Water The People Not The Plants


I have many a fond memory of standing here admiring the shade plants. Standing here in the cool mist of the hose….or is it the gush of water from the leaky hose? Who cares when it’s humid and hot. I looked forward to watering time. Anytime is watering time if you work around little pots of flowers. A windy day will drive you nuts.

Our vegetables were out by the road and dried up about as fast as you could blink. They came in little 2″-4″ cups. The soil was light and airy. That spelled disaster on windy days. The tomato plants took the worst beating and looked like victims of a tornado.Their little body parts all dismembered and thrown across 7 counties. Not a sight for the faint of heart.

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protectedthe-briar-patch-2008-074It was nice standing under the canopy and enjoying the view. The plants under the canopy didn’t need watering as much as the victims baking in the sun. Have you seen a nursery worker water hanging baskets? Do you feel sorry for us? Do you think about what you are going to give us for Christmas? You should. And remember, they had to be hung to begin with. Most of the time when you are watering, there are little old ladies holding on to their canes about to tip over at any moment. Your hose is a lawsuit waiting to happen or worse….a funeral home’s best case scenario.

the-briar-patch-2008-013The inside hanging baskets are on drippers. See the water lines running over head? They have to be turned on one row at a time. You turn on the master valve and then start a sequence of turning on and off until water runs out the bottom of the pot. If all the drippers are on it takes more time cause of less pressure in the system. Takes you a little longer if you have to add fertilizer to the system. Fertilizer gets siphoned into the system with the turn of another set of valves. The geraniums are on another system that has drip lines. Two lines go in each pot. If you water geraniums from the top, the blooms will look horrible and the leaves not so pretty.

One of the customers ask me if wearing my crocs made my feet dirty and how did I stand it. If I don’t wear crocs, my feet rot. That does not sound nice but it is the most kind word I can think of for this situation. The lady looked at all the holes in my shoes and could not stand the thoughts of her feet getting dirty. Crocs keep your feet dry and clean. You can toss them off quickly and rinse them off in fertilizer water;) and they will dry in a few minutes. Tennis shoes and socks stay wet and make your feet look like prunes and smell like fermented road kill. Crocs are soft  so walking on all the uneven ground does not kill ya.

the-briar-patch-2008-053The drippers don’t drip on the flowers cause they are situated so they drip right down to the center of the pot. Unless, one went haywire and is squirting all over creation–you, the blooms, the plants below, and heaven forbid–the customer. That is what we call —little old lady killer no.2. So we see that the indoor hanging baskets are on drippers but what about those other 1,000 outside in the wind?

the-briar-patch-2008-006We must have been bringing some baskets from the main greenhouses cause I don’t see many hanging baskets but believe me there was always plenty. Look at that cute little yellow Sunbini and it’s friend Diamond Frost Euphorbia in the white. They won’t be this pretty in an hour if I don’t get busy watering the outside hanging baskets and move along to them which aren’t so cute all dried out. Nursery workers have a bad hair day every day. We have a leaky wand on the end of the hose. It will more than likely hopefully reach in to the pot of the hanging basket without spraying little old lady in the glasses. In the process of trying to be careful, you soak your arm and undergarments. The water follows gravity and on it’s way gets absorbed by anything and everything on its way. Here is where I strip naked and finally kill off the little old lady..not really.

the-briar-patch-2008-005You have to drag the watering hose carefully past little old lady and her wagon. If not, she will topple to the ground and skin her fragile self. The owners of this little/big garden center where I worked are sticklers for watering practices. You can water the flats from overhead but not the expensive 4″ and above pots. You must get the wand in there just so and let the stream of water hit the flowers at an angle. That way the water fills the pots without damaging the flowers. We don’t care if it downpours on them once you get them home;)

You play this watering game all day. You will water the vegetables several times a day. You’ll water one table one hour and another the next. Yes, we water first thing in the morning before the customers get there and once at closing after they have gone. But come on People…..the hot sun takes its toll and we know you aren’t going to buy a plant that has a frowny face are you?

the-briar-patch-2008-012The trees and shurbs are on a sprinkler system as are the perennials on the other side of the nursery. They come on twice a day. Although, I have been known to drag the hose out there when the sprinkler didn’t reach or new plants came in the middle of the day. My arms got longer and longer as the day went on. You can not turn the indoor drippers and lines on at the same time you run the out door sprinklers. If you do, you could out run the water coming out of the lines its so slow. And heaven forbid you flush a toilet.

the-briar-patch-2008-031Don’t drown the display flowers in the fountain out front cause it holds water and plants can’t swim. Don’t over water the succulants. Don’t forget to water the customer’s containers waiting to be picked up. Don’t forget to water the plants out by the road and hit the vegetables again. Remember to turn off the coffee pot and let the cats in. There is so much more I could tell you about why you should water the plants and not the people. And there is so much more involved in running a nursery. I’m just getting started. I haven’t killed the little old lady yet. We’ll save that for when she gets inside.



11 Comments Add yours

  1. eliz says:

    I can’t imagine working at a store now, but back in the day I would have taken this place over K-mart. Or bagging groceries at the commisary at Camp Lejeune. OK, those are awful examples. But I would have loved to worked at a nursery.
    You don’t have to worry about calories that is for sure! I’m glad to be back in the South as I missed the sweet tea!


  2. Anna, I thank you and all the people who care enough to take care of all the beautiful plants. I stopped buying from big box mostly due to you and all the wonderful information you have shared. I shop local to help keep them in business and the plants live and thrive much better. Yes, you deserve a big Christmas present…perhaps a new pair of crocks 🙂
    I haven’t wore a pair of Crocs out yet but would like to so I can get some new ones. I only wear them to work cause MrD doesn’t like them at all. He isn’t too fond of any of my gardening clothes—I wonder why? They aren’t particularly appealing but they are extremely comfortable.

