Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Sun Is Out!

I admit it. I am a much happier person when the sun is out. I like the heat. Paul and I packed up some roses yesterday and by the time we were done his hands were turning colors again. Mine were actually warm for the first time ever... I think he got some frost-bite from playing with those bareroots.

Another piece of weed cloth found a new home in the dumpster today. I watched as Paul and Jethro made quick work of it. Very odd to look out my window and not see it any more. I don't miss it. It was ugly and the snakes would hide in it.

I have been having great fun today reading all the new rose reviews on our website. If you happen to grow a rose that we sell go and review it- what a great resource for other growers!

Our Facebook group is really taking off. I have been busy adding new and old friends. I can honestly say that I get paid to be online! I will be glad when winter is over and we can get back to the gardens. As a dear friend of mine posted this morning, he will eat 100 goldfish to have spring arrive a month early!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We Score

I love living in a rural area. With prices going up everywhere things here are still reasonable. In fact downright cheap sometimes.

Case in point. I settled the terms of part of the new land today that we are moving to. It all started when I thought we were going someplace else until I got a phone call. "Paul, it's Rhonda. We heard you were moving the nursery. What do you think about moving in here with us?" Now having been happily ensconced in a relationship for the past 18 years, it's been a long time since I'd had an invite like that from a member of the opposite sex so needless to say my interest perked right up!

"Here" is a small garden center about 3 miles from our current location, about 2.5 from where I thought we'd be going, but best of all about a quarter mile off Hwy 11 & Hwy 14. That is a major intersection with one of those new fangled, fancy, flashing single red lights hung right in the middle of the durn intersection. Yep, a bona-fide four way stop. That meant cars had to slow down and we could start participating in a great local past time called parting the tourists from their cash.

I've known the folks at Motlow Creek Gardens for years and they are great people. Our businesses are complimentary but different, and since they already had existing infrastructure like water, buildings, small greenhouses and most importantly a toilet, I thought this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

There was one hitch. While their property is perfect for sharing retail space there is no way it can hold five greenhouses, all our equipment and not to mention some 3600 rose plants we have in the ground. Jumping on the phone they called the man who owns the land behind them and asked if he would lease me five acres separately from my lease with them. He said sure and so he and I met, talked terms and that is why I love this area.

Five acres, long term lease, $100 per month total for all of it. Betcha can't get that in a city with real stop lights!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trials, Taxes and Blue Hands

We represent a great French Nursery Firm by the name of Delbard and we've entered some of their roses in the AARS Trials. This means the variety we're entering will be tested for two years in about 30 gardens all over the country. If it wins - jackpot! and like the executives of AIG we're going to Bermuda for our annual meetings. But even if it doesn't we'll learn a lot and start to get Delbard Roses out there.

These roses have to be shipped to the trial gardens bare root, meaning with no soil or anything. And they need to be shipped when the gardens are ready to plant them. That's why I found myself in the middle of a cold damp day, packing wet roses on a Monday afternoon. I'd forgotten how miserable packing bare root roses is in the winter.

The barn was 41 degrees on the kind of cloudy day when you can smell the rain coming. Worse, you can also feel it coming right down into your bones as the cold dampness works its way through layers of your clothes, under you skin then right down through your muscles. Layer that backdrop on top of working in an unheated barn, on a concrete floor, with wet thorny bare root roses and worst of all you can't wear gloves because then you can't tag and tie them. That's why my hands turned the color of Smurf poop. And that's why I really don't mind not offering bare root roses to our customers anymore. In fact I love our potted roses even more now!

But I still rather have blue hands and bare root roses (sounds like the beginning of a country song, doesn't it?) than have to deal with taxes - particularly employee payroll taxes. This maze like thicket of rules, regulations, forms and calculations is enough to give anyone fits. I always say small businesses manage to stick around despite the Federal Government, and if any of you have ever had to deal with this stuff you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Then there' s the amount we pay. I voted for Obama and my first message to him and all those folks up on the Hill is, "if you want to spur employment, cut my employee taxes in half and I can afford to hire that extra person I really need." The US Census Bureau estimates there are some 30 million businesses in this country with less than 10 employees. And I guarantee you each one desperately needs another pair of hands but can't afford it. So cut our payroll taxes so we can afford to hire someone else and bingo - 30 million new jobs!

And I won't have to have blue hands anymore.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


After reading what Paul has written, I wanted to share some of my thoughts. For those of you that have been to our place you know how truly special it is. Most of the land is still trees and pond. Then you have the gardens. Oh the gardens! The main mother block was already there when I arrived. 17 rows of it anyway. Now there are 25. While I don't dig holes I do map the entire planting. I know every single plant up there. Some were from my garden in California! Now add in the new gardens at the front of the property. How many hours of planning and planting. Walking it over and over again- the thrill we felt when some of those plants bloomed for the very first time. It just never fails to amaze me- God's grace right in front of us.

The first time I ever saw the nursery it was just my husband and I. I don't remember where Paul was. I got out of our car and just stood there. Amazed at the green in the middle of summer and the blooms from all those roses! Huge plants too! I was used to the bareroot crops in Wasco. These were stunning. And I got to work there.

I still get to work there. I am blessed to still be around. I am excited for the change but I will always miss this place I call home. I am the only employee who can honestly say she slept in the nursery- not by choice but because it was the only place with heat at the time! Ice storm, a story for another day. I will miss our big red barn and all the crazy critters that can be found wandering. Like the turkeys. The snakes can stay.

So a new day and a new view.


The move begins

While we've known about the move up till this past week it's sort of been something looming on the horizon. This past week changed that for me when we started actually pulling up parts of the nursery, keeping what we want to take with us and throwing away the rest.

Yesterday I pulled up two rows of black weed cloth that we use to set older plants on. They are in the open and not in cold frames so we don't need them right now. They've been there for years, nestled amongst the stand of older trees I left when the property was first cleared some ten years ago. We chose that area because the trees offered protection from winds and hot summer sun on the newly growing roses. There was a feeling of permanence to those areas.

I pulled them up with Jethro's (our larger Kubota tractor) front end loader and dumped them into the large dumpster we've set on the property during this time. As I looked back at the long stretch of now bare earth I suddenly hit me that we were leaving this property and the move was physically beginning.

As the old cliches say with endings come beginnings and we are actually excited about moving forward after the events of the past two years (see sidebar at right). The new space, which we'll talk about more in future, presents wonderful new opportunties that we would not have where we are now. So once we get over moving four 2800 square foot cold frames, one 2800 square foot greenhouse, an office full of stuff, a barn full of even bigger stuff, 3600 rose plants in the ground, some 14,000 in pots plus all the other things we are pretty certain we need but will probably throw away in another year anyway we are in the end quite excited about all of this.

And that's our story and we're sticking to it!