Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off with their Heads

I generally don't support decapitation.

A few years ago, I read a phenomenal biography of Marie Antoinette.  It is called Marie Antoinette and is written by Antonia Fraser.  It is totally worth your time and provides a first hand look into the lives of the  bougie few who got to spend their tony days dancing through worlds of gardens, marble palaces, gold, gowns and gilt while every one else (those who financed this extravagance with their taxes) simply fought for enough calories to make it through the day.  If you ever see me in person, ask me to tell you about my visit to Versailles.  It's a sad/awkward story that took place in Marie Antoinette's bedroom (and other rooms in the palace) but is totally NSFW or this blog!

Anyway.  I bring up Marie Antoinette because I don't feel she should have been decapitated.  She wasn't as terrible as history paints her and most scholars don't really believe she ever said, "Let them eat cake."   She was a young woman used as a pawn to advance the interests of others and was denied any degree of autonomy.  She was dedicated to her family, devoted to her husband and raised serious dough for the charitable causes of her day.  The "Reign of Terror" that took Marie's head, her husband's head and the heads of thousands others was just as tyrannical and unjust as the power is unseated.

I thought of Marie Antoinette today because I needed to do a lot of decapitating.

I would have turned from a tiny bud into a 12-inch wide flower.
Instead, my head was cut off.
Every dahlia grower knows that he must *pinch off* the growing tip of his dahlia plant.  By clipping the tip, you cut off the head where blooms will blossom.  You must do this with dahlias!


Cutting the first head off your dahlia will prompt the plant to panic and go into overdrive, producing other branches from which more blooms will flow.  By losing it's head, it fears it won't be able to pollinate, set seed and produce the next generation of itself.  Every plant's aim is obviously the continuation of its species.

Pinching the head ultimately leads to a stronger, healthier Dahlia plant that yields tons more flowers.

That said, it is never fun.  Especially when what you clipped includes a baby Dahlia bud.

Hopefully, September will bring vast numbers of blooms from dahlias that lost their initial head.

At that point, we will host a Harvest Dinner and toast to Marie and the first flush of dahlia blooms cut down in their tracks!