This week marks my 25th anniversary at Lord’s Landscaping. Not bad for what was supposed to be a two-week job. Sometimes life just pushes you where you’re supposed to be.
Prior to working at Lord’s, I had spent three years as an inventory manager for a local auto-parts store. I spent my days in a dreary little cubicle with a 10,000-card manual filing system. I couldn’t even see if the sun was shining. Well, they finally computerized, and I found myself out of a job.
Not working was not an option, so the next day I asked my brother Jim, who was a manager at Lord’s at the time, to watch my son while I went to apply for a job. I didn’t get it. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Feeling sorry for me, Jim offered to put me to work planting annuals for him for a few weeks. The rest is history.
Well, I worked with the landscape maintenance crew for a week or so, and we blew through the flower plantings. There was still plenty of work to do, though, so I kept on rolling. After years in my cubicle, I was loving being outdoors, active and learning, learning, learning. Gardening had always been one of my favorite hobbies, and now I was being paid to do it on a big scale. It was a perfect fit.
That fall, my supervisor, who managed the landscape maintenance division, left for another job. I got his job by default, since no one else wanted the headaches that came with it. Before I knew it, 15 years had gone by.
I was content with my situation, but after 15 years, I had pretty much seen and done it all, as far as maintenance goes. When the garden center manager decided to leave that year and I was offered the position, I jumped on it for the chance to do something different. I’ve never regretted it. Now I had the opportunity to indulge my passion for all things chlorophyll.
Well, 10 more years passed while I was playing with plants. It doesn’t seem possible. But the milestone has arrived: 25 years.
A quarter-century demands some reflection. So much has happened in that time. Think about it. It was 1987 – five presidents ago!
So what has changed in that time? Well, Lord’s itself, in a huge way. When I started, there were no greenhouses – much of what is now the nursery was the Amos McCabe softball field (Go Bombers!) – and the staff was all male.
Now we have five greenhouses on the original property, plus the “Ponderosa” – the farm where we grow our plants – has 13 more. Our nursery now covers 4 acres, and it still seems we’re bulging at the seams. And our staff is a happy blend of genders and cultures. Really great progress!
What hasn’t changed? Well, it’s still a family business, with all its warts, but it’s a family I’m honored to have become a member of. We’ve seen each other through more crises than I care to remember over the years, and the support goes both ways.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is our love of the garden. Each of us at Lord’s is a certified chlorophyll junkie, and the passion shows. It’s a joy to watch our customers walk around with big smiles on their faces.
So what have I learned in 25 years? Here are a few “pearls of wisdom” that I’ve picked up over the years:
• Sod goes green side up.
• A 2-cycle engine will never start without cussing.
• Every greenhouse should have a cat.
• What’s hot in the plant world this year may not even be around next year. (Seen Pretty Much Picasso petunias lately?)
• Bugs never sleep.
• Keep your hair out of the hedge trimmers.
• Never underestimate what girls can do.
• Every child younger than 5 will pick up the gravel in the garden center and throw it. If there’s a pond nearby, they’ll throw it in there.
• There’s no accounting for taste.
• I have a bizarre ability to remember Latin plant names, but I am absolutely hopeless with people names.
• If you love what you do, it never gets old.
I would like to thank everyone who has made these 25 years such a joy, from my brother who hired me in the first place; to Bill, who didn’t know about it until I showed up but took it in stride; to all my co-workers over the years who kept me laughing all the way; and the clients and customers who have challenged me to keep moving forward.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without the quirk of fate that led me here, but I’m grateful that it did. If, 25 years from now, you see some little old lady tottering about in Greenhouse 2, that’ll be me.
Ginger Hogan is a Delaware Certified Nursery Professional. Do you have questions you’d like to have answered in a future column? Send them to Ginger at firstname.lastname@example.org.