A Deadhead Is Not A Cool Thing
My writing life would not be complete without a mention of my husband’s horrid new obsession with gardening. Last year we completely relandscaped our lawn, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but which horribly backfired. Our old lawn had seedy looking bushes around it and the flower beds were growing up with centipede grass. We had the whole thing redone, including new sod with a new kind of grass that would do better in the blazing heat, to the tune of about thirteen thousand dollars. Ugh. The problem is, the old lawn, although not worthy of a Better Homes and Gardens mention, was functional and not completely unattractive. The NEW lawn is pretty gorgeous, and we have gotten a lot of compliments, but my husband is now OBSESSED with keeping it beautiful. I really wish we had just stuck with the old one. I was perfectly happy ignoring it. Now we have to keep things DONE. We have to go out on the damn porch with a hose and water the front bushes because “the leaves get limp if they are not watered daily.” Well, I don’t know what freaking kind of bushes those are, but I’d like a word with a landscaper that plants bushes that have to be watered by hand every day. I think my husband might be full of it. Also, weeds must be routinely pulled. Man, those things pop up and get big fast. Must be all the watering. But worst of all are the damn flowers. I have one word for you. DEADHEADING. This is a word that I never before encountered out of context with Jerry Garcia. The theory is: cutting the spent blooms and seed pods reduce the plant’s energy expense and redirect it into the making of new blooms and leaves. This may or not be so. I do know this: my husband has expanded this thinking even farther. The roses have developed some kind of Dreaded Rose Fungus that must be routinely sprayed. Now, we don’t just cut the spent blooms, we cut ALL the blooms, the theory being that the energy can be directed by the plant into healing those yellow lacey leaves into healthy new green leaves. NOT WORKING! Also, the buds must be spared, so I find myself handpicking blooms out from between new buds by hand. All this under temperatures in Alabama in the summer time, which a couple of weeks ago were above 100 degrees. He had me outside in this heat IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY FOR A WHOLE WEEKEND deadheading roses. We also deadhead lilies. The seed pods and dead flower stalks must be cut off, like, weekly. The stems must be cut ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM and not in the middle or near the top. I am not sure who made up this rule but I am pretty sure it was my husband. All of the cut stalks, lilies, and roses must also be picked up and put in a bag. Apparently some bozo told my husband that leaving the cut leaves and blooms under the bushes makes the fungus problem worse. So if we didn’t impale ourselves on the damn thorns the first time around while we were cutting them, we impale ourselves on the thorns while picking the wretched things up. Also there are Japanese beetles on our roses, which are apparently lethal to plants, so we have to spray beetle-killer all over our bushes, which we then have to root around in whilst we do our deadheading. I realize that this attitude makes me the Worst Wife Ever, as I grow quite surly when sent outside for yet another round of gardening in a convection oven. But somehow I am convinced that all this was made up to torture me, and the damn things wouldn’t look any different if we JUST LEFT THEM ALONE!