f a n t a s y l a n d:

Friday, May 16, 1997








































it always comes as a surprise when a beautiful young woman whom I've admired from afar suddenly pays an inordinate amount of attention to me. It happened all the time when I was younger, but now that I have some miles on this chassis, it's a most flattering fantasy. Always remember: it's not the years, it's the miles.

Being married to this business is a full time job; it seldom leaves room for other long-term, serious relationships. Been there, did them. My Garden Center & Nursery is a very demanding, but enjoyable mistress, with it's very own set of requirements.

I am constantly amazed at the diversity of hidden plants on many of the visits I make to private residences in southern York County and northern Maryland. One of a kind things. Specimens. Old fashioned plants. Long since extinct cultivars and species. Real gems amongst the common junk.

Most people don't know what they have, so I carefully explain the plant(s)' background and significance. Then, they understand. A few are ambivalent about it all anyway, since it's looks like just another green plant. The vast majority open their eyes to a new horticultural experience. I always manage to either get cuttings, seed, a root division or a dug plant to bring back, in trade for something they want from my facility. Horticultural treasures must be preserved and propagated so as not to become extinct. Gardeners are horesetraders incarnate. Swapping plants is commonplace; I enjoy finding treasures and trading exquisite plants with other collectors.

That's the real reason I got into this business: collecting and sharing rare, unusual and hard-to-find plants with others. I've horse traded some rarities in the past eight years and have propagated them via other collectors throughout the US. I feel good when another collector with whom I've exchanged plants finds my Web site, sends some mail and tells me how things are going.

Hardy Cacti.
Our first loads of hardy cacti and succulents came out of Greenhouse #4 this week and are ready for purchasing. I worked to clean them up from the destructively mild Winter, price and display them outside Greenhouse #2. Several specimens will be interred in our Cactus Display Garden in the coming days.

I'm also waiting for a shipment of choice cacti and succulents from a New Mexico vendor; I was notified on Friday that the shipment was coming 2nd Day Air UPS. I can't wait. It's like Christmas morning when I was a kid: new stuff to (carefully) play with.

Local interest in these wondrous plants has increased manifold since I've advertised their availability both in the local papers and on the Website's Hardy Cactus Pages. I'm still learning about their pecularities and receive dozens of inquiries daily from around the world about their care and other cultural information, which I carefully research and answer. It's all part of the learning experience Since we don't do mail order, all orders must be picked up at the Garden Center & Nursery.

The shipment just arrived: 30 small, choice collector's cacti in a small box, individually wrapped and labelled. I prepared the potting medium an innocuous mixture of sand, gravel and grit in 3.5" square pots to receive the baby cacti and succulents. Handling them was a bit tricky. Surgical tongs made all the difference between minor injuries and a fun time. I'll get some photos put up soon.

Because they came in bareroot, they'll need to stay in a warm greenhouse until they re-grow a root system and can live on their own. They'll also Winter over in an unheated greenhouse with the nursery stock until next Spring, when they'll be ready for sale.

Busy Weekend.
Mother's Day is always the traditional start to the gardening season, since the danger of frost has almost certainly passed. Yet we had frost just last Friday morning at the Garden Center & Nursery. Hopefully, that's the end of it until Winter sets in again.

Since Saturday, hundreds of people have poured through looking for that special Mom's Day gift; more often than not a pink dogwood, azalea, cherry or something in bloom.

I had a full staff in this weekend, yet it was so busy I had to drop the landscape design work and accompanying estimates I was trying to concentrate on and lend a hand. Many people still ask for me when they come in; I'm trying to wean them from that practice since my staff is emminently capable of handling most situations. Otherwise I spend inordinate amounts of precious time helping someone select a geranium. Not a good use of my time at all. The larger picture is what needs my attention; trivia and minutiae are better relegated to others with the patience to handle them.

After several on-site landscape evaluation meetings in the morning, I helped out where I could and then slumped down in the office chair for a short nap. It didn't last long: the phone rang incessantly all day and I had to answer it.

I can handle the calls with immediate answers and action, rather than have someone take messages that require callbacks, wasting even more time. In business, time is money; things must be accomplished in the most propitious manner possible.

InterNet Visitors.
It seems as though 1 of 3 people coming through this weekend has an InterNet connection, and 95% of them have been to my Website. That's all the Front Counter people hear about, besides the usual raves about the quality of plant material we sell.

I'm usually out helping others, so I hardly get to hear the conversations, but I did overhear a few this time. Seems people bring the kids along, who've seen Pickles on the Website, and they want to see him up close and personal. So I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for him, wherever he's sleeping/hiding. I don't try too hard to find him, since he needs his day-sleep; at night, he's on duty all night making the 20 acre complex safe from mice, groundhogs, birds, snakes and other cats.

New Color Printer.
I installed a new four color HP 690c DeskJet Printer on Friday that replaced my older Okidata 400e Laser unit. The Oki went to the Front Counter for use with billing and correspondence, replacing a antique (1996) dot matrix unit. Little did I know that gremlins were installed in the new DeskJet with the software.

Printing error. Damned messages all over the place, every time I try to use it. So I reloaded the software. Five times. Uninstalled the hardware and reinstalled it all.

