IMG_0417Horticultural industries are full of them; those who changed their respective careers half way through to do something ‘green’. We hear it all the time. “I used to be a ______ (Fill in the blank.), but I got so tired of ______ (Fill in the blank again.) and decided to get into landscaping.” Really?!? That is what you think of the landscape industry? Anyone who flunks out in your industry can ‘easily’ make it in landscaping?

While driving the delivery truck (because we could not hire a frustrated brain surgeon to do it for us), I had to deliver truckloads of rhododendrons to a ‘landscaper’ who did several jobs in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. This ‘landscaper’ would walk through the nursery and tag whatever looked good at the time, and then assemble the landscape when the selected material arrived on site. Of course, he selected material that was in full bloom at the time, so the flowers were deteriorating by the time they arrived. His ‘landscapes’ were atrocious! The material was just tossed together so randomly, with plants that needed shade out in full sun, and full sun plants in the shade of big trees that were not pruned before the landscape was installed.

I can distinctly remember a job in the Oakland Hills that had two big Canary Island date palms that had not been groomed for many years. Decaying fronds were sagging low enough to mingle with the carcasses of agave blooms that were still sort of standing (or not) around the perimeter of the yard. Below these two palms (and I mean ‘below’, and within only a few feet of the trunks), the ‘landscaper’ had installed a few Colorado blue spruces, even more saucer magnolias, and about as many Japanese maples. These poor trees were literally pressed up against each other, and the rhododendrons that were getting delivered still needed to be stuffed in with them! Well, I could go on about how bad the ‘landscape’ was, but you probably get the point. Really, agaves and rhododendrons.

While unloading, the ‘landscaper’ explained to me, using the classic line mentioned above, “I used to be a chiropractor, but I got tired of all the stress and decided to get into landscaping.” He then continued to explain to me what made his career so stressful. After unloading the truck, I explained how frustrating it is to not be able to hire anyone to drive the truck or do the hard work at the farm. I hate working the irrigation through the middle of the night when summer gets hot. I am tired of the mud and rain in winter. Perhaps I should become a chiropractor!

Well, he did not like that much. He said that the two industries are completely different. Okay, I get that. He had to go to school for many years to earn his degree. Okay, I get that too. He had to work long hard hours for his career. Okay, I am still following here. It is a very stressful job that is not for everyone. Okay, have you worked out in the summer heat and dust, or winter cold and mud, until the sun went down, and sometimes into the night? Can you drive a tired old tractor or operate a chain saw? Do you even know how a shovel works?

The more he tried to explain to me that a chiropractor can become a horticultural professional, but a horticultural professional can not become a chiropractor, the more I realized how qualified I was for his former job. Yet, the horticultural industries are crowded with those who should be in other industries, or who simply do not take their work as seriously as it should be.

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