Friday, April 24, 2009

Destiny Pursues Me

When I made the decision of what type of career I wanted to spend my life doing, I also knew it would not be a career that was noted for its income potential. I could not see myself stuck behind a desk and stuck inside. It would be far more preferable to work at something I enjoyed, even if it meant I was not going to get wealthy.

That choice has worked out as predicted. I know how to prune this overgrown apple tree, one of four that line the fence at the top of the ridge top garden without any fear. A degree in ornamental horticulture and twenty years of experience in landscape design and maintenance has prepared me well.

Client #5 was added today, right after my first day of work for Client #4. My life as a peasant gardener is back on track. Sigh. I can recommend planting Iberis sempervirens as an evergreen ground cover for steep sunny slopes.

The living laboratory I call home includes the mundane, the tough, the fussy and native and non-native survivors of a high elevation garden. Plant geeks live here and the collection is rather extensive. Oddities like Darmera peltata bloom before the leaves rise in the spring. I learn these things from interest and by osmosis.

"You lived in Hawaii for the last twenty year?" He knows the names of so many of these plants. "You're hired."

Many of the newer fancy gated communities where my preferred client base chooses to build are high atop the mountains. The view is up there. I have the gardening at an elevation experience advantage now as well. If something like this pops out of nowhere I can tell them what it is or suggest planting some in moist seeps that flow down their steep hillside gardens. The Darmera pompoms have spread some.

The Primula have been planted in several locations only recently I think. Will they reproduce? Will they spread themselves about? A peasant gardener wants to know.

In the twenty years on Maui I never looked for work. Jobs found me and I took many of them, sometimes resisting and fussing when saying yes. A career unfolded without much direction from me. Jobs were as plentiful as the purple violets of spring in the mountain forests of North Carolina. I often lamented there not being a small business component of the landscape degree program and my cursed lack of the gene for greed.

It took a while for me to place a real value on the work and craft that I offer my clients. Hopefully it won't take me that long to charge what I am actually worth as phase two of my career unfolds with grace and kindness, with no effort on my part. The peasant gardener of the high mountains has two feet in the door.

Who am I to resist destiny when it is graciously offered for the taking?


lola said...

I say go for it. Your knowledge is valuable not only for your clients for yourself as well.
Good luck.

Grace Peterson said...

I understand, at least to some extent. I was garden coaching for a few years. The money part was the hardest for me--not charging what I knew I was worth for fear of rejection or something. It's touchy.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You are worth a decent wage. Don't sell yourself short.

Siria said...

Hi Christopher ~ I am so happy that your business is growing. You are so knowledgable and will be of much value to many in those beautiful mountains!

chuck b. said...

Gardeners here I know charge high enough fees that they don't always get the job, but they make money on every job they get. I think that's key--never to lose money on a job.

Anyway, lovely where you are! I didn't know Darmera flowered before it leafed. Interesting.

And in California, primulas definitely do not spread. I wish!

Anonymous said...

Yay, that is very good news! You are smart to have followed your dream from the first, knowing the upside and downside up front. But as with art, interior design and other similar things, it's your knowledge and talent that you are charging for, not your labor - so it's worth more than one might think.


Pam/Digging said...

Congrats on your continuing career in a new location. Getting one's foot in the door is the hardest part, and you've already done that.

lisa said...

Who indeed? You are fortunate to be without the greed gene. I for one am supressing my consumerism gene and seeking to replace it with the courage-to-change-careers gene. It's finding the replacer that eludes me the most...well okay, MORE. :) Glad to hear that the locals are recognizing your talents more and more.