Now that autumn is officially here I think it might be time to resurrect "Plant of the Week". Over the summer months there's so much in bloom to choose from that you don't really need a Plant of the Week, but lately I've found that familiar feeling of gratitude has been returning, whenever I see something looking particularly dandy amongst the piles of fading foliage.
This week I've especially noticed Cosmos doing its girly Barbie pink thing in the bursts of autumnal sunshine. Cosmos is a half-hardy annual, so it needs to be grown from scratch every year. You can't even think about planting it out until frost is a thing of the past, so it's a start off-on-a-windowsill job, and it'll be gone the first night the temperature dips below freezing.
Despite all this tenderness, though, it's still looking gaudy and delightful in gardens at present. Varieties that people I know approve: Sarah Raven's Dazzler, and T&M's verging on the Ku Klux "Purity". But actually most mere mortals buy it in £2.99 trays from Homebase as far as I can make out, with roughly similar results.
There was talk (a few years ago now though mind) about Cosmos being unreliable : my anecdotal wandering around Ealing evidence says otherwise. But there are two important things to know: shorter plants flower more quickly (so try dwarf varieties); and also that you can strike cuttings and overwinter them if you've got a greenhouse. It's a girl's world you know.