Won't print spreadsheets. It tells me that it doesn't like MS-Works or MS-Excel and won't cooperate with either. Since I do estimates and billing in both, a compatible printer is a necessity.

Restart Windows. And try it all again. Okay, I did. Many times and it didn't help. Shouldn't have to. This is nuts. I emailed HP about the glitches, but will have to wait until a human reads it next week. Apparently, they get weekends off, just when so many problems like this occur.

Plug & pray. I did shut it down and went out to help customers, thinking that it would repair itself while in the off position. Oh, it worked fine when I turned it back on, but immediately it started acting like a cantankerous prima donna again. shit.

I'll visit HPs site and download a new set of software and drivers later today. Maybe the original set was corrupted. Or maybe it just doesn't work with Win95. Or maybe... f*ck it, enough is enough; so much for plug and pray.

A Pass For Clinton.
It's a fairly quiet time in Washington: the Cherry Blossom Festival has concluded, Congressional Committees are gearing up for ethics and campaign investigations this summer, and Clinton has managed to avoid the pungent headlines of criminality. All's well? Don't bet on it.

In a defiant manner typical of the sleazy liberal scum, Clintonites have filed an appeal to The Supreme Court to block White Independent Counsel Ken Starr's demand to turn over document and conversation transcripts of Hillarious and her lowlife lawyers, some of whom are government employees and not entitled to client-attorney privilege. Legally and this is what the White House blocking tactic is really meant to do the test will be meaningless and will simply delay their handing over thousands of pages of Clinton lies and evasions to Starr. She's a congenital liar bitch; central to and culpable in the so-called Whitewater scandal probe. She'll look very smart in prison blues.

Never before have so few (Clinton scumbags) lied to so many (US citizens) to cover up the crimes of so few (more Clinton lowlifes) for so long (since 1994). It's a true shame that Clinton and his nasty tempered co-president have disgraced The Presidency with their immoral and unethical values; both should have been jailed many years ago for their crimes. The other criminal, John Huang will almost certainly do some time for his fundraising and possibly espionage crimes. The prison boys will love him dearly.

The Summer will be interesting, indeed. I look forward with relish to the daily and weekly headlines of uncovered criminality and complicity by the liberal Clinton filth. But the question begs an answer: why are so many Americans still ambivalent to Clinton's crimes?

It does catch up soon enough: sleep deprivation and too much work. Getting up at 4am to work on customer's landscape estimate spreadsheets with the home Pentium 586/166mhz-64ram, after working until 11pm the night before, seven days a week, takes its toll. I always take work along home on my Zip Drive to finish up what I can. Evenings at the Office are busy and won't settle down for a while yet. Meanwhile, the business must go on.

Gulping down some Starbuck's Coffee helps. So does cold water on the face. I should be used to this after seven years now, but it takes a while each season to re-acclimate myself to it.

I think I need to get out for an evening or two each week to break this routine; perhaps for dinner and drinks somewhere that I don't have to worry about the homework. Great food, fine wine and good company is what the doctor prescribes, every time. Yep.

Day Trip.
I'm actually taking a day off; well, sort of. I'm visiting one of the wholesale speciality nurserys that we buy unusual nursery stock from. They're in southern New Jersery. The broker we buy through and I will make a day of it, using my large box truck; I'll bring back some needed stock, plus some specimens that I covet for my Display Gardens.

The first truck I bought for the business is a 17ft ex-Ryder Box truck (nay Tim McVeigh model), painted white and hand-letterd with my logo and other important information on the giant sides. It made an immediate impact in the York, PA, area: everyone immediately recognized the vehicle; no other nursery had anything like it. (I like to be first.) It had 60k on it in 1990; now it's well over 110k and still running strong. I have a sentimental attachment to it.

We headed for Blue Sterling Nursery (wholesale only, sorry), in Bridgeton, NJ, at 7am. We forgot that the I-695 Beltway around Baltimore is a large parking lot at this time of day, similar to the LIE (Long Island Expressway) in NYC at all times. After clearing that mess, it was smooth sailing down I-95 and into south Jersey. Bridgeton is one of those rural areas that few people pass through, but is loaded with high-quality wholesale nurserys selling to high-quality retail nurserys all over the East Coast. We've been a customer for five years now.

I slept most of the way, seat-belted in while Tim Witman of Witman associates Nursery Brokers drove. I needed the rest. Although I'd tried to get some quality sleep the night before, I worked on two rather complicated estimates , and didn't see la-la land until nearly 1:30am. My usual time of greeting the day 4am came way too early this morning. The cats woke me up right on time; they needed food. Yeah, like they're starving or something: they're the two best-fed cats in the northern hemisphere, next to Pickles.

Meanwhile, we arrived on a beautiful, sunny morning in southern New Jersey. It has been quite a while since I had the opportunity to see this part of the state with the rural, rolling farmlands. The owner of Blue Sterling Nursery, Jim Smith, and his brother, George, met us, gave a 3 hour tour of the greenhouses, display gardens, and production facilities. We had lunch with Jim and his lovely wife, Barb, and I chose dozens of rare, unusual and hard-to-find specimens to bring back to my gardens. We loaded the truck and started home. I'm looking forward to planting them for all to see and marvel at. I'll get some photos put up soon.

Kid's Journalism.
Try reading this.

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