photo shooting. Do keep trying, then scatter the seeds as the heads mature and you will have a nice stand of them. πŸ™‚

  6. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, I like that loud screeching butterfly orange very much~especially in the shot with the familiar looking catt~but not familiar enough to ID! Cosmos has the perfect landing pad for these beauties~Love the hummer shot~I’ve never noticed them at cosmos before~that’s way cool! xxoogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. I was hoping someone would know what that catt is, didn’t see it in my butterfly book. I was surprised by the hummer visiting, pleasantly surprised. Now I will scatter even more seeds on bare ground to ensure a good stand of them for next year.

  7. Darla says:

    The cosmos seed that you sent me? The plants were over 6 feet tall, they have been pulled up or cut down and now I have little seedlings sprouting all over. What a fantastic show they put one!

    Hi Darla, hooray! I have been pruning these cosmos to keep them a more normal size. Glad you have babies! πŸ™‚

  8. “The cosmos is all that is, all the was, and all that ever will be.” I do miss Carl Sagan! I also love terrestrial cosmos flowers, in all colors. And my Canon has trouble focusing too, but the Mexican hat is awesome.

    Hi Monica, oh that is a great quote! Thanks. The Mexican Hat is doing better this year for some reason. I am hoping to get some self sowns of it.

  9. Randy Andrson says:

    Good morning. Enjoyed seeing your Cosmos. It, too, is one of my favorite late summer flowers. I enjoy seeing the butterflies as well as American Gold finches eating there seeds later in the season. It flowers well into Oct. and is a great nectar plant for all the late leaving butterflies. Thanks again for a wonderful blog.

    Hi Randy, thanks so much for those kind words! I love the brilliant flower color of these cosmos and seeing the wildlife it attracts. The goldfinches have been extra busy picking at rudbeckias and echinaceas this year. Glad there was a good crop for them.

  10. D’oh! I forgot to sow my Cosmos seeds this year. I shall now proceed to kick myself awhile.

    Hi MMD, thanks for dropping by. The cosmos seeds will keep until next year. No kicking necessary. πŸ™‚

  11. Jeannette says:

    I must admit, orange is my absolute least favorite color – I pulled up a huge patch of dalylilies because they clashed with everything I had. But after seeing this post, I want to add orange cosmos to my garden! Thanks for the eyeopener. Jeannette

    Hi Jeanette, thanks. I used to feel that way about orange myself, until my neighbor showed me the light. She was right, the summer sun turns paler colors to dust. No wonder brilliant color is used so often in South America and Africa near the Equator for everything. I hope you will be happy with the orange cosmos, the wildlife will be. πŸ™‚

  12. Leslie says:

    I’m loving all the wonderful butterfly photos that are appearing in the blogosphere…and yours are some of the best. Just lovely!

    Hi Leslie, thanks so much. It does seem to be a good butterfly year in gardens and therefore on the blogs. I appreciate those kind words. Especially since I am just a point and shoot on auto gal. πŸ™‚

  13. eliz says:

    I love Cosmos …the vodka, the Cointreau, the lime, the cranberry. It is truly an inspired combination.

    Oh, I see. Yeah, those are nice too.

    You are too funny, Elizabeth! Cranberry floats my boat, but these flowers are indeed, nice too. πŸ™‚

  14. Patsi says:

    Didn’t realize that butterflies love cosmos.
    We see them on ours most of the time.
    Sure is a lovely sight.
    Funny line ‘camera toting gardener ‘ sounds like all of us.

    Hi Patsi, thanks. The Cosmos are very popular with the orange butterflies and the occasional hummingbird here. All the more reason to plant more. Isn’t it fun to take pictures of our gardens? It is what started me blogging, to share them. πŸ™‚

  15. commonweeder says:

    I too join the praise song for the cosmos. I only have pink and white, but I am thinking that Cosmic orange might be just the thing I need for one of the Lawn Beds to take it from summer into fall. Can you believe I have almost no yellow ro gold in my garden?

    Hi Pat, thanks for adding your voice to the chorus! It sounds like you need more warm colors in your garden! Cosmos fit the bill and are so easy, the butterflies are a bonus. πŸ™‚

  16. The cosmos are lovely. The shot of orange really brightened my day. I got my daily fix of beautiful butterflies, too. Glad I subscribe.

