This is a plant that wants cultivating in a good many smaller establishments, and its introduction into some large ones would not be amiss.
I think it is a great advantage to a gardener when he has been educated where neatness and cleanliness were strictly enforced, even if it was in a private garden. The worst cases of disorder we see are where men have left the shoemaker's bench or the machine shop or the office, and we have even known where they have left the pulpit for the pulpit's good and made horribly bad florists. When a young man is wavering betwen the church and the greenhouse always take the church. There is less dirt and more spirituality about the church, and you would not be always thinking about what you might have boon as you would if you had become a florist, while looking for your salary in the church will always prevent your pining after the greenhouse.
I must admit though that there arc instances in this country of young men, total strangers to the business, who have entered it and made a marked success of it, setting us all a bright example by their systematic management and orderly and business-like methods. Their places are models of neatness. But they are the great exception and those I refer to are bright, intelligent men whom nature blessed with brains, and they would shine in any business.
If order is the first law of nature, it ought most assuredly to be carried into the greenhouse, for ours are most perishable goods and disorder is not only unsightly but a great pecuniary loss. These remarks are not intended for the bright, well trained greenhouse man, for he knows the value of order and system, but there are hundreds who keep their places in a dirty muddle from one year's end to the other. I have no patience with the man who lets his place get fearfully untidy and dirty and then has a grand clean up. People will form an impression of your place as they usually see it and perhaps won't see it just after you have had the great house cleaning.
Untidiness is not accident or press of business, it is pure carelessness. Fifty dead or cut down plants standing on the edge of the path are too many for you to carry back to the shed at one time, but if the workman who put the first one or half dozen there had carried them back and dumped them and put the pots away there would have been none there. Untidiness does not arise from want of time, not in the least; it is solely the habit of not putting things in their right places at the right time. Some men don't know the difference between a heap of old soil that is sure to come in handy for some purpose and a heap composed of broken glass, wood, old plants and dead cats. It's all alike to them, and is thrown out with the indifference that you see the refuse of the tenement house go out of the back window.
How much time is lost in the mislaying of tools, or worse still, loaning them! Neither borrow nor loan tools unless it be something like a steam roller, that you are not warranted in buying. Borrow nor loan no tools. They are far worse in the country at borrowing than in the cities; and they don't say, "Could I have the loan of your post auger?" but "I come up for that post auger I saw you use t'other day." Another sample of waste of time is when Jack says, " Where's the monkey wrench, Bill ?" Bill says, " I guess you '11 find it in the stoke hole. Bob was fixin' the boiler yesterday." And so it goes.
Keep your tools where they belong. Keep your flats piled up neatly. Let your sashes be in use or properly stood up against a wall or fence. Let your compost piles be neat and in order. Have a proper place for your watering cans. And above all have your pots always in their sizes in neat rows, not under a bench in many different sizes, all mixed up. Some men like to buy pots before they have half used up what they already have.
Here is a sample where disorder comes in. The driver from a store or the delivery man brings home an azalea out of bloom and two or three other flowering plants that are past, or perhaps a flat half full of geraniums that were not used at the flower-gardening job. He jumps off the wagon, throws the flat and its contents on the ground by the shed wall, and then asks for another job. The next man that wants a flat in a hurry throws out the plants and runs off on his errand. A pot or two are broken, or the plants are run over, all because the driver did not take a minute's time to dump the useless plant and put the others in the shed where they would be attended to. All that may be a trifle, but a lot of such performances create great confusion. You can do your work quicker, better and feel more comfortable and happy all around when things are in order. And, depend upon it, orderly places are the prosperous ones.
A New York Store at Christmas.
A New York Store at Christmas.
The Salesroom of a Well Appointed Store Photographed at Easter.
In the greenhouse among the plants there is still more need of system and order. The old-fashioned way of years ago of having a bench all mixed up with fifty species of plants, like a fourth-class botanic garden, is played out. We knew greenhouses, some not so long ago, that always looked alike the year round. A cactus and sanchezia and Begonia Rex and Hoya carnosa were beautifully (?) arranged. A show house is all right, where a few of the brightest and best of all you have should be shown off, and that should be changed as often as possible. Let your show house undergo a transformation scene very frequently, as your store window does daily.
In other houses everything should be in blocks. They are better cared for in every way and look better; it is the only way. Stand over your plants frequently, small, fast growing plants especially, and it is much easier to throw your leaves and rubbish into a bushel basket than it is to throw them on the path and then have to sweep them up.
We frequently have hot words in the spring with the men when picking out plants or filling orders. If a hundred geraniums are wanted of one kind take them as they come. If two or three are not quite good enough or not in flower don't leave them standing out alone to dry out; bunch them up with the lot. Your precious time will not be missed, for it will only take a second and will be better for the plants, better in appearance, and much better for the man who waters. And so with all your plants.
Stand all rows of plants straight across the bench, and never crowd for want of room, nor spread them out for appearance's sake. There is a right distance for the plants and they should have it, neither more nor less.
I cannot mention all the details of running a greenhouse, but do let it be clean, neat, and orderly, and it will cover many other deficiencies. Never scruple or sigh at having to throw away any plants that you see there is no sale for. If you made a mistake the quickest way to recover is to out with them. The ability to discard useless stock is only second to the ability to grow good plants.
Having everything in at the right time it is wanted is one of the greatest accomplishments of a good florist, and next is having your stock well balanced, not propagating or growing twice as much of any article as you can dispose of. You have your past experience to guide you and should know the probable demand for the next season. You can't grow everything and what you don't succeed with, buy if you must have it. The man who tries to grow everything he is asked for will never succeed.
You must never be bothered with the best meaning people who bring you seeds or plants for you to grow because they are curiosities; Gen. Candbeef sent the seeds to her from Cuba, or Lieut. Floater brought them from Manila. The plants of the whole world are pretty well known now and they will be nothing desirable for you. Tell the kind persons that you are afraid they would not get attention among your men, who only have a knowledge of common commercial plants, but you are sure Mr. Private Gardener, your neighbor, or the Botanic Gardens would be delighted with them.
Division of labor is a great thing. The operations in a greenhouse are very diverse. Put men at what they can do well and quickly. And there is no labor, either in potting, watering, tying or setting over plants, but what should be done quickly and with a rush. When men get accustomed to work quickly at these light jobs it is no effort to keep it up, and it must be done quickly or it won't pay. When you set a man to turn over fifty loads of earth don't expect big shovels and quick work all the time. Have mercy; you shoveled once yourself and may again.
The Workroom of a Well Appointed Store.