Gardening is the Best Job Ever
Earning a living by weeding, raking, digging, and planting has never been considered a high-status career. But when I lost my high-paying job in the Silicon Valley stock meltdown of 2001, becoming a gardener started to sound better and better.
After I lost my job, working as a gardener just appealed to me. It became a way for me to express my creative side, something I had been able to do in my software job.
Becoming a gardener was also a way for me to bid farewell to the fast track for something that has always offered me solace as a hobby. It was little wonder that I actually started thinking about making my living as a farmer when I was in high school but put that dream aside when I confronted the issues of making a living. Unfortunately, when I was suddenly faced with the real world of dwindling stock prices, the appeal of a career digging in the dirt held strong sway for me.
I learned later that becoming a gardener has become in the 2000s what chefs were to the 1980s, when a surging interest in fine foods elevated the status of cooking as a career. The same thing seems to be happening in the garden today.
Gardening as Psychotherapy
Of course, gardening isn’t all about how you manage a spade. Careers in gardening can range from simple greenhouse chores to planning elaborate plantings or overseeing the horticultural needs of vast estates. Fortunately, what I learned in high school agriculture courses helped me considerably in my floral design, conservation, education, and even psychotherapy, using plants to help soothe patients of an elder care facility I worked with.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was nothing embarrassing about leaving a stressful career in the Silicon Valley or Wall Street for a career in gardening.
At one time I took great pride in earning my living by creating and implementing sales programs that generated millions of dollars in revenue, but the pressure was wrenching. I could often even hear my pulse in my ears.
It didn’t take me long to discover that even with what I could recall from my high school courses, I could still learn more for use in my new career. As a result, I took courses to become a Master Gardener at my local University Extension. All of the coursework was even offered free of charge as long as I agreed to help more novice gardeners with my newfound knowledge teaching for the program. I even earned a certificate in landscape design in the process.
Gardening also led me to an interest in landscape architecture, something which is to gardening what city planning is to brick laying. The newest classes in this has 45 students, up from the usual 30 or so. The applications for the class that will start this fall are twice as high as usual.
After I received greater training I found a great demand for my services as local homeowners and business people spruced up their homes and offices with flowers and landscaping.
Sales Are Up
I found it litter wonder when I discovered that sales of flowering plants such as fuchsias increased almost 16 percent each year from 1976 to the present. Unfortunately, when it comes to people qualified to work at all levels of the industry, there’s a tremendous shortage.
Of course, I already had a college degree, but I found it very reassuring that no degree was required to get gardening work. Just as is the case for a chef, an aspiring gardener can start at minimum wage and learn on the job. Formal training is available for the asking at colleges, universities, and other institutions, that include academic courses in botany and plant physiology.
Jobs the Pay $5 an Hour
Especially for those who are switching careers for jobs in gardening, the wages are very low. This issue drives many prospects for the field away, but as the labor shortage increases, chances are good that the wages will too, which is good news for those of us who are refugees of high-pressure careers.
But perhaps the most important benefit of gardening that is available to everyone who embraces it as a career, is the peace and solitude that results from the work. It’s a feeling that can’t be matched by nearly anything else.