    Hi Donna, thanks so much for being a subscriber! I really appreciate that kind of loyal readership! Glad you liked the orange and flutterbys, they made my day a happy one as well. πŸ™‚

  17. Joey says:

    Definitely ‘praiseworthy’, Frances. Happy September πŸ™‚

    Hi Joey, In praise of September indeed! πŸ™‚

  18. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love those cosmos that attract those heavenly bodies. And yes ‘”Hope” is the thing with feathers- That perches in the soul-‘

    Hi Lisa, thanks. …And sings the tune- without the words. And never stops at all. That is my favorite E. Dickenson work. I painted it on the wall in my other TN house. Wonder if it is still there?

  19. A toss up in the beauty pageant…beauty surrounds you, Frances…as well it should.

    Hi Ricki, what a sweet thing to say, thanks! Both are amazing, I would not want to have to choose one over the other. πŸ™‚

  20. Barbara says:

    I so enjoy seeing your pictures and reading your perspective on plants. Looking forward to a cooler weekend! Will be at UTK gardens next Tues.

    Hi Barbara, thanks very much. I certainly hope things will cool down, but more so, that we could get some much needed rain. Have fun at the gardens, wish I could meet you there, but sad to say, I cannot.

  21. I think the Cosmos is my favorite late summer flower. Unfortunately I haven’t got a single one in my garden. Ah maybe next year. Love your photos!

    Hi Helen, thanks. While it is difficult to have a favorite, the cosmos are certainly the stars this year. Seeds will be scattered and saved for next year’s production! πŸ™‚

  22. Randy says:


    Is that one of those cosmos like the orange? I’ve known the orange to bloom, drop seeds and grow seddlings into more blooms as the adults continue to bloom.

    Your Pearl Crescent is actually the less common Silvery Checkerspot.

    Hi Randy, thanks. I was thinking that was the Silvery, but couldn’t find it in my book and the online photos didn’t help. I will change it. As for your other question, I am not sure I understand. These plants are from last year’s dropped seeds. I haven’t let the seed heads mature on them mature yet, to keep the plants smaller, but need to let them now so I have some plants next year! πŸ™‚

  23. Rose says:

    I bow down in homage to the Cosmos, too, Frances. They certainly are butterfly and bee magnets, and I find myself taking so many photos of them for that reason, too. But I’ve yet to see a hummingbird on mine–great capture here, even if the camera didn’t understand your intentions. I was disappointed that very few of the pink doubles I planted came up; I think they got crowded out by all the volunteers in my butterfly garden. But the ‘Cosmic Orange’ more than make up for any lack of pink.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I am so glad you have them too. Save the seed and you will have them from now on. I was surprised about the hummer, pleasantly! I planted some free double pinks that never came up. The C. sulphurs do better here.

  24. Teresa O says:

    Hello Frances…I am a great fan of cosmos, cleome, and zinnias deemed old-fashioned. Your Cosmic orange is bright and alluring and transcends into something even more lovely with a butterfly perched on petals.

    Hi Teresa, thanks so much. I love the old fashioned flowers, but cannot get cleome going here for some reason, after several tries, I give up. But zinnias are doing okay, nothing like Cosmic Orange though. There is something about that variety that loves our conditions, so we will keep planting that type. πŸ™‚

  25. I should say ‘hail the Cosmos’!! I love these hot, hot colors. Gorgeous photos, as always, Frances. Here’s to a fun Labor Day weekend!

    Hi Kate, thanks so much. That orange just pops in the garden right now. The prettiest thing and the butterflies such a bonus too. You too have a wonderful holiday weekend. πŸ™‚

  26. Randy says:

    What exclamation points of color!

    Hi Randy, thanks, so nice to see you. The orange is outstanding, literally! πŸ™‚

  27. Anna says:

    What an array of dazzling butterfly visitors Frances ~ I am most envious and all beautifully photographed too.

    Hi Anna, thanks so much. We are having a better year with the butterflies than last, for some reason. They are very photogenic, and so are the orange cosmos. πŸ™‚

  28. Barry says:

    Oh, my gosh! those tall yellows are the ones that I had 5 years ago and lost. Who has some for trade? I have Festuca Glauca available from this fall’s harvest.

    Hi Barry, thanks for visiting. I would suggest you go to another forum to find people to trade with. Or just buy some seeds. Ours came from Walmart.

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