Did anyone really think it was going to be easy ?

mich_in_zonal_denialMay 29, 2005

Time for true confessions.

Prior to working in this industry did you romanticize about your career in the green industry ? ie: I love plants and can see myself lolling away with the orchids while stashing big heaps of cash in the bank .

Or perhaps ;

Did you have realistic expectations , because you grew up in a green industry family/ household ?

Did you have any counciling or a mentor that took you by the shoulder and shook some sense/ reality into you ?

Did you just fall into your career from a part time job and then steadily climbed the ladder to your present position ?

If you changed careers mid life, has it been a cake walk for you ?

I hope this thread can shed some light to those who may be thinking of joining the working ranks of the green industry.

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chad_la(z7 TX)

Was the family business I was raised around and thusly had no false expectations. I'd left it a couple times and somehow always seem to end up doing something landscape related yet again.

I am sometimes approached by people wanting to get into our business and try to give a neutral perspective on things. Is almost cliche' how every spring one notices the new rigs driving around town. Brand new dualies pulling brand new goosenecks with brand new tractors and/or new top end ztr mowers with half a dozen echo trimmers three blowers two push baggers and a partridge in a pear tree. Come july the note on the truck is late, the trailer is for sale, and i have a couple of the trimmers on the maintenance crews truck. I pick up more new maintenance accounts in july/august than any other growing season time.

Take care of your crews, take care of your equipment, take care of your business, and only then can you properly take care of your customers which in turn takes care of your professional reputation.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 5:37PM
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Did you have realistic expectations , because you grew up in a green industry family/ household ?

I didn't think of it romantically, and found it a lot like farming. Same type of obligations and time committments to make it fly.

Did you have any counciling or a mentor that took you by the shoulder and shook some sense/ reality into you ?

No. Not at all. IN fact they felt threatened as I grew and studied and I think they actually cramped my style unless they were in a position to use what I knew. Therefore, I have tried to be a mentor over the years. Nobody is really prepared for this business or knows everything.

Did you just fall into your career from a part time job and then steadily climbed the ladder to your present position ?

Nope. I walked away from a much more lucrative professional job and never looked back and jumped into this work with both feet. This was one of my career choices many years ago, but a divorce and lifestyle situation prevented me from doing it the first time, and I wasn't going to let the second chance pass me by.

If you changed careers mid life, has it been a cake walk for you ? It's one of the hardest jobs I have ever had, and I love it more than any of the others.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 7:02PM
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CynRi(zone5 On)

No, I don't think I had a realistic expectation. I hated that long commute to the city to a more lucrative career.
I had this dream of me heading out in the morning, tea in hand, to that greenhouse on my property.My husband lets say
was not real keen on me leaving a job that paid well to
sink our saving into a business that was not going to pay us back according to most people at least for 3 years. But back me he did and has been supportive and my free labour.
He still can't resist telling me I could be retiring in 5 years if I had stayed at my other career.Being a one woman show with my part time labourer (hubby), I have worked harder than I had ever dreamed, but according to my customers I have the healthiest,and best quality plant in the area. This is my third year, and sitting here tonight and doing my accounting I have realized that I have doubled my income of the same period last year. Will this be the year I get to pay myself a salary, I sure hope so. Do I regret my decision not on your life. I love what I do, I am at my best physical shape of my life (hubby too),I am doing what I know now is the job of my dreams.
Now lets see, a new coldframe, a new delivery truck...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 12:47AM
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debinca1(zone 7 CA)

I was recruited by the owners of a new independant nursery. This Is me 3 years ago..... " Yes I'd live to work in your retail nusery, just let me know when you plan to open and I will give notice at my current job". I thought I'd be wonderful, strolling down the isles imparting my plant wisdom upon the customers.

