I have had many thoughts about which direction my career will take me the past four days. Attending the California Spring Trials, I have observed many titles in the horticulture industry. Before attending the trials, I thought seeing what was out there could lead to some major advancement. As I work full-time as a grower at my hometown community college, every year I retrain “newbies” into our world. I lead by example and sometimes wonder if I am doing the right thing. This week, I have been placed in the student’s shoes, as I am the one being trained.
Set-aside all the varieties (of which, to be honest, about 80% become a blur), I have come to the realization that being a grower is where I belong. I would be horrible at sales pitches. I think that I would have to have plants that I personally choose to grow in order to express the passion that they display. Don’t get me wrong, some plants are so incredibly cool that I cannot help but be excited enough to talk about it to every person that comes in contact with me. Sometimes I even believe that this level of excitement could sell dandelions to a golf course superintendent. As Dr. Armitage explains, “You have to have a story.” Think about it. If you can carry on a conversation about a chosen plant, you gain experience. That experience is forever a part of that plant. It may very well be the fragrance that reminds you of your childhood or the reminiscence of the friend who shared the plant with you. No matter what, there has to be something that creates these connections.
Besides all the excitement, there is a level a satisfaction that I get from growing. I could try to attempt to describe all the introductions that I would pick up to have on my benches, but I’ll leave that to the professionals. For now, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge of what new varieties I may try next year. I have learned that my grower brain needs to be less selfish and not grow so many dang compact plants (Don’t gardeners want big impact anyway?). So kudos to those who are not growers. I will continue to do what I feel I am best at, and I will keep my shirt untucked while I do it.
Thank you to Kemin for its support of the 2017 Dr. Allan Armitage California Spring Trials Scholarship.