The urge to deadhead

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!


Laura said...

Thanks, Nelumbo! Glad you enjoyed the poem.

e said...

LOL - I do the same thing to the annoyance of my friends and family. WAIT! STOP! I have to do something .... and the eyes go rolling.

Enjoying your blog - thanks!


Susan Harris said...

I discovered this terrific blog recently, then when I returned it was a "file not found" or some-such. Anyway, I'm glad to see you're still here.
And I can relate to BMWs, too. I had a pristine 15-year-old 2002 that was stolen, then recovered - totalled!! I'd rather it had been stolen for its value, not for a joyride. Susan

Linn said...

Hmm, I don't deadhead other peoples flowers... but I do water their houseplants. I see it as a rescue mission. After all, we have the duty to stop an ongoing murder if we can, have we not?

Jessica Harwood said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one!

TG- I think blogger has been having some issues lately. Sorry. And that story would break my husband's heart!

Jill said...

I do the same thing. Pick the dead ones off.

Are you going to have a "How to have a Butterfly garden" section for this spring?? If so, please let me know so I won't miss it.


Katina Mooneyham said...

I am glad to see all the others who feel the urge to deadhead. when I first started gardening a few years, my mom had a few years on me. I laughed when we went places and she always mentioned that she fel the urge to deadhead. Now I do the same thing. Here's to great deadheading!

Alice said...

Yes, my fingers itch to do the same. Although there's always the risk that the owner may be deliberately letting seeds develop for collection or self-seeding. A few years ago I often walked around one of the public rose gardens here. I badly wanted to take the secateurs with me for a little additional exercise each morning. There is a lovely park at the foot of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. When we were there many years ago, I could hardly appreciate the beautiful roses because all I wanted to do was remove the dead ones.

Jessica Harwood said...

Katina and Alice- Now I'ved discovered two more great blogs. Thanks for visiting!

Jill-- yes, look for posts about butterfly gardening in the spring. I have butterfly bushes, but I want to plant more host plants (dill, fennel, passion vine) for the caterpillers.