What do you like about the business?

juniorballoon(Z8a WA)October 27, 2005

We get a lot of threads about the difficulties of running your own business or the downsides of the green industry. BruceNH posted in the Backyard Nursery thread, "One point missed, that I enjoy allot...is that plants grow!". In a round of golf you can hit one ball just right, it feels great and you're ready to forget the frustrations and come back another day to play again. What is it about what you do that you like, that makes it worthwhile?

Even though I have yet to open the doors, it is growing plants and discovering new-to-me plants, learning how to germinate/propagate and grow them that keeps me going.


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I love how a year-round growing operation just mirrors the cycle of life for all things. It makes me feel connected. I also love growing, instead of retailing because my season is basically over when everyone else's is just beginning. I know "ahead of time" what new introductions are winners and what ones aren't. I also love the connection horticulture brings me with the world, according to nature.

I awaken at dawn, listen to the birds' morning song as I work, see all the insects as they hatch out, and watch the snakes and deer and other critters as they watch me. Weather and the length of daylight hours has a real significance to me, and not just something we talk about in passing. It gives me a great feeling to see a bench of beautiful things I helped create.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 5:53PM
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the pay check.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:24PM
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The plants. From germination onwards. Gardening. Design. Did I mention plants? Being outdoors. The scents. Oh, and did I mention the plants? Heck, I even have a sneaking liking for weeds and their ways.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:27PM
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Hap_E(z9 Berkeley CA)

I have to say there is someting wonderful about an early morning spent lining out fat spiney blobs in perfect grids. Pop-Art with cacti and seeing them glisten in the sun as they leave their germination chambers and move on to trays for the next stage of growth.

It makes up for all the freaky customers, not enough room and worrying if the Bay Bridge reconstruction will kill another weekend's worth of sales....

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:53PM
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I'm with Mich .. the paycheck.

Gardening is a lot of fun and I'll do it long after i retire ... but the business is another story.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 10:25AM
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I love it when you make a service call to a recently installed garden and find that mo blow and go have weed whacked the entire garden. I love it when someone says "the cheque is in the mail" or someone who has pushed for a job to be done in a hurry then asks what your hourly rate is.
I love the sight and smell of the plants in my own garden and the fresh earth between them, a garden I can pamper or neglect with nobody else to please but myself, and the woman I love.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 4:12PM
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I have one of those brains that files away trivia and interesting facts. Being a graphic artist I'm all about making connections while communicating information. So I enjoy the face to face part of selling, where I get to go on and on about a specific quality of a plant beyond what it looks like or smells like. I grow & sell my own stock and all of that is fun for the obvious reasons but the part I enjoy most is the stuff that sets me apart from the other vendors at the market - the odd little stories that help sell a plant.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 4:51PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Hoping for a paycheck!

"To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given the chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy. As everyone else, I love to dunk my crust in it. But alone it is not a diet to keep body and soul together."
--Bette Davis

And after working in stress with lots of folks for many years, I'm loving low stress and solitude. But my pocket is a lot lighter. Maybe somewhere there is a happy medium?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 5:08PM
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That was easy for Betty to say, she had a full time house keeper, a butler, a chauffeur and a full time personal assistant.

Gravy my arse, it was more like a silky beurre blanc sauce made with clarified sweetened butter , a pinch of tarragon and a 1997 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

For crust I'll take a flakey phyllo dough rolled in toasted pinenuts and stuffed with sauteed spinach and goat cheese.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 8:14PM
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The best part is that there are so many different places you can be in this business. I liked mowing lawns for a while, I liked building rock gardens for while, I liked building patios and walkways for a while, I liked designing and building walls for a while, I liked siting houses for a while, I liked laying out condos for a while, I like negotiating things before regulatory boards, ...

There is always something new to do, if you like change or you want a better fit.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 10:12PM
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juniorballoon(Z8a WA)

mich, what you say is often true of the rich, but it doesn't under cut the meaning of her words. The money was nice, but it didn't give her life meaning.

In the movie the Aviator Howard Hughes is invited to dinner at Katherine Hepburn's families house. They are sitting around the table and these people who have never known a momnet of want are pontificating about how unimportant money is. Howard is getting annoyed and pipes up with, "Well that's because you've got it." Very funny line and point well taken.

Money is important. Is it the only reason you are doing what you do? I have a day job who's main point is that they pay me. But there are lots of little things that make this job more than tolerable and even enjoyable. And it is this job that affords me the monetary ability to persue a nursery. Perhaps you need a vacation to get back in touch with your muse.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 12:10AM
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One of the things I like about this business is being able to work outside. I like the fresh air and the wind and the open space. I like watching the creatures that live outside and how they go about the business of living. I would not do well working in an office building or behind a desk.