Reality..... empty the trash, clean the bathroom, water the plant hospitol, awnswer the same question on the phone 40 times a day while ringing the register. Unload the delivery truck, water the plants and put them away.... owner says the shrubs need water 'they are wilting'. OH UH here comes a customer with a clipboard and a sunset.... ( they will need at least a hour and walk away thinking about my suggestions. Oh yes and did I mention the wage cut this spring? Seems they cant afford me. HMMMMMM

BTW I LOVE this job! I bring my 14 yr old daughter to work with me 2 days a week.......and I am filling in with side garding jobs to help make up for the wage cut, and returning to school for some desing classes. would I trade it? NEVER!

SO what do I say to the cuctomers that wistfully say " you are so lucky to work here"? I reply " yes I am, I love coming to work every day"

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 1:47AM
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Did they decide on that wage cut while sitting on the beach during their annual vacation in the Bahamas?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 1:54AM
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miss_rumphius_rules(z6 NJ)

Prior to working in this industry did you romanticize about your career in the green industry? No, I knew it would be work...and to be successful at what you work at, you have to be driven and work hardÂno matter how much you love what you do. I chose this because I was driven to do it. The many paths IÂve taken have lead me to where I am now, but, and itÂs a big but, I went in with eyes wide open. I knew exactly what I would have to give up and was unsure of what I would gain. It has been exhilarating, frustrating, and scary.

Did you have any counciling or a mentor that took you by the shoulder and shook some sense/ reality into you ? I have tried to seek out expert advice, every step of they way. Early on, I worked with another landscape designer who ultimately felt threatened and severed the relationship. I now see that some of her style of working doesnÂt work for me, but she was a huge sobering influence early on, particularly with the cost of things. I also took classes in design and horticulture after I completed a certificate design course. I continue to take classes in the winter to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge. ThereÂs a huge amount of knowledge needed to walk on a site and be able to interpret it and then design what will enhance the site and the ownerÂs use of it.

If you changed careers mid life, has it been a cake walk for you? I changed mid-life Âlater than that actually. It hasnÂt been a cakewalk. I had a very successful and lucrative career prior to this. I was extremely realistic; I saved money for two years in order to buffer the financial reality for a limited time frame. I now make less than half of my previous salary, but I wake up each morning wanting to work, excited by the projects and open to whatever I need to do to get the job done with at the level of excellence that I want to achieve.

If you are in a 4 season climate, you must, like the ants in the story, prepare for the winter months when thereÂs no money coming in and bigger energy bills. You must be able to hit the ground running on the first warm day, and understand, particularly in the design area that many, many people donÂt value designÂthey just want a tree over there. The other reality, where I work, is that every landscaperÂs truck says Âdesign & constructionÂ. And thatÂs why there are so many plants in the wrong places, and so many walkways heaved from winter frost, and so many clients who call me to fix whatÂs screwed up.
If you donÂt have the technical knowledge, get it. Being able to solve problems visually and technically is how we make money. Of all of the design disciplines, this one is the lowest paying.

I hope this is realistic enough...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 6:54AM
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This is my third spring as a gardener. Already I am a month behind in my task list. Without advertising, I have work to see me until October. Adding up likely income, I might make $10,000 this year, at least that is my goal. I am supplementing both income and education with a part time nursery job.
What I really thought when making this career change, was that at least I could get away from those who feel talking on the phone, sending emails, sitting in meetings and bullying lower paid employees all day is worth their $100,000 a year salary. But no, now these are customers, who watch me transform their construction damaged, stone, sand and weed filled yard into a lovely retreat in a week, and feel they should pay me the rate they pay the neighborhood teenager for mowing.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 10:56AM
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'But no, now these are customers, who watch me transform their construction damaged, stone, sand and weed filled yard into a lovely retreat in a week, and feel they should pay me the rate they pay the neighborhood teenager for mowing.'

Then why do you do it? Those customers don't have a problem with what they pay but it seems you have a problem with what you're willing to work for.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 12:54PM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

got my first job on a farm when I was 11 or 12. I worked 8hours at the farm, than I biked down the road and rebuilt gas engines.

