Off with their heads

I’m starting to get the hang of this flower garden thing.  Especially with my fabulous organisational sector system.  Instead of being rather low on the priority list – because they are only flowers, they now get seen to every Friday.  Having said that, the poor plants in the old Friday sector do suffer a little from end-of-week-itis as opposed to those in the Monday sector which get the bright-and-early treatment.  But now I am actually spending time with them, instead of passing them by with an “I’ll get to you soon” mentality that is tinged with guilt.

Bee on echinacea
I love how the flowers bring bees into the garden

I like having the flowers there and have even begun to pick them and bring them indoors.  Although my flower arranging leaves a lot to be desired.  My most successful arrangements to date are when a single stem zinnia graces a small narrow necked vase.  I have loads of these about the place and they last for ages.

Bee on zinnia
Even bedraggled flowers have an allure to the bees

I have even got tough with myself and strictly pull out self-seeded flowers that emerge beside the weeds from the seeds deposited from a couple of seasons worth of neglect.  The flower garden is now much more orderly – well it is supposed to be a cutting garden, and gone are the days when I allowed self-seeded pumpkins and tomatoes to run rampant through it all!

alissium with bay
I didn’t even plant these, I have no idea where they came from. That’s probably why they’re doing so well

I have discovered some that I have planted are perennials and come back year after year, unfortunately, I have changed the layout and I’m not entirely sure I want them where they are. Others I thought were perennials were in fact biennials and disappeared without a trace in year three.   I can’t believe I’ve being trying to master flowers for three years now.  But to be fair as I was mostly disorganised in the garden it was more of a plant out and fend for yourself kind of operation.  I mean they were just flowers after all.

Harvesting beans for tea is a form of deadheading. Who would have thought it?!

I am discovering they actually have a lot in common with veggies.  For example, if I stagger my plantings of sunflowers then I can enjoy them throughout the summer as they seem to grind to a halt midsummer if you start them too early and then a summer storm blows through leaving them quite bedraggled. This isn’t too dissimilar to succession planting of my lettuce or carrots as I quite like to have them available all season long so replant regularly.

I think I may have fallen a little for dahlias
I think I may have fallen a little for dahlias

The other thing is I’m always telling people with veggies – especially peas and beans, the more you pick the more you get.  Well it turns out, being as flowers are plants too, the same applies!  While I may not be able to pick every single flower like I would with the peas, and bring them inside to hideously arrange, and besides it is nice to leave a few to look nice in the garden, the same rules apply.

Dahlia buds
Take care deadheading dahlias – the pointy buds are the spent flowers and the round button ones are the new flowers to be. Don’t chop the wrong ones off.

With peas and beans if you miss a few and they are allowed to go from sweet young tender pods into hard, inedible seeds, then the plant thinks it has done its job, created progeny and its future is secure, so it stops and pretty much dies.  Flowers are exactly the same.  When you pick all its potential offspring off the plant, it shrugs it off and starts again attempting to create new seed for the future.

So you should pick all you can, and for those left behind then when they get a bit sad and tired, cut them off, before they get to the setting seed stage.  In some situations, if a flower is allowed to set seeds they can quickly become a weed.  They also go from being a thing of beauty to an eyesore.

Dead head flowers
Even the trimmings headed for the compost look pretty

And there is a strange pleasure to be found by lingering in the garden with a good pair of scissors doing a bit of deadheading and snipping off the heads of old and tired flowers.  If you do it often there often isn’t much to do, and as you work your way across the plant you will find more emerging flower buds waiting for their chance to bloom in the sunshine and you end up with a display that seems to last forever, or until the frost comes along and wipes them out for good.

Come again soon – I wonder what flowers I can sow now for some winter colour

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

3 thoughts on “Off with their heads

  1. Sarah your flowers are gorgeous! Gorgeous!!! I can almost smell your sweet Alyssum. It reseeds in my garden every summer and even tolerates it when Mouse the cat takes a nap in the middle of it. There is something immensely pleasurable about dead-heading. I love your new side-bar photo. You’re looking happy and lovely in your garden.

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