Working at the Greenhouse is what my husband’s family has done for at least 4 generations, if not 5. His great-grandfather started what is now called “Babikows’ in Baltimore and his uncles began what we called ‘Greenleaf’ in Lancaster. When we first married I got introduced to greenhouse life by living across the driveway from it…. and on the other side of them from his grandparents and down the street from other relatives who also worked in the family business. One of my favorite memories was watching the poinsettias arrive and grow and turn colors. Will never forget it. Our first ‘spring rush’ our first baby was due and Joel was spending his days on a delivery truck. Fortunately, I went into labor on a Sunday so all Joel had to do was drop his hose and take me to the hospital! Later we joined the other family business in Lancaster. Joel had worked there while he was still a teenager and had left it to go to horticultural school. His uncles had started the business with mostly their families (kids!) and a bunch of twenty somethings for employees, most probably excited about the idea and more ready to learn than knowledgeable, but it worked. I’m sure there were a lot of headaches for the uncles , but I don’t ever remember a payroll not being met. We often lived next to or on greenhouse property and I knew most of the employees and they us and our children. There were probably lots of aspirations on those days, ours included. What triggered these thoughts is a little discussion Joel and I were having of the plant names. Since this is my 4th week working in the greenhouse and working in the ‘tag house’ (really a trailer that used to be aforesaid uncles’ office!) I have started to memorize the names! There are several echinacea with names concerning the sun and the moon. Sunrise, Sundown, After Twilite (or is Midnight?), Harvest Moon, Summer Sky, etc. The moon the other night was a sliver on the bottom and I said, “Just wait till an echinacea gets named after that moon!” Then I said there is one that I really like to rattle around in my mouth. ‘Tiarella Susquehanna.’ Joel replied that it was Sinclair’s, one of those ‘aspiring 20-somethings’ And the T. Octarara, and T. Delaware…… ‘And what about “Dale’s Strain? Is that our Dale?” Yes it is. The friend who sent my sick husband home and did his work, and gave up his (and his wife’s!) bed and watched our greenhouses so we could get a decent night’s sleep during some harsh Christmas weather. He went on to own his business and now he’s up to something else, I’m not exactly sure what, but another adventure, I’m sure. The family business is no more as it was, although I think all are still in the same kind of work. Joel now works for another one of those 20 (or 30) somethings who bought the site his uncles sold. He worked with Joel when we lived in Chester County and sometimes his daughter would come to work with him and play with ours who was the same age to the month. They were funny girls together.
Even though some aspects of this business are more complicated than others, it is all meaningful work, whether it is filling soil flats, moving plants, dealing with customers, looking for bugs or engineering climate conditions to get the product you want when you want it, it all works together to bring beauty to people, beauty that started with a Creator. While there is always some competition in business, it’s a friendly business. In fact some of those ‘kids’ who had to scramble around working in the greenhouse and those ‘aspiring 20 somethings’ have been gathering for a game of darts on Friday after work in the lunch room (is that what you call it??) of another greenhouse business, I think three business are represented in the bunch of former ‘Greenleafers’. Friendship. Camaraderie.