Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Overwhelmed Gardener. Part 2 Florabundance

Another weekend plant sale, this time I'm actually vending. It's the night before and here I am making last minute signs and labels for this weekend's Florabundance Spring Plant Sale.

I don't know if it was the high of last weekend's Hardy Plant Society of Oregon sale and the visit to Cistus and all, but I'm not all that looking forward to this sale. I'm not sure if it's the 60/40 split that's really bugging me or my limited palette of plant material to offer; perhaps it's both.

Florabundance has always held a special place in my heart as it was the first plant sale I ever took part in and I've known some of the vendors for many many years. Many have really seen me grow up at this plant sale and over the years, many have looked forward to my unique selections of plants. I guess I feel like I wasn't able to reach the standard I set for myself having visited many nurseries. The quality of my plant material should be much better!

In this tough economic climate, I guess the 60/40 split (60% to the vendors and 40% to the Arboretum Foundation) has really gotten to me. When I first started, it was a fairly reasonable 70/30, but now it seems like all the hard work in propagating and growing on these plants is essentially a huge donation of my time every time I take part in a plant sale here in the Puget Sound area. While I fully support these organizations and truly glad that the funds go towards programs and causes I care about, I'm losing money and not really progressing or moving forward with my life and business as I'm not really able to save up and allocate funds towards travel, for example, or a collecting expedition abroad. Heck, I don't really have any funds to even think about pursuing an advanced degree like I always say I'll do, but haven't really made a serious effort to either take a class or check out schools and programs I might be interested in enrolling.

Instead, I'm struggling to make sure I find work and keep a small nursery alive in the hopes that things I grow and produce are sold. I know I haven't been the best businessman and I've relied on these plant sales to get me out there, but I've come to realize that I really can't continue this.

Something has to change. As much as I love this plant sale, the wonderful people I get to see, and the great assortment of plants we offer to the public, it's getting harder and harder each year.



  1. Riz, it is the same in Australia,people are spending money on food before plants so it is really tough to keep a small nursery going. I empathize completely. Hope the sale went well.
    cheers Ian

  2. I wouldn't be very pleased with a 60/40 split either, that's breaking even at best. You should ask the other vendors if they feel the same way, and complain to whomever is in charge there...

    Have you considered importing from Shikoku? Judging from the price that double Trillium was selling for it sounds pretty profitable.

  3. Hi Riz - Lovely to meet you today, and I'm sorry to hear that the sale is not a good money-maker for vendors. Maybe it's partly a PR thing, I guess, to get your name in people's brains and hope that they will keep coming back as repeat customers via your nursery or design business? I know it's a hard time to be in any retail sales, for sure! We all need a patron, don't we... Well, I for one always seem to buy more at the vendor tables where the grower is actually there and chatting about the plants. I'm sure it's exhausting, but we patrons can see the love and time that you guys put into growing these beloved beauties and I always remember, after things are planted, if I had a nice convo with the person who sold it to me. See, after you left, I scooped up a pulmonaria, an erythronium, a geranium and the little sedum at your bargain table! :) Cheers - Karen