Updated: Jul 9
So here we are, the owner's of an outdoor event venue. I would have never thought this is where I would end up in my work career. When you look back on the jobs you've had over time, have you ended up where you had hoped? Even though it's been more than 4 decades for me, the time seems to have gone by quickly. Maybe not so much at that moment in time, but never-the-less, it did. I'm pretty sure that's an indication that I enjoyed what I was doing, whatever it was. I've heard it said that you should do what you love. Seems like pretty sound advice. But then I've heard artists, or very skilled craftsmen say that when they started doing what they loved in order to make money, it changed everything for them and turned what they loved into something that sometimes turned their passion into the mundane, or even a compromise. The very serious task of making a living, it's seems somehow wrong that it dictates so much of our thought process and time.
Thinking back, it's a little surprising to me to think that I never had to look for a job for long, being that I dropped out of high school during my junior year. I have always been pursued. Seems crazy doesn't it? All of my first jobs were office jobs. A friend owned a wholesale plumbing supply and they asked if I could type. I could, and I was good at it in school. One of the fastest and most accurate. So that got me in. From there I was recruited to a huge health insurance company because of my typing speed. The department was graded on the quantity of documents that were input per day. From