It's All Heath Robinson With the Cosmos

Thus spake the gardener: 'And low you shall let your crappy shed fall down and take the one by ones from its structure, not the rotten wavy lap, not the two by two festered with rot and woodworm, not the rather big spiders that made you screech and run away for they are useless as supports though you'd think all those legs would be useful. You shall turn the one by ones into posts for dahlias and cosmos and other flowery things, and possibly for little signs to tell gnomes to "bugger off" (though the making of little signs will be gnome like and is one step away from a plastic wishing well). And, we shall call this new structure made in an evening a Heath Robinson construction with string and knots, and nothing sparkly because that would involve glue and be too Blue Peter, and the finished thing will look like it will be blown down by a gnome fart (though we do not endorse the farting of gnomes), Amen'. Yes, we're making Heath Robinson's structures for the cosmos, not making sense of the cosmos via Heath Robinson religions: 'And yea! He did make shapes from shrubbery!'

Heath Robinson structures in the garden.

The lupins are waning (we are suddenly aware that every line in this blog post is becoming a religious metaphor), their seed dropping to the soil below (see what we mean?) and that frankly something has to take over from them (no metaphor there, just the undercurrent of dictatorship in which we'll state the media is out to get us with Scooby Doo). That's the problem with lupins, they look great on the first flower, dead head, and the second flowering is smaller but equally impressive and then the whole lot just seem to get spindly and rather, well...meh. All that education and the only word we can come up with to catch how it looks is...meh. It's true though, it is! We have had cosmos waiting to go in the ground, we weeded this area a fortnight ago and left to see if any weeds wanted to take over in a ruthless dictatorship (we're off again). Cosmos are wonderful, this year we're growing Fizzy (from King's Seeds £1.75) and they have come up in abundance. We have them in a veg patch at the top of the garden, in the veg patch in the middle of the garden and now the majority of them have crept into the cottage garden but there is a truth about cosmos, they flower and flower and flower. This mad desire to keep flowering is also met by their vigor to grow. In the past we have constructed other Heath Robinson structures to support them. This year is no better in our desire to reuse.

How to support cosmos in the border

Now, for those people reading this going, 'Who the hell is this Heath Robinson guy, didn't he play the Joker?' No, that is the sadly departed Heath Ledger. If you look in the dictionary, you will find that this name has become an adjective (see, our education wasn't all wasted on cornflakes and day time television, only 75% of time spent at University was spent watching Supermarket Sweep) and simply means: 'ingeniously or ridiculously over-complicated in design or construction.' Why is our structure so complicated? We took down a shed to get the supports for it when we could have gone out and bought some bamboo canes. Yes, yes, yes, we are make do and mend mad but sometimes even we take it to an extreme that involves a sledgehammer, and a claw hammer to take out nails to get a few lengths to make stakes. So, how did we do it without having a tetanus? We cut the one by one inch wooden posts into three foot length stakes and drove them into the ground to form triangles, as in the photo above.

Make do and mend how to cut your own stakes for flower supports

We used string tied between these posts and filled each triangle with cosmos, around 5-7 plants in each triangle to provide support to each other and worked backwards, stringing as we went. The simple reason we didn't put all the string up first was that it becomes a trip hazard and we didn't want to feel like we'd slipped into the Crystal Maze and was about to get an automatic lock in after catching the string three times. Catching string, when you're using it as a support, is incredibly easy to do. That's Sod's Law. For those of you now screaming: 'First, bloody Robinson and now Sod! Who is Sod! Speak English you mad buggers!' There are two universal laws in life, many of you will know Murphy's law which states, 'that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong (eventually)'. Sod's Law though is a very Northern concept, and reflects possibly our weather, this law simply 'requires that it (and 'it' can be anything from a wedding to brewing a cup of tea) always goes wrong with the worst possible outcome (wedding destroyed by falling toast, cup of tea burns house down)'. See, Northern weather, it goes wrong all the time but seems to have innate comedy timing.

The finished supports for the cosmos

After awhile of doing the string you feel like you're in one of those nostalgic TV programmes, Everything Was Bloody Wonderful in the 80s, Jesus, Don't Make Me Live Through The Seventies Again or The Noughties, Who Gives A Stuff? Except this programme is all about cat cradles because somehow you're now stood in the middle of one, and you think your fingers got knotted up in those implements of torture? Think again when your legs are in the middle of it. So, why all this string? Why all this wanton destruction of sheds? We don't know. We know string does support cosmos and that strong wooden posts will be help that cat cradle hell in a hand basket journey.

Cat cradles and Supermarket Sweep, all in a day a Pig Row

However, this time Sod's Law does not prevail and everything goes well and in the morning we are rewarded with our first cosmos flower of the season...

Flowering cosmos fizzy

...and then it rains.


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