I alway worked at farms until I got out of high school. I worked for a rare plants nursery. Between that and the fact I grew up 6miles from Cyrus Hydes "well sweep herb farm" well.... I got the plant bug.
The rare plant nursery is where I decided to avoid college education.... at 17 I was getting paid twice the amount a hort grad was getting paid.
Few years at various different nurseries and a few years as an estate gardener.
I've always been realistic about this business, but I like being poor.

so in the end, here I am, running a farm/wholesale nursery, doing a lil contracting, and still rebuilding engines. (things have really changed eh?)

all in all, I havn't had to spend a day indoors since I was 17.

it's not a business, it's a lifestyle that is run like a business... those that want strictly a business should open a clothing store.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 1:44PM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

actually.... looking back, education for someone wanting to start a nursery would indeed be helpful. As opposed to a horticulture degree, going to a tech school and getting an industrial maintainance degree would make more sense.

I learned how to rewire fans in 115degree heat, and how to repair broken propane heaters at 3am when it's 33degrees in the greenhouse, etc etc. Would have been nice to have the know-how before hand.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 1:50PM
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Because I can transform their construction damaged, stone, sand and weed filled yard into a lovely retreat in a week, and it beats spending my days typing up their inane memos.
As Drew said, it is a lifestyle. I love it.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 7:05PM
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"it's not a business, it's a lifestyle that is run like a business"

Wow, that is so true. I often tell people it is hard for me to determine where my life ends and my business begins. It isn't that I "work" all the time, but how we live and how I make my living are so intertwined. Plants and gardening fill our leisure hours as well. So does the design of our home, my livestock and veggie gardens, my leisure pastimes like bird watching and painting nature scenes. It's ........well........a lifestyle .

I also chuckled at Deep Roots comments about technical training. I did work in engineering for years and yes, yes, yes! has it ever come in handy. A lot of the building and maitenance and even cultural decisions are based on physics and chemistry. It certainly doesn't hurt.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 8:10PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Drew, excellent point about business as lifestyle. However, ask anyone in a family-run clothing store/business, and they will describe to you a way of life. They know fabrics, vendors, fashion, seasonal market psychology. It's the same as a plant growing business.

Maybe running a McDonald's or similar franchise business is what you meant. But any mom-and-pop is a way of life, not a job.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 9:58PM
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Lets see...
I'm not sure if I can answer each and every question, so I'll just tell my story.
I've always enjoyed gardening. Flowers especially. Hubby has never minded me getting out the tiller for another bed. Just less grass to mow LOL. Almost 3 years ago, he was hurt on the job. After awhile, we came to realize he would never go back to it. After being home with me, and going with me on some hosta finds, he thought... "If others can grow these and sell them, and make a living, why cant you?" That got the ball rolling. I consulted an on-line friend in the business for some help and went at it. I decided, that after 18 years of him supporting me, it was my turn to help out. And seeing how I never had much in the line of jobs before we were married, this is what I knew, and I was good at it. We are now in our second year. I know it will take time and lots of hard work, but I am willing and able. Yes, I am stressed. Yes, I am very tired. Yes, I know there will be bad times. But I am loving every minute of it!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 10:07PM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

sorry about the clothing store shot... I'm fairly ignorant to 'off the farm' issues. I think yall got the idea tho.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:58PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Yup, your point was spot on. It's just that you picked a bad analogy. ;-)
Really, any family-run business, whether farming, mercantile, service or trade, is a way of life. The key is when your life becomes interwoven with your trade in a way that can't be separated. You can't just leave work at the shop or greenhouse at 5:00p.m. and call it a 40 hour week.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 3:02PM
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I grew up with parents that had lived through the Depression, and although they had enough money from their jobs they wanted more, just in case. So the way to make more was to grow and sell raspberries, strawberries, veggies, pine trees, etc. I was expected to work, and it was hard work. I knew going into my retail nursery that it would be hard. I had no mentor other than the above. I have actually followed in their footsteps, and made mine a part time business, so I don't have the stresses that a lot of you do, but it's not easy. I have an aquaintance who tried to start a retail nursery. She just thought she could because she had beautiful borders. I remember her commenting that this and that didn't grow in her border, so she had it replaced, after all there was a one year guarantee. She got a reality check when she got flats and flats of plants that she had no idea how to overwinter, and they came with a true to name guarantee only. She now, once again tends her own beautiful borders. I think this is a good thread, that perhaps will help people wanting to get into the business not to be discouraged about their plans, but to proceed cautiously, and hopefully with some experience under their belts. I still think a way to go to start in this business is to start very small and sell at the farmers market, to see if you really like it, or hire on at a local nursery. Polly

