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The Real Poop

No, the real poop in this scenario does not relate to fertilizer.

We all know who a retail nurseryman is – he’s the guy who works in that sunroom at Orchard Supply Hardware and gets to spend all day sniffing flowers and watching trees grow. Right? Er… no. Working in a retail nursery is nowhere near as easy or cut-and-dry (or cut-and-water) as many people may think. It is certainly less stressful than other jobs. In fact, it can actually relieve stress. However, working in a retail nursery is like no other type of work, and it involves variables that those who have never done it may not realize. Let’s take a look at what it means to be a retail nurseryman, and why it isn’t just a shear (misspelling intentional) walk in the park.

Sure, working at a high-stress job isn’t a good thing. And yet, the opposite extreme can waver on tedium. Dragging hoses around to keep the nursery properly watered during hot summer weather gets a bit monotonous after an hour or two, and certainly after four, eight or even ten hours. Deadheading (removing faded flowers from) flowering annuals is relaxing for a while, but again, it gets monotonous. It can really get to a person, even though most Deadheads are pretty relaxed.

Fortunately, retail nursery work is actually more exciting than that most of the time. There is always a variety of weather to keep things interesting (unless you work in certain parts of Southern California, where it’s 75 and sunny all day, every day). Not only does heat necessitate more watering, but it can make working conditions uncomfortable when it gets too hot. When it gets too cold, sensitive plants need to be protected from frost damage. If they’re really sensitive, they may also need to be protected from insults. Strong winds can do considerable damage to nurseries since none of the trees are actually rooted into the ground. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

The most interesting variable is the customers. They are the human factor. Most want something that they read about in a magazine or saw on television, even if it is not at all appropriate to their particular climate or soil type. No one seems to understand that what Martha Stewart does in New England may not work in California, Florida, Texas or any place outside of New England. They just read about it in a magazine and want it now. Ironic, as it was exactly that kind of pigheadedness that got Martha Stewart in trouble with the law.

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