I hadn’t planned to blog about the cosmos flowers in Delta Park this year. I’ve already done so multiple times: Once during my #Gauteng52 series and once (very memorably) right before South Africa’s covid-19 lockdown began two years ago. But I went to see the cosmos twice this week and they are so freaking spectacular this year…Or maybe they’re equally spectacular every year and I just forget. Either way, this annual autumn explosion is too good not to blog about again.
My 2017 post contains most everything you need to know about the cosmos in Delta Park, so I won’t repeat it all. But in brief: Cosmos are an alien species, whose seeds made their way to South Africa in contaminated horse feed at the turn of the 20th century during the Anglo Boer War. Cosmos bloom all over the northern half of South Africa for a few weeks each year, mostly in mid/late March. Cosmos are prolific along the potholed roads of the eastern Free State (Thorsten and I saw some massive cosmos fields in the Free State during our Blogitect Road Trip last year) but they also thrive in and around Joburg.
I’m curious to know why there are so many cosmos in Delta Park specifically, but I haven’t been able to find any information about that. I wonder if there was a military camp there during the war? Please chime in if you know.
Reasons to Love Cosmos Flowers
I want to describe what makes cosmos flowers delightful. But it’s hard to put into words. They’re just humble, pink-and-white wildflowers. And yet they’re extraordinary.
First, there are the blossoms. Cosmos blooms are simple yet delicate — thin enough that the sun can shine through them, just so.
The cosmos’ lime-green stems look very much like weeds (which I guess they technically are), but they also have a graceful wispiness about them.
And then, of course, there’s the way cosmos like to grow: in thick, tall banks that beckon you to plunge in and immerse yourself in a sea of pink/white/green.
Lastly, cosmos are irresistibly photogenic and they make everyone (and everything) around them look fabulous.
This year I decided I love cosmos season almost as much as jacaranda season. I realize this is a controversial statement for a Joburger, but it’s how I feel in this moment. Please discuss.
Side note: If you visit the cosmos in Delta Park, be sure to stop and have a look at the Delta Environmental Centre. It’s a beautiful Art Deco building, constructed in the early 1930s when Delta Park was the Delta Sewage Disposal Works. There’s a parking area right beside it.
I’d say you have until the end of March to catch the Delta Park cosmos in peak form this year. Don’t miss them.
Delta Park is a large Joburg park (bordering Blairgowrie, Craighall Park, and Victory Park) with several entrances. To park in front of the Delta Environmental Centre, which is also close to the park’s biggest cosmos field, use this GPS location.
It’s such a wonderful and exiting view all these flowers in the park and also at other spaces and places around Jozi. Yesterday on my way to the East Rand I stopped at the informal settlement next to the N17 to watch this whole field of flowers. When trying to make pictures my cell phone was down. Tried to take some flowers home but of course that also didn’t work out. Nature is amazing.
Yeah, I’ve heard that cosmos die right away if you pick them!
Looks like we had the same idea for weekend outings. The flowers are beautiful! Your photos are better than mine, though. 😉
Thanks! I’m sure your photos are great, too.
Sorry to hear they are an invasive species but they sure are purty! (your first photo in the a.m. is perfection)
Thanks! Actually maybe invasive isn’t the right word…Obviously it’s an alien species, but I haven’t heard anything about cosmos being actively bad for South Africa’s environment. I should find out.
“The green of the stems looks almost like watercolor.” What a picture! As you say, like a watercolor. I looked at your 2017 post and note how your picture taking skills have evolved over the last 5 years. You must put a lot of work and thought into it. I don’t know if congratulations are called for as that is not quite the right word. But it is always good, and inspiring, to see another person’s efforts paying off. Cheers!
Thank you so much, Frankie — I really appreciate you noticing that! I also looked at my photos from 2017 and thought my recent ones are much better 🙂 I guess I’ve photographed a lot of cosmos since then.
They look great this year, I must go soon. On your description of a weed made me think that sometime ago I wondered who gets to call a plant a weed or what makes a plant a weed, basically there is no such thing as a weed – it’s a plant that is growing in the wrong place or undesirable to people. Since then I have looked at what has been called a weed quite differently. Delta Park was before the sewerage works a grazing farmland so could be from the contaminated feed that was brought in.
Ahhhhhhh, that does sound like a likely explanation. Thanks! And totally agreed on the weed thing.
Those are pretty spectacular. And very spring-y! Of course they love South Africa, with its climate so similar to Mexico and SoCal. I need some of those for my butterfly garden, but no luck yet…
I’m sure butterflies love cosmos, too (because everyone does).
I’m always trying to find plants the native butterflies (i.e., Western Monarchs) love. I have a lot of marigolds.
We pay $2.99 and up for a single Cosmos plant at the nurseries in Northern California. Lucky you.
Oh wow! I will remind myself regularly of my luck 🙂
We live about 300m from Delta and it is such a pleasure driving up and down Bantam Drive and just seeing the tops of the flowers as you drive along. Took the dogs for a run the other evening and it was truly spectacular!
Beautiful. and therapeutic. <3 What's not to love?
These are such gorgeous pics, thank you Heather! We want to go this weekend, hoping its not too late. Which entrance do you suggest we use? The park is big and I don’t know it all that well… every year I see these photos and I want to go check it out and this year I am determined not to miss them!!
Hi Janine, I was at the park yesterday and the cosmos still looked great, so I’m sure they’ll still be beautiful this weekend. The best place to park is at the Delta Environmental Centre — I provided a google maps link at the end of this blog post 🙂
Thank you Heather, I did miss that! And I’m so glad we haven;t missed the window!
Another parking recommendation, especially if you don’t have time or inclination to walk about, is to park on Leighton Road on the Victory Park side (instead of driving into the park on the road to the environmental centre, you skirt the park (with it on your right). It isn’t formal parking but it is a pretty quiet residential road. From there, you will see the fields of flowers though the fence and you just need to duck into the gate in the fence and you are already almost surrounded by tall cosmos flowers!
Ah! That’s a great tip. Thanks for sharing.