    I had a lot of fun working at that little nursery and so glad to hear you are supporting the locals. You know, it’s probably harder on our plants down here than it is up your way as they sit in the nursery. All that sun dries them out down here.

    I worked with a very good staff at my last big box store but they were overwhelmed with every day chores. They couldn’t go around watering everything. They did work hard to help the customer and we sold lots of landscaping items like brick, soil, fertilizer, wheelbarrows, pine straw…ect.


  3. Another nursery worker, here – everything has the ring of truth, born of experience. I’ve had plenty of experience on the business end of a hose, at several nurseries and can relate to the attendant trials and tribulations, as well as the humorous slant you present.

    Now, when I pine for the good old days of managing the Bedding Dept., or maintaining a retail greenhouse, I’ll just let the gratitude for dry shoes wash over me, as I help customers in the nice, dry store.

    “Briar Patch” looks like a wonderful spot and your comment about private nurseries is spot-on!
    Agreed completely! The Briar Patch does have a few nice ladies who mostly stay inside and know their merchandise well. That wasn’t my cup of tea. I’d rather me in the plants. I have applied for a secretary job with our county cooperative extension. I know the issues that face NC environmentally. I am good at problem solving which are skills needed in this job. I can see me working with other agencies and state officials to help NC. The master gardeners are under this program. Many farm agencies and nurserymen use the co-op. It all sounds good doesn’t it? They ask for someone creative. Don’t you think that is me?


  4. Jared says:

    Whew! I’m tired just reading about all the watering! Great post and photos. Looks like a very nice nursery!
    It is a pretty shop and Diedra has the best taste in gift items. She has decorating items, food mixes like Mud SLide Brownie mix, and local produce. That little shop is called Sweet Peas and is located inside The Briar Patch. She has all kind of cakes you buy by the slice or get the whole thing. I loved the strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting.


  5. Genevieve says:

    Oh you are SO right. I remember the horror of pruny stinky feet – crocs are awesome for that. I’d just spray down my Merrills with water-resisting stuff, but too often the water would come in anyway and ICK.

    Oh gosh, yes, and watering those dratted baskets was a nightmare. I once watered a very quiet and camouflaged customer pretty thoroughly – luckily she was a VERY good sport about it and laughed it off. Thank you nice lady.
    Yeah, but isn’t it all fun? It is fun I think. It was all worth it when you looked over a sea of flowers. Or….. fun when you create an arrangement that someone loves. Fun when they bring back pictures to share. Or sell a house that had been on the market forever. It feels like you meant something and made a difference in their lives. That’s why I did it.


  6. Penny says:

    What a great behind-the-scenes look at nursery life! I’ve always felt like the worst job would be working in a big box garden center in Tampa in July. Yow!
    Good tips on the geraniums and the crocs! I will have to dig out my cobweb-filled baby blues.
    We had Tampa temps;) last year. I was working at a big box. I worked for the company that stocks plants for the stores. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I finished my one season and decided I was a private nursery type personality. It was hot no matter where you were outside. We had temps of around 98 degrees for weeks. Our plants were begging mercy.


  7. Philip says:

    Hi Anna!
    I loved the iside tour. You wanted to see if we were reading the whole post when you mentioned killing the old lady! well,you didn’t, not yet, anyway. I know what you mean about wet feet!
    When I worked at a nursery that was a real hazard. Your feet ache being wet. I am very careful today. At the time I purchased shoes that duck hunters wore from a catalog in Maine. Ah, dry feet. MUCH better.
    I had fun reading your post.
    Best regards,
    If it weren’t for little old ladies our garden centers would go broke. They have all the money. I’ve tripped on those hoses and it’s a constant worry at a garden center.

    Dry feet is a forever problem and sometimes dry undies too. You probably don’t get the hot hot weather like we do. It was a great time to lose weight.

    You did notice my silliness in the whole thing and I certainly could have put more as I tend to think that way. I am happy you took the time to catch it.


  8. I just love greenhouses full of flowering plants!

    Hope you are feeling better.

    I created a COUNTDOWN to SPRING widget that you (or anyone else) can grab to add to blogs/websites.
    Oh goodie, let me go get it right now. Sorry about last night. It was a major migraine moment.



  9. linda says:

    Hi Anna, boy can I relate! I had to chuckle about the dangers of the hose and little old ladies. That got me started thinking about hose kinks, dragging hoses all over the place, wet feet, and dousing myself with the hose on purpose on those hot, humid, sunny days. There are no drip systems at our place – everything is hand watered. Oy, working at a nursery it’s a lotta work, and quite a workout too.
    Yes, I think I’m sitting here getting too fat. My body is use to working hard not hardly working. My back is usually broken by now with all the bending over and filling pots to receive the plugs. I love the work and can tell you do to. When the plants are looking really good, it’s rewarding.


  10. House says:

    That looks and sounds like a really fun and rewarding job. I don’t know how you would have time for all that in one day though. Thanks for the eye tantalizing post.
    I’m so sorry for all the typos. I guess my last save didn’t take. I see feet where inches were suppose to be and am glad you saw through the mistakes.

    Yes, that was all accomplished in one day. It goes like that for about two to three months. The first of July, it settles down quite a bit cause people are done buying the bulk of their plants. Besides the watering, we are unloading, restocking the tables, rotating, dead heading, helping customers, and on and on. From February to July I usually lose 20 lbs and can eat all the calories I want. Unfortunately, I don’t work for these folks anymore. I’m home now wishing I was eating a lot. Instead, I’m dieting.

    Thank you for stopping by.


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