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 8:02PM
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My impression of farmer's markets out here - from both sides of the table - is that sales are often very poor. In fact, the one in my town is now called a 'Saturday Market', is heavy on knickknacks and weak on produce and plants. I wouldn't use experience with one of these as a way to judge the potential for nursery crops in your area.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 11:36PM
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Ron, thank you. My experience with farmers markers here, and other locations I have visited has been very strong and competitive sales. May I change my recommendation to that of people starting out, or wishing to start out in the business to try out a farmers market if there is one close by that would appear to be suitable, as far as volume of sales and quantity of customers. Certainly if the farmers market isn't doing anything, I would not recommend trying that. It's too bad farmers markets all over aren't thriving. I'm glad you told me that. Polly

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 5:12PM
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debinca1(zone 7 CA)

NO Ron the owners were at their house on Tahoe, silly.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 2:31AM
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pansysoup(CA 9/10)

Wow, Mich, you're good. Move over Dr. Phil.

I backed into this career mid-life, after several decades in the clothing business (ahem), selling fashion to the same people Mich designs gardens for. I had no illusions about landscape design being lucrative - I was up to here with the glamour, competitive, ostentatious lifestyle I'd been in. I gardened because I didn't want to do anything else.

Five years later, I'm marginally solvent, have a good reputation, am transitioning from doing whatever jobs come my way to farming out the post-hole digging and irrigation (I think that's called Contracting), and just doing design and teaching gardening classes.

But when I started to read this thread, I was in a funk. It hasn't hit 100 degrees here yet this spring (well, only twice), I have nice clients, the rent is paid....But burn-out is burn-out, and I think doing the same thing seven days a week (my stores were open every day, too) is bad for one's head.

The other thing that isn't cutting it is that I work alone, and I must be a people person, because the high point of my day is going to a nursery and snagging some poor soul who looks perplexed by a pittosporum. I give a lot of free advice (and get a lot of clients in the process). After that, it's just me and the amendments.

I need to take a class in Contracts and Bidding (as recommended here so often). What I'd really like is a partner (or an apprentice), cause no matter how much you enjoy penstemons and salvias, they aren't great company.

But the greatest part of being where I am is (as always) that I can change it. No one tells me when to show up or how to do my job, and if this career stops being fun, I'm the guy in charge who can tweak it till it's fun again.

Back to the potting bench!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 12:21AM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Pansy- if there's a local college program, look to give someone an internship with you. I started with a designer that way,one day a week and it's been great. I do some bookkeeping chores,run plans over to get copied, fold them, put the info books together and occasionally help with a site analysis (holding the tape). My internship is over, but she has kept me on. I think part of is is the social part. It's nice to get together with someone who has the same interest every once in a while. She has been a great mentor, and doesn't mind helpiing me with a design probelm every once in a while- maybe three times in 1 1/2 years. And sometimes I can help with her stuff. She figures she bills more than she pays me, so it's good to get some of this stuff done so she can go on consultations or spend time at the drawing table.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 9:26PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Mich, great topic!

I may have romanticized the industry a bit, but never to the extend of wads of cash in the bank!

I did not grow up in a green industry household, although I did have grandparents who were hardworking dairy farmers. They had already retired by the time I was old enough to really notice much though.

I did not have counseling or a mentor in the industry, except for some terrific advice from folks on this very message board. Interestingly, I had done a fair amount of career interest/aptitude tests, and nothing ever pointed me in this direction. I did read Tony Avent's book, So You Want to Start a Nursery, which should be required reading for everyone and made me realize that I didn't want to go that route!

Yes, I did just fall into my career from a part time job! After a number of years of being a stay-at-home mom with a passion for plants, I lucked into a garden center job during my kid's school hours. The pay and working conditions stunk, but I got some experience. The garden center got bought out by a chain, and I got more and different experience under that management. When my part-time hours were cut back, I volunteered at the Conservatory for a while until I found my present position with an interior landscaping company.

Changing careers at age 40 was not a cake walk. I realized that the more physical jobs in landscaping were already or soon would be beyond my stamina, especially if I had to first spend some years getting the appropriate schooling. However, I am in the fortunate situation of having a husband with a decent paying job that has great benefits. He's looking at early retirement, so I took this job with the idea that it will supplement his pension. It would be scary to support a family on what I earn. As my boss put it when he interviewed me, "The pay is decent, but you ain't never gonna get rich."

I love what I do, and most days I am happy to get up and go to work. I feel that I have found my niche in life and a way to earn money doing what I love.

I agree with PansySoup that it can get mighty lonely sometimes. I'm not much of a people person, so it rarely bothers me, but I do love the days when someone stops me to ask how to take care of one of their plants and is so grateful for my advice!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 11:23PM
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I was clueless about just about everything , life included, when I started out studying landscape architecture at the ripe old age of 16.

Somehow with a lot of help of the newly instigated Equal Opportunity Bill I got into a hoity toity university and stumbled my way through a variety of classes that challenged me to think about my desires for employment.

Challenged I was and yet determined.
I wasn't enthralled by the concept of spending my working days behind a drafting board all day long.
And disappointed that landscape architecture really wasn't about plants .
I also felt a certain loss that I wasn't engaged in art or sculpture while taking those erosion and parking lot design classes.

So back to school I went to study horticulture and art, all the while working part time to pay for this education.

I bounced back an forth for years between my 3 main subjects ; landscape architecture, horticulture and sculpture and over a period of 25 years or so have developed a niche that incorporates all three of my loves.

In some ways I was lucky that I did not have parents to pay for my education because I would not have had some of the job opportunities that I did that contributed to my career formation.
I learnt that my personality is not tailored to retail horticultural sales ( that's probably no surprise to many who know me ... could you imagine what I might say to the unknowing petunia packing housewife ? )

I never thought that it was going to be easy. I just never had the time to sit down and really think it through.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:55AM
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landman41(z5 Colo)


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 7:12PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

I'm almost in the same position as Watergal,(a few years behind)-I've been an at-home Mom for a while, & I'm working at local retail garden center (school hours, 8:30-3, & Saturdays-when the kids get out in the summer, I'll go on hiatus, except for the occasional weekend)-I'm really enjoying it, although pay is low, I'm on my feet 6.5 hours daily, & It's been quite hot, in the 90s, the past week.

In some ways, it's like the restaurant industry, I waitressed through my teens & 20s, similarities-crappy hours & pay, constant pressure, focus on customer service, but once it gets in your blood, you can't live without it.

It's a bit easier for me, than for some of these kids starting out, I've managed a bookstore & a library, & I know the value of customer service & providing information & a BIG factor, I couldn't afford this job, if my husband didn't make a decent salary & we didn't have insurance coverage.

Will I be doing this in the fall? who knows? if I find a job in my field with better pay & flexible hours, probably not-am I glad I'm working there now? yes, just like the people that come into bookstore & libraries, nursery shoppers are nicer & more interesting than your average retail customer. And I really like learning about the internal workings of a large commercial garden center & I like the people I work with...Thistle

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 6:41PM
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vouts(France Z8)

I think when my wife and I set off on our french nursery venture 2 1/2 years ago we didn't know what to expect, except for the going to be tough.

Lemesee, change of career (ex doctor and scientist), change of country, change of language, change of culture etc. LOTS of unknowns. Most people thought we were mad.

