Originally appeared in VioletsFun Photo Journal, issue no. 10 (2000)
Over the past couple of years, our business has grown, more than doubling in size. Our workforce, however, has not. Like most small businesses, finding and keeping “good help” can be difficult to nearly impossible. Unfortunately, selling plants for a living means sometimes having to work 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week, for months at a time. Sometimes “violetswork” can get in the way of “violetsfun”.
As we said, good help is hard to find. Being that the work is growing plants, you would think that finding people to do this would be easy. “I love plants. What a great place to work! You must really love your job!” This is what we hear so often from visitors to our place. Not everyone with a love of plants is able to successfully work here, though. After all, everyone love plants. For some, this means admiring them from a distance. Walking through our ship and greenhouse is pleasure enough for them. Though welcome to visit, these people typically make poor customers, actually buying few plants, and would make worse employees. A visit to our place is enough–they wouldn’t want to work here.
Others like to have plants. Just owning them and having them to look at is enough. They have no desire to actually take care of them, though. We’d place a number of our job applicants into this category. We’ve even made the mistake of hiring them. Their first few days at work are filled with excitement and enthusiasm as they walk through the aisles of the greenhouse and look over the thousands of plants on the lighted plant stands. After all, what makes them happy is having plants, and they now “have” so many more! But having them is enough. Actually growing them, doing the day to day work, is far less exciting.
Then there are those who love plants as “pets”. They love plants, and they like to take care of them. We’ve hired this sort also. Since they do enjoy taking care of the plants, they make better growers. What they don’t realize, though, is that growing plants, here, is a business. Our plants are a product. A very well-grown product, we’d like to think, but a product nonetheless. One can pamper a pet when there are few to pamper, but one can’t pamper thousands and still expect to get all the necessary work done. These people usually enjoy their job here, though some feel “overworked” and leave. The ones that stay and succeed, are those that evolve into our next species of “plant person”.
What we need most are “nannies” for our plants. Just like a good nanny can take care of a dozen kids, as well as her own, a good “plant nanny” can take care of lots of plants very efficiently. This person enjoys the work of growing plants, and doesn’t get bored watering or potting plants for 8 hours a day. For a good “plant nanny”, it’s not just the plants that are enjoyable, it’s also the work involved in growing the plants. The ultimate reward for our plant nanny is seeing plants grow out and being sold, see their “kids” go to a good home. Any “plant nannies” out there looking for work?