I’ve worked at nurseries and greenhouses for nearly a decade now and, as all my friends will attest, there is not much I really love more. I’m probably the only 21-year-old ever who willingly admits that gardening is her favorite hobby. Our house is filled with gardening books, with herbs and houseplants I’ve salvaged and planted in whatever empty containers I can find, and a pair of pruners makes its permanent home in my glove box. As well as an impressive knowledge of plants, my time in horticulture has taught me many life lessons.
1. Good things come to those who wait. Trees, of all kinds, are beautiful and add so much to the landscapes or city-scapes they are a part of but trees take years to reach their mature size. In the Internet age, I find myself wanting instant results more and more and forgetting that anything worth having also takes time. I cannot even begin to count the number of times customers come into the nursery looking for trees that will reach full size in a hand-full of years (an impossibility) and, upon my explanation of how long trees take to reach maturity, walk away from what would have been a stunning addition to their yard were they willing to be patient and wait.
2. Perspective is everything. There are so many beautiful wildflowers native to our area (all of the flowers pictured below are wildflowers in New York state). Once I explain to customers that the perennial they’re admiring is a wildflower they nearly almost always put it down in disgust: “So its just a weed!!” But that’s just a matter of perspective! As the old saying goes, one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.
3. Never take the healing power of nature for-granted. I work at the nursery I’m at a lot, probably more than I should for someone who’s also going to grad school, but if I’m having a stressful week working with the plants at the nursery always makes things so much better.
4. Getting dirty is good for your soul. Most days when I get done with work I have dirt under my finger nails, dirt covering my hands, and dirt smudged all over my face and I could not be happier. Get your hands dirty, stand in the rain, run through some mud, swim in a creek, you won’t regret it.
5. There is nothing more satisfying than creating something with your own two hands. I don’t really think anything more needs to be said about this one. At the end of most days I’m covered in dirt, my entire body is sore, and I’m exhausted but I get to step back from my work and see, physically, what I’ve created.
6. Everyone needs a creative outlet. The arts are not the only creative outlet out there. Music, painting, and literature are not the only creative activities out there. The landscape designs I work with customers on all weekend help to counteract the incredible amounts of science and linear thinking I have to do throughout the course of the week.
Gardening and the plants I hold so near and dear are not for everyone but I think these lessons are. Nature takes us back to a simpler, more beautiful life, one that we could all remember to live every once in awhile.