In creating the heroine’s home, I drew upon three of my personal interests, which are paganism, witchcraft, and Wicca. I have an extensive collection of resources on these subjects, some of which I learned first-hand from my maternal grandfather. Although it was never said outright, as I look back on my childhood and teen years, I realize my grandfather was probably a solitary practitioner of pagan beliefs. As a youngster, I knew the community thought he was odd and eccentric, but they seemed to accept his oddness with amused acceptance.
Now, back to my heroine’s home. Since the way she supports herself is by selling the tinctures, salves, oils, powders, etc. that she makes from the plants she grows, I spent a few paragraphs in the story telling about the plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers in her garden and around the house. One of the flowers my heroine grows is orange cosmos.
Although the flowers have a light, barely discernible scent, cosmos are not for picking, confining in a vase, and setting in the middle of the dining room table on display. These flowers are free spirits meant to be treasured in their natural environment. They are a silent flower, meaning they make no
sound in the wind when they rub against each other—they keep your secrets.
Cosmos are low-maintenance perennials that actually thrive in adverse conditions of poor soil and little water, but they do need a lot of sunlight. They bloom in late June to mid-July and will continue to bloom through frost. Once the flowers dry up, the seeds are available for hand-harvesting. Store in
such a way that they can dry out before putting them in a paper sack. You don't want them to mold. Stored seeds are still viable after several years of dormancy. If you plant a new bed of cosmos, just scratch them into the ground, and lightly cover with dirt to keep birds from eating the seeds.
The word 'cosmos' derives from the Greek 'kosmos', which means order and harmony (and 'the world'). Cosmos are considered group flowers because each individual flower grows close to its neighbor to offer the strength of community effort to withstand the onslaught of the wind. To take this farther, cosmos flowers embody a balance of all four elements of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, in that order, and here is why...
First and foremost, the cosmos is a flower of the wind. It thrives in windy conditions, which makes it a perfect prairie flower, which is where I live. Even though it is a tall plant, it reaches toward the sky and will often grow to chest high, especially the pink, purple, red, and white varieties. The orange variety, which is my favorite, has a different leaf structure than the pastels and does not grow as tall. All colors of flower heads sway in a graceful dance in the tiniest of breezes, they are flexible, yet strong enough to withstand even strong winds. The foliage is fernlike so there is an airy quality to it. The blossoms, though delicate, flutter with the wind rather than take the wind's battering, and the seeds are well-adapted to blowing in the wind for distribution. Seeds of the orange variety are longer than the pastel
Cosmos thrive in hot, sun-beaten conditions with little or even a lack of shade. It seems that they 'look' for places to grow that expose them to the heat and light of the sun without even the tiniest hope of shade. In the wild, cosmos choose to thrive in dry and sunbaked, ground, and they prosper
during the hottest, driest time of the year, which is during the height of the summer and into early autumn. The blossoms expand up and then outwards in the manner of the sun's rays. The centers of each flower are dark to flame-yellow, and the blossoms tend to orient their faces towards the sun. When the woody stems dry after frost, they can be used as fire-starter material.
At first look, the main stem of the cosmos flower appears spindly, even willowy, and certainly not strong enough to withstand winds, but they are actually thick, tough, and woody. They have a strong connection to the Earth element because of their expansive root system, which is in counterbalance
to the tall branching stems, thus allowing the plant to resist uprooting by wind.
Because the cosmos plant is made up of thin, flat, dry-to-the-feel leaves and stem that offer minimal area for transpiration or moisture retention, and that the plant physically needs little water to thrive, the element of Water may not, at first thought, be much of an influence in this plant. The seeds are also thin and dry, which makes them easily airborne. The root system does its job in inhospitable, even hostile, soil environments in the driest growing season. However, when water is available, the cosmos takes full advantage of the precious gift and does not waste a drop. Since the cosmos is in full bloom in the late summer/early autumn and is considered an autumn flower, the Water element is actually strong in it because the ancient Celtic calendar associates autumn with the element of Water.
So, to tie this back to my SSiP, my heroine has cosmos flowers growing all around her house to help keep harmony and balance in her life. *insert evil author laughter* She doesn't know it (because I haven't written it, yet), but I'm going to turn her harmony and balance upside down like a James Bond
martini—shaken, not stirred.
Until next month,
Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer
**Pictures are from Kaye's flower garden.**
Note - for more information about Cosmos flowers, visit: http://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-folklore and http://www.flowersociety.org/Cosmos-plant-study.htm