Roughly a year ago, I took my current position as Nursery Manager at Arrowhead Alpines. It has been quite an experience – a wonderful, exciting, mind-expanding experience. Here are some of the things I've learned:
1. I don't know anything about plants
Or rather, I don't know even a tiny percentage of what I wish I knew. As a home gardener, all I really needed to know was how different plants performed in my garden. Just one climate, one soil type. And from an aesthetic point of view, all I needed to know was if I thought a plant was pretty. In the mail order nursery business, I need to know how a plant grows in the ground, how it grows in a pot, how well is ships, how it can be propagated, and how it will perform anywhere in the contiguous United States. I find myself saying “I don't know” a lot more these days. Will this grow in deep south? Is this hardy in zone 3? I don't know! I've only gardened in zone 5! I'm also learning a huge amount, and wonderfully, often when I have to say “I don't know” to people, they go off, find the answer, and then send me an e-mail sharing what they have learned. Which brings me to the next lesson:
2. Most people are awesome
We've got a lot of great customers. I love checking my e-mail and finding notes from people who are happy with the plants they got or sharing information we can use, offering to give us a bit of something super cool and rare. People recommend us to their friends, write about us on their blogs, want to know how Brigitta is coping with Bob's death, and want to help. It is amazing. I love you people. That being said, however....
3. A few people are CRAZY
There was the guy last spring who drove through the nursery and off past all the buildings into the middle of the back field looking for the main office, who then, when Brigitta chased him down and got him back to the actual nursery, accused us of false advertising because we didn't carry all the plants mentioned in some random article in Fine Gardening magazine that we did not write. O_o Or the folks that order the miniature rock garden plants we specialize in and then complain that they too small (sort of the point, people...) It can be a little maddening. But mostly, I just have to laugh. And luckily, 99% of our customers are, as I said, absolutely wonderful.
4. I still like plants. And gardening.
There is always that fear that when your hobby becomes your job, it will suck the joy out of it. I'm very happy to say that hasn't happened. Quite the contrary, I think I'm even more plant obsessed than I was before, if that is possible.
Those are the things that come to mind... Anything you are wondering about the life of a nursery person? Ask in the comments and I'll try to give you an answer.