PHYLLIS ODESSEY

A Cosmic Mistake

I don’t like making mistakes,
especially in the public realm. 
There is always plausible deniability,
but that never works for me. 


As Director of Horticulture for Randall’s Island, 
I have been working with compacted urban environments for 5 years.
  In 2010 we created two Native Wildflower meadows on Randalls. 

I thought I knew what I was doing.  Everything bloomed and bloomed.  The cosmos sulphureus was so prolific, it took over in unexpected and surprising ways.

Yesterday we cut down all the cosmos sulphureus.  Yes, it’s an annual and I know what that means:  it lives only one year, but not really.  Once it sets seed, you might as well consider it a perennial.  But that wasn’t the problem. 

In designing the meadow, I considered bloom time and color, but I miscalculated the height issue.  Cosmos is taller, in fact it was the tallest flower in the meadow.  The meadow became a sea of saffron.  I hadn’t seen that much orange since standing next to the Buddhist monks on the river boat in Bangkok.  A few hellenium and echinacea managed to give the cosmos a run for its money.  Still there was no way to compete with the strength of that princely colored plant. 

A big pick-up truck is a joy.  In a case like this, nothing is handier.

We piled the cosmos onto the back of truck.  We wanted to make sure we cut it down before it had a chance to set seed.  We thought about adding the cosmos to the  compost pile, but we were afraid:  the seeds might remain in the compost.  
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It’s hard to trash something so beautiful.  We harvested some of the seed for another garden.  I am currently looking for a home for this magnificent intruder.


*It is my desire to garden in the most sustainable way possible.

As recipent of the 2012 Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development, I will going back to the UK to study with Professor James Hitchmough.  My focus will be on creating plant communities in urban environments. 

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