s p r i n g i s f i n a l l y h e r e. m a y b e.

Friday, April 3, 1998

i've always felt that absorbing too much news can cause stress in the reader. I'm a perfect example. Blood pressure becomes elevated as information that both offends and informs is digested and sorted and processed. Feelings of all sorts race through the brain as it reacts to data. Without recourse, rational thought is muddled and hurried. So I took the entire week off from news everywhere the Net, TV, radio and dwelt on some sci-fi stuff as after-hours entertainment, leaving the real world behind simmering in its own juices. assiduous avoidment. I had little choice: too busy with work and the new office computer was being sorted out. I felt great after the purge of my system, but deprived. I rapidly became a spectator and not a willing participant.

Early Arrival.
Who knew that the warm weather would arrive so early or stay for a fortnight? 85F (last weekend) and half of this week in late March? Seeing people in shorts and t-shirts was strange; we're at least 25 days away from last frost in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Hundreds of people came out of the proverbial woodwork to see what we were doing, what nursery stock and perennials we had, and how long the waiting list was for getting their work done. And hundreds more called for landscape meetings and estimates.
So far, only eight of 17 loads of rare, unusual and hard-to-find plant material have arrived. The '97 leftovers look great from the mild and warm Winter in storage. The few casualties will be ground up and composted for future use as soil amendment and fertilizer.
Last Wednesday I gave a talk on rare, unusual and hard-to-find alpine perennials to The Shiloh Garden Club, in Shiloh, PA. The focus was on miniature plant material, the exceptional cultural practices required and long term care. I donated two $50 gift certificates and a small alpine trough garden to the club for a raffle on their 47th birthday. About 50 ladies were in attendance. I was a big hit and so were the plants.

Dell 333.
The new Dell 586 Pentium Pro II 333 is as slick as whaleshit. Uh, maybe not that slick. It took the better part of 4 days to migrate all the software and data over, and re-install dozens of apps, but it was worth it. Computing is fun again. Now it's endless tweaking for preferences and options in every app.
The once-state-of-the-art Duracom P150 I use at home is painfully slow, compared to a 333. But it's reliable and will make do until I can get a 400 or 450 later this year, and then move the 300 home to play with.

Landscape Landslide.
It's due to the unusually early, warm weather we're experiencing in the Mid-Atlantic region, I'm sure. What else could explain so many people calling and coming in to get on our schedule for work this year.
In past years, the work has really started in February and March, and greatly intensified thereafter. Now, it's starting 3-4 months earlier; in the preceding October and November. I'm pleased that our reputation for innovative and high quality work has spread so far and wide.
Each brings more tractor trailers into the 20 acre complex; rare, unusual and hard-to-find plant material have become so commonplace that I'm almost bored with it all. It takes an awesome specimen to get my attention anymore. I mainly deal with specialized nurserys in Oregon and New Jersey, both states in the same Hardiness Zone as we: 6B. They produce some very fine plant material and it's definitely worth buying in specimen-grade material.

Tornado Alert.
On Wednesday evening at 8pm, The Weather Channel posted a severe storm warning and tornado alter for the immediate local area, as well as the area around the Garden Center. Seems the El shit-For-Brains was in the area and wanted to f*ck up everyone's evening.
After seeing the weather.com report with severe weather cells descending upon my business, I hopped in the Jeep and headed south to Winterstown. What for, I had no idea. I heard on the local radio weather alert that the actual funnel clouds were sighted about 11 clicks south of my place.
Damage report on Thursday was minimal. Lots of forest trees turned into kindling. And an old, dilapidated barn was wasted too. Nothing compared to last week's Florida disaster.

Employment Woes.
In my past eight years of being in business, the pool for employees both full time and seasonal has always been deep. Because of the very strong economy and low unemployment last year and so far this year, it's grim.
usually, I receive between 100-200 applications for Spring work, so there is a reservoir of talent to choose from. This Spring, I've received less than 10 applications. As a result, I'll have one large (5-6) landscape crew instead of two medium (3-4) crews in the field. This will slow things down considerably. But the high quality work will not be compromised; we'll simply get fewer jobs done this season.

Still Here.
Dr. Fun, the first cartoon on the Web in '93, is still on the Web.

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