Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dead heads

click photo to enlarge
If you are of a certain age and interested in popular music then the words "dead head" mean something entirely different to what is understood by someone who is a gardener. If, however, you're of a certain age, interested in popular music AND gardening then you use both terms very easily, depending on context.

The musical "dead head", or rather "Dead Head", is a devoted follower of the San Francisco-based band, the Grateful Dead. I can't claim the level of adoration that qualifies a person to be a "Dead Head", but I do own some of their music and have a particular liking for the albums, "American Beauty", "Workingman's Dead" and "Live Dead". The gardener understands a dead head to be the product of "dead-heading", that is is to say, the removal of faded flower heads so that they don't turn to seed. Regular removal of declining blooms encourages the host plant to put out more flowers than it would otherwise poduce, and thereby extends its period of flowering, something that gardeners like to encourage.

Recently, I was doing the rounds of the flower beds and pots removing such blooms and picking up heads that had been blown off by the wind or knocked down by recent heavy rain. I put the heads of the begonias, cornflowers, marigolds and the rest into my bucket, and in so doing glanced down at my work of the past hour or so. The decaying beauty of the spent flowers caught my eye so I put the macro lens on my camera and took this photograph. There's something rather melancholic about the sight of flowers that are past their best. Perhaps it's the way we see in our minds eye the ripe beauty that was, as well as the dishevelled reality that is, and in so doing are reminded of the mortality of all life, including our own.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 160
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33
Image Stabilisation: On