And the sad truth for me is that I like plants better than I like people. Plants talk in quiet humble voices that stretch over eons. My mind hears that calmness better than human voices in demanding, ego driven, now, now, now harshness.

For my own sanity I have begun an effort to learn more advanced people skills. The hermit thing wasn't working very well anymore, but that need for the quiet voice I find in plants and nature will always be a core part of my character.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 5:25AM
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I was thinking on how I would like to respond to this thread when laag's post seemed to sum it up nicely for me. I think the diversity of this business is what appeals to me the most, not only in the hats one can wear but in the variation that occurs even with just a single hat. Every day is a different set of issues to consider - new projects, new clients/customers, new questions, new plants. An eternal learning process that for me at least never gets boring.

And it is very interesting to me to see how my career has morphed since my entry into the "green industry". Not exactly the same path laag's took, but certainly similar in the change or narrowing of focus and the development of more and more finely honed skills as the years have gone by.

The paycheck was never an issue for me. I left a lucrative corporate career to pursue this dream and the salaries of the two are light years apart. I make enough to pay my bills and support my plant habit and that's all I am concerned about. It is the satisfaction of the job and the passion for the business, the creative outlet of the designs and the joy of nature that is its own reward.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 10:11AM
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Definitely the plants. Being able to watch them grow. I love watering. I do my potting outside at my home at a large table, so I can sit and look out at my gardens and the wildlife. I so appreciate it when customers tell me how well the plants they purchased from me have done. Since we live in a small community I often see their gardens with plants from my store. I love everything about the nursery business. It is not my main income, so the paycheck is not such a big deal for me.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 12:11PM
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Most of the time I enjoy my job and I chose this profession because I love the variety of challenges that it affords me but if given the chance that the Hepburns had, I would not be 'working' this job for a living.

Instead I would be shopping for my own 20 foot tall Brahea armartas to line the driveway to my waterfront estate and playing around in my own Lotus Land, not others.

Call me odd, but I work for the paycheck so that I can purchase plants , sculpture and soil amendments so that I can enjoy myself working in my own garden.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 2:00PM
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Gardener(z6 PA)

The smell and feel of dark rich soil through my fingers on a spring morning.

The amount of seeds that come from one plant.

Watching a child see germination for the first time.

Working in the greenhouse in Feburary.

Cooking with fresh Herbs from my own garden.

The first tomatoes of the season on a big fat BLT.

The smell of a gardenia.......

An entire greenhouse filled with Poinsettias.

Having a customers neighbor ask me if I have any time to work for them. (priceless)

People paying me well.... to do what I love.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 4:27PM
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"Call me odd, but I work for the paycheck so that I can purchase plants , sculpture and soil amendments so that I can enjoy myself working in my own garden. "

I was once asked the question : " If you won the lottery would you still do your job as a landscaper ?? "

The answer was part yes and no .. I would build a botanical garden .. a big one .. and be up to my ears in plants.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 8:34PM
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juniorballoon(Z8a WA)

I would never call you odd, at least not for that reason.;)


    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 5:00PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Yesterday, while at work,I v-e-r-y gently moved a Monarch butterfly from a cold shady place to the top of a warm brick wall. When I checked a half hour later, he was gone-

And it has been great to be outside these last few days, makes up for the 103 degrees earlier.

Of course, like Michelle, it would have been better if it was my brick wall in my Gillette garden!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 4:04PM
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dirtyin_nh(z4 nh)

My answer in November is different then in April. But today I like the long New Hampshire winter since I cut back the last garden and planted the last bulb today! I am also happy about the client who called and said he loved the garden i planted two years ago - because something was always in bloom (no kidding). He said he couldn't believe it when I planted it - it cost that for that?! But now he sees it was worth what he paid and more-and of course he was the only client I have had who argued about the bill. (maybe I whould raise my prices?;)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 4:43PM
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What do I like about the business?

The winters! I get the winters off!

.....watch it snow...go skiing...stoke the wood stove...go snow shoeing.....cook a slow cooking stew...go winter camping...yes, I like the winters!


    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 5:37PM
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Ya know, I use to think I had it pretty good living in temperate Northern California with nearly year round beautiful weather for gardening.

Now I realize I made a big mistake in choosing a warm weather climate to ply my trade in.

I should of just stayed in New England where I would have the benefit of having the entire winter off from work.

Instead I stupidly migrated toward an endless summer climate which affords me with 365 days of temperate gardening / working weather.

Man I blew it in a Big Way ... what the hell was I thinking ! ?

crumbs , foiled again. : ~ (

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 10:21PM
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dirtyin_nh(z4 nh)

I guess it comes back to the paycheck! 12 months of getting paid sure beats six months. When i look at how much I made this season and double it - boy sure looks better!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 9:16AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Yeah, sure Mich. You cry all the way to the bank, as you use those balmy California January days to do twice as many profitable installation projects as we northerners can. Pthpt! heh heh

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 10:24AM
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Ok , but a crackling warm fire, a good book and your dog at your feet on a snowy winter day without the phone ringing and reams of vellum at your feet sounds pretty darn good too.

