Deadheading flowers will encourage more blooms on flowering plants. The normal goal of a plant is to flower, set seeds and die. Since we want them to continue to set flowers. . . we want to discourage flowers from setting seed. Deadheading the flower as it expires will redirect the plants energy from setting seed to creating more blooms. Additionally, keeping your plants free of dying material will discourage disease and allow more parts of your plant to receive sunlight.
From Cedar Circle Farm organic farmstand and education center
Someday I will live where I can garden naked. For now I make do with stepping out onto the balcony at daybreak, damp from a shower and dressed in enough to mask my skin’s craving.
July’s rain is nothing to its glare. A geranium in its pink pot drinks up half the jug without draining a drop. Everyone is thirsty.
A spider bobs on filament above a mess of thyme. Every time my clumsy elbows tear loose her spun walls, she rebuilds. I take care to duck under her strands but she knows better than to trust me. She skitters to the safety of the railing, her back an arrow of malachite flashing through a mica shield.
The thyme has tangled itself into the rosemary. Both started from seed two years ago. Now they are a wild fury. Winter buried their leggy stems, spring drowned them in pools of choked mud, and now summer burns them raw. As determined as their spider neighbor, they go on. New strands unfurl sometime in the night. When sun steams open the sky, tiny leaves press towards light. They grow even when the only sustenance is a stolen sip from morning’s turgid heat. Even left forgotten in the corner, they climb out of their barren beds and peel open their seams to free a thin, bristling marrow.
The marigolds and petunias perched up in boxes have curled in and darkened. I deadhead the withered, closing my fingertips gently around each base and letting the dry tissue fall free. It is more of a coax than a tug. Picking blackberries requires the same light touch. The ripe ones slip loose. Any that resist are left to darken their bite to sugar.
Ample rain and sun have kept these blossoms in a state of perpetual return. They begin even as they end. The petunias are tricky this way. Bud or compost? At a glance, it’s hard to know which are closed for good and which are waiting to open. The only way to tell is with a tiny stroke, just enough for the purple fullness to lay its pulse against the skin. The gesture is almost imperceptible. Does it fold itself over and surrender to its end? Or does it flex and hold inside its cocoon of flesh? Touch has no influence on the dormant thing, only on me. Its signal sounds through cell, through our common organelles, that it is bud and not corpse. I let go and step back. Somewhere deep in its furred sepal it clings to the threads of its root, churning sustenance into the shape of itself, murmuring, here, I am here, don’t rush me, I’ll know when it’s time to wake up.
Image: “Earth Goddess” from a 2013 exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal