Over the holidays our family had nice meal at an Italian restaurant in Atlanta. As we walked out, I tuned out my husband’s comments on the various models of cars in the parking lot and focused on the pansies. They were doing nicely, but I immediately noticed several dead flowers on the plants and (*gasp*) even a well-developed seedpod.
I couldn’t overcome the urge to deadhead. I pulled off a few crispy flowers and a seedpod. Then I couldn’t control the botanical urge to slice the pod with my thumb open with my finger, exposing the tiny developing seeds. How could I resist?
This behavior isn’t limited to commercial property, either. If I see a dead flower in anyone’s yard, I can’t stop myself from picking it off. It’s a compulsion. Is this my duty as a good horticultural citizen, or am I just sticking my nose in other people’s soil where it doesn’t belong? I don’t know, but I can’t stop.
This habit actually started in my childhood, when my brother and I shared a newspaper route. One family on my route never pruned their yew bushes, so I took it upon myself to strip off a rouge branch with my bare hands every time I passed. In other yards, I plucked dandelions and faded marigold flowers. My dead-heading addiction started early.
I also have the urge to water other people’s neglected houseplants, but that can be the subject of another post.
I also discovered a poem about deadheading at Directionally Correct. I love the symbolism!