' The groundcover is always greener in someone else's yard '.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 11:11AM
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I really like being my own boss. Having your own business demands infinite flexibility and I enjoy the challenge of trying to cope with the different skills required. I hate working for other people, hate sitting behind a desk, hate being limited by those above or below you, hate office politics. Gossip makes me uncomfortable.
I like to think that many gardens in the towns and cities surrounding us have been beautified by the plants we grow. I like to think of all the shrubs, clematis, perennials, etc. we have grown in the past few years that now adorn other gardens.
It beats any other work I've ever done.
And I especially like this time of year, when the plants are tucked in for winter waiting for the snow. Customers have stopped coming in, but the long, slow autumn here has allowed us to do all sorts of work we normally just dream about accomplishing. The place looks great.
And we had a good season.
I like our customers. They kept us alive, supported us, especially at the beginning, when our offering was pretty scant. Every time they choose to buy one of our plants, they choose our nursery over the box stores, the grocery stores, the garage stations, the variety stores and other nurseries.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 10:43AM
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txjenny(z8 TX)

I love having the freedom to do my own thing. I love not punching a time clock. I love being a part of creating something beautiful. I love the smell of rosemary, i love the rock yard at 7:00 am (call me crazy), and I love that I earn enough to provide all the "fun" stuff for my family. I don't really dig insurance rates and people that say "while you're over there planting that, why don't you just add 3 more of those?" and expect the invoice to remain the same! And I do love the feeling of accomplishment that I'm running my own business and 100% of my clients are had by word of mouth.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2005 at 7:15PM
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I liked being an owner and the intense joy that my incredibly loyal following enjoyed from my hard work. I had many people who just stopping by my garden center could revisit the feelings they had when they walked in their grandmothers garden. Some came as a form of therapy. Others came at night when I advertised in advance about the opening of the Night Blooming Cereus. Still others loved the fragrances, oh how I loved finding new and aromatic plants. Hummingbirds loved my place for they knew dozens and dozens of tasty plants awaited them in all sorts of colors not just red. For some I was the home greenhouse they wanted but could enjoy none the less. The joy I felt in treating the poorest customer just like I did the customer who (literally) was a millionaire and founder of a NYSE listed company. Being in the greenhouse in the quiet of January and feeling warm and seeing beauty all around me. Working harder than I knew I could work and feeling pride and fulfillment. Sharing moments of excitement with a customer who for the first time saw an American Goldfinch or Red Breasted Nuthatch at a feeder I sold them with the correct food to attract them. Being well known in a 6 parish area(county for those of you not from Louisiana) for the fantastic diversity and quality of the plants I sold. I had the pleasure of dining with the late J.C. Raulston of North Carolina. Knowing the late Dr. John Griffin of Louisiana Tech University, a man who made you feel like the most important person in the world,at least to him, every time you visited with him. It was about me but it was also about connecting with all kinds of people.I have been out of the business as an owner for 7 years and I miss the people the most.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 1:01AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I must second what ilima so beautifully wrote:

"Plants talk in quiet humble voices that stretch over eons. My mind hears that calmness better than human voices in demanding, ego driven, now, now, now harshness."

So many of the career aptitude tests I took pointed me towards jobs like machine technician, etc., which made no sense because I'm not at all mechanically inclined. After 40 years of living, I finally figured out that I was meant to be a PLANT Technician, only the tests don't have a specialized category for that!

I like showing up at the same location every week and seeing that the plants look just a little bigger, or greener, or glossier, or there's a new flower that wasn't there last week (saw my first dracena bloom last week - never even realized that they bloomed - it looked like a tiny bromeliad flower only in white). I like the trial and error of adjusting the watering for the weather and the seasons and the HVAC systems. I love seeing the results a few weeks after I fertilize.

I like to think that I bring a bit of nature to the stressed-out cubicle slaves who have to wear pantyhose and neckties instead of blue jeans.

I like it when someone walks by and comments on how nice the plants always look. One lady said it was obvious from the way I took care of the plants that I really loved them. That made my whole week!

But mostly I like that the plants don't talk back...

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 10:06PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

That might be why you scored so high in the machine area. Not necessarily because you are mechanically inclined, but because you prefer working alone, focusing on your subject (whether plants or machines). Many engineers and mechanics are solitary personalities, as well. It comes down to needing a low-stress atmosphere where you're working with things that don't talk back or "diss" you.

I can relate, because I share that temperament. Writers, horticulturists, artists... Most of us are introverts who gain our energy from within.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 10:11AM
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