My friend Patty commented on my unusual manicure the other day. She noticed that my fingernails were quite short with the exception of my thumb nails. Both were quite long.
Many gardeners have exceptionally long thumb nails for deadheading. An extended nail on our opposable digit aptly cuts through the plant stems of spent blooms. Most importantly, a thumb nail is not removable (hopefully anyway) and therefore impossible to misplace. I constantly leave my clippers in a location where I can’t find them when I need them. My thumb sticks with me.
Deadheading can be addictive. Once the ritual of snapping off browned blooms with your thumb begins, control of this habit can be hard to manage. Many backyard gardeners snip off spent flowers in other people’s gardens and annoy their friends. With a exaggerated thumb nail, deadheading devotees can avoid the even more embarrassing fashion statement of showing clippers sticking out of a back pocket like a 1980’s era comb.
I thought I had an original idea with this body-part-made-tool situation. But several years ago I saw a garden TV personality explain that most gardeners grow an extra long thumb nail as built in clippers.
Eventually my thumbnails break of course, often bending unforgivingly, creating a fatal white fault line that traverses the painful pink part. Then I have to cut the nail and the whole tool is lost. I usually just have one long nail since I alternate breaking them. If I could just remember to trim them back a bit before they get too long…