Next year, will be my thirtieth year working in the gardening business, which makes me a wee bit older than 30 years old. When I look back over the time that has passed, I think of customers who have come in with small children or who were pregnant and now they come in with those children who are all grown up. I love that about my business and my job.
I love new customers who have never been in the store, who come in and are amazed by how big the store is and by the amount of unique things merchandise we have. I love seeing customers who have moved away, and when they come back to visit friends, they say they absolutely have to visit Buckman’s because there is no store near their new home that has the unusual collection of items that we do. That always makes me proud of our buying choices and our talent for displaying product so that you want to buy it and make it part of your home.
It has been fun watching the product change over the years. I remember stuffed lawn sheep and how we could not keep them in stock one season. I remember when we started carrying banners and people would buy a pole for a family member and then be able to give the gift of a flag for the next holiday, birthday, anniversary. There were Webkinz, and cutout “Welcome” signs attached to the tops of wreaths. There are so many different phases to speak of I could go on for days.
I actually think the hardest phase is the boutique we have now. It is so personal and everyone has different tastes. When decorating a home, there are basically two color tones people choose from, warm tones and cool tones. We tend to veer more toward the warm tone side of the color spectrum since that is what our customers tend to decorate with, and we all are efficient with working in those color schemes, but the boutique is a whole different animal. There is no set pattern and as much of a challenge as it is, I love that my customers constantly keep me guessing and on my toes. I am sure my taste has evolved and become more sophisticated, but that is, again, due to the fact that my customers has have become more demanding of high quality and a reasonable price.
I also love that I still am in touch with my very first employee and that I have employees who will be my friends for life. I feel very fortunate. I love that customers still ask me about my brother who hasn’t worked with me for 18 years. He must have made a lasting impression to make people still inquire after him. I have also had the privilege to work with my sister for most of her life. She is the really definitely the most creative talented one in the family. She is like the Energizer Bunny, . She is always putting more on her plate to do than any two people I know, but she always gets everything done and it always turns out fabulous. Soooo now that you know that I love my customers, my job, my employees, and my family, let me move on to more informative items.
When I was talking to Megan, my social media person, she suggested I put informative things in my blog. I asked, “Like what?” She said, “Anything. Give people personal, witty tips about gardening and decorating their homes.”
A light bulb went off. I thought about an instance a couple weekends ago when I was at my stepdaughter, Lauren’s house for dinner. Her daughter, Gracie, asked me if I wanted to see her garden. I, of course, said yes, so we equipped ourselves with a basket to put our bounty in and set out. and she Gracie said to me, “Mom says to pick the basil as it is getting big.” I watched as Gracie started to pull off the big bottom leaves near the bottom instead of picking from the top where there were lots of flowered spikes sticking up. So I explained to Gracie that what she needed to do was pick those flowered spikes off because doing so will make the plant keep producing leaves and make it bushier, too. I said if she needed to pick some she should pinch down the stem from the top. She needed to pinch the leaves off just above the point where they meet the stem. This way, the plant will push out two new branches and keep producing more leaves.
When we took our harvest back inside, I explained this same thing to my Lauren. She said she never knew that was how you kept basil growing and preventing it from going to seed. So for those of you new to gardening this may be a tip that us old gardeners know, but it is a helpful hint for gardening newbies when tending to your herb plants.
I also encountered another interesting situation the other day while planting a bed at a local restaurant. First, all the old bushes needed to be dug out of the bed and the overgrown weeds needed to be pulled and sprayed. I am a huge proponent of Roundup Weed & Grass Killer. Any time I am planting a new bed or area, I always make at least two passes with the Roundup, about a week apart, before I plant with new fresh flowers and shrubs. The young man from the restaurant, who was assisting me with the project, pulled out all the old plants and sprayed the weeds. He then added soil to the bed. When I got there to plant he asked if he should spray again before I planted. I was a little confused since there was nothing but fresh soil in the bed. He said he didn’t know if all the weeds had died, and wondered if he should spray again, just in case.
HERE is the secret: weed killers only work if there is a weed to spray. Almost all weed killers work systemically, which means when you spray the weed, it pulls the killer down into the plant and down to its roots, which then kills the plant. If there is new dirt with nothing showing, there is nothing to spray. At this point in the project, I will have to wait for the weeds to come up and carefully spray the weeds and not our new plantings. You can spread an herbicide, which will prevent weed seeds from germinating in the bed, but it will not keep established weeds from coming back up in that bed.
I can give you another for instance. I moved into a new townhouse this spring. The flower bed in the front had not been kept up, and there were thistles coming up everywhere. I must have sprayed those thistles at least six times. Thistles are the kind of weed that, if you pull them and break the stem, a new plant will push up from the break because they have long, underground roots. They are very hard to get rid of. I think I’ve conquered them, but I would bet that next year, I will have to spray them several more times before they are gone for good.
If you live never an open field that has thistles growing, it will be an on-going problem in your beds. I have always felt that the local municipalities should start a program to try and control thistles in the wild to lessen the problem for homeowners. Home- and landowners should have to mow any fields that have become overgrown with them so they do not go to seed and then send thousands of those seeds across other fields and homeowners’ properties. I know that when I lived in Plumstead Township there was a field overrun with thistles. The township came in, mowed them, sprayed and then mowed several more times. The result was a beautiful grassy meadow that was a lot nicer to look at and thistle free.