Sunday, May 3, 2009
Served with a smile
Yesterday marked my one-week anniversary of full-on country greenhouse ownership. I thought there might be a wittier way to say that, but apparently not--growing is labor-intensive, but at its root (ha!), a pretty simple endeavor. I mean, most of us know how to carry a plant along from infancy to flashy teenagerhood, past the awkward in-between stage and into the beauty of blossoming, when the flower has never looked better and knows it. This is the beauty part of growing...looking out at a chock-full greenhouse and, as the proprietor, seeing what other people, my customers, see: wild possibility; the potential to have the garden of one's dreams. It really is something. Unfortunately, though, I also know what it looks like in January: empty. All seven greenhouses bare, except for a few things carried over in the one we'll heat year-round, two or three lone plants on the warming bench looking a little worse for the wear. The rest is up to us. We'll order the seeds and cuttings, fill our trays with potting mix, and it's off to the races in a kind of lather, rinse, repeat scenario that plays out several thousand times over. I know I said it's simple-if we're talking a few plants here and there, or even a hobby greenhouse. Greenhouses, though? Full of flowers I grow myself? That people will pay real money for? There is so much planting-and planning, and exquisite timing, that to think about it for more than a few minutes each day, for now, is completely overwhelming. But-once this selling season is over, and all the retail issues are shaken out and sifted, and we sweep and scour and organize the barn and put the signs away and take a breath, me and my sweet husband will sit down at our kitchen table and map it out. We'll pore over notebooks-full of teeny-tiny handwriting left by the previous owners, and things that were second nature to them will emerge from between the lines, and with the dates and figures, together, he and I will crack the code. For now, I'll do what I know-I'll peddle the wares. I'll visit with customers, water the plants, replenish the stock, make it look beautiful, and move the merchandise-which, if you ask me, is really just about getting underneath people's skin; seeing what they want and delivering it with a big smiley bow. I'll reapply my deodorant several times before noon because man is it hot in there, I'll get a real nice tan no matter how much sunscreen I apply, and I will confuse Lobelia and Phlox and Bacopa at least once every day. I will make mistakes. I don't have to be an expert, right? This is as much about moxie as it is about plants. Courage. Pluck. Grits. I think I got it. The rest is bound to come.