We probably were/are, but were happy with the way things are going - not for everybody mind you. If we're lucky we'll be able to put food on the table and fuel in the heating tank from our takings this year.

Despite the 'precarity' of our situation, we've never been happier. Working for ourselves, seeing our vision materialise itself into reality and meeting a lot of good genuine folks who appreciate what we do. A 30 second commute in the morning, and now with our newly installed automatic watering system, no more 5am starts during summer to get the nursery watered!!

One thing we underestimated, was the french indifference to gardening compared to the anglo-saxon countries. We are the only perennial plant nursery within a radius of about 50 miles. This means no competition other than the bog standard chain stores however it also means that folks are just not used to having the choice.

We have a mission to educate!!

Good topic.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 3:30PM
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I'm not sure. Have I even made it yet? Na....
I'll let you know.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 5:19PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I don't think I qualify as a professiona yet but I'll add my comments anyway:-) My situation is similar to Deb118's. My family spent 15 years on the road planting trees for state forestery services, paper companies, government reforestation projects, and private individuals. We made lots of money and spent lots of money. It's not cheap living on the road. Then my husband was injured on the job and we came back home to live. WC settlement enabled us to start building a house and move out of the 5th wheel camper trailer that we had lived in all those years. July 4 will mark 4 years since we started the house and its not done yet! Anyway back to the Nursery business...the bottom line was...we needed more money, I had lots of plants from the years we used to live here, I love gardening, DS and DD like gardening so we decided to buy a bunch of dayliies and start selling them. We made enough our first year to pay off our investment in daylilies, our backpack sprayer and Roundup and had a little over $2000 profit to divide between DS, DD and me. Now to answer the original questions. I knew it would be hard work but I'm used to hard work. (Planting several thousand tree seedlings a day is hard work). If the daylily farm was all we had to do, it would be easy but we are also growing about 6000 square feet of vegetables for our own use (which means we have to can, freeze or dry all the produce), still working on the house and trying to design and make display beds for daylilies and other perennials. Yes, I had a mentor. The couple we bought our dayliles from gave us lots of good advice and helped us tremendously with knowing what and how. A local shrub propagator and wholesaler also gives good and free advice and lets us order stuff in with him to save shipping costs. We hope to get into other perennials eventually and maybe fruit-bearing plants such as blueberries. But right now, we are surviving, not expanding. I would 1000 times rather be doing just what I'm doing than to have to drive 50 miles every day to a regular job and be stuck inside all day.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 8:00AM
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Did we (my husband and I) think this would be easy?
We worked in journalism for a number of years. When that died, J worked for a landscaper for a season (7 a.m. till 9 p.m. 6-7 days a week) while I worked in a library and began growing plants for sale. J enrolled in a business school, took the plants to a farmers market and supported us by working in a pig barn.
We moved and built a greenhouse before we properly unpacked our clothes or furniture. We took plants to farmer's markets in our first few years in business -often doing being 5 regular market days a week, plus special event.
Now that was hard work. As we have attracted people here, where we grow the plants, the workload has gotten easier. But every time it does, we ratchet it up a notch or three. We have to to stay alive.
Did we think it would be easy? Not on your life. But I'm not sure we knew it would be as hard as this.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Very similar experience to previous posters...

I left a decent paying job because I got tired of office politics, and found the work extremely dull and meaningless. I grew up spending 90% of my time outdoors in pristine land, helping my father with gardening. Anyway I left my job, started temporary work, so that I could take classes in horticulture. My instructor in HORT 100 said if you are in this field to make a good earning turn right around and go out the door. (LOL at least he was honest and by far was my favorite instructor) I would say he was a good mentor.

In my last year of classes, I had my daughter. Being extremely tired, I decided to just work part-time at a lovely local nursery. I am fortunate to have a husband who earns good money but he cannot understand the path I have chosen.

I often would fantasize about how much fun it would be working outside(as some of my customers frequently say)�complete strangers come up to me and tell me they can see on my face the passion I have for plants. I LOVE what I do..LOVE working with customers and discovered how well I can sell. The outdoors is my office and I wouldn't have it any other way. I also discovered I am a REAL plant nerd.

Downside: Being family run, the pay is criminal...Why oh why is pay so low for those of us experienced and educated. It is one thing I don't get. Yes I work my tail off doing manual labor, but I also have to juggle orders, customers demanding on-site designs, advising them about plant pests/diseases, etc. I train high school students who don't want to work, and run the place frequently when my boss is out. I paid out of my own pocket for training, certifications, classes etc.

Now several years later, I feel it is time for me to move on it is not easy. Good jobs are scarce. If I were to give advice to anyone considering this field, I would say make sure that this is something you have utmost passion for because it is not a cake walk..it will be what you make it, and it may take YEARS to finally make money.

Am I sorry I chose this path..NO it is in my blood:)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 1:36PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

They're exploiting you, same as the company that had the one party working 7 to 9. Ever ask for a raise? They may tell you to get lost, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And maybe you can actually get more money out of them and stick around for awhile longer.

If you're taking all that responsibility and getting paid next to nothing, and they are spending January in Maui - if they are - then that is a hint.

With many operations keeping the labor cost as low as possible is the big secret of success, the key to the size of the profits the owners take home.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Great topic!

I got a degree in Politics back in the early 80's, but chose to be a self employed gardener instead. Unfortunately, I didn't think ahead in terms of wear and tear on my body. I've had rotator cuff surgery on the right wing, which didn't take because I waited too long. Now the left is torn, and they say if I don't get surgery within six months, it can't be fixed. Being self employed as a gardener has its wonderful moments, but the body begins to wear down after years of abuse. Not to mention, all the paperwork that has to go to Uncle Sam. That's always a nightmare!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 11:57AM
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Ok someone please help me out here. I'm 35. I've been out of school for 10 yrs. I hate my career (mental heath therapist) which i thought i would really like. I love plants; I have a house full. Local nurseries & landscapers will not hire me; apparently I have no experience. Research shows me I need several yrs of experience or a horticultural degree. I want to work in a greenhouse or botanical garden or "interiorscape." those don't exist where i live - i would have to move. Is there a way I can work with plants the way i think i would like to? What i mean is can i do this financially as a single person or should I just forget it? I really feel stuck and this is the only thing i think i would like enough to go back to school for. I don't need more school loans & another degree if it will just give me another failed career. Be honest with me & tell me what I need to know please. I start school next month - it's not too late to change my mind. Thanks

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Depends on your personality and why what you have done so far has not worked the way you wanted.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:16PM
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I just need to know if a person can work full time growing/propagating/selling/taking care of plants (without being the main owner/supervisor/manager, etc) and make enough to live on their own and what are the positive/negative aspects of these jobs.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Short answer = (no)
longer answer = Why buy them off of you when there are pro,s
that know things that you dont and have put good time and hardwork into aquiring these skill,s.

Could you see your self competing with the dutch market?
you could possibly sell a few here and there in a hobby manner around the neighbour hood abidding by the law and tax.

Im 35 yrs old and just half way through my Nc hort & garden design.
Do a basic course like mine and find another neesh market to get into, im just starting to come up with great ideas and building up relationships with other people that require my skill,s.
I have been offerd work but have had to decline because of the cetifications needed for the jobs.
im now in a position of starting out small, to get the money to make money for these certificates.
I have always been practical and i have not had much education. The last job i was offerd was worth �75,000.
As soon as some one hears about what you do and what you can do the offers come flying by if you can proove yourself and have the qualifications.

Does this help your question?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 11:38AM
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Starting with a well established farmers market (over 25 years old) is a way to find out IF you want to DEAL with people. Will you make lots of money, NO NO and NO. Can you love it? YES.

Is it for a full-time, living well type of job? I don't think so. If you have NO debts, hardly any expenses and can grow what you eat, then it's OK. Start off small and grow, don't jump in and borrow money for it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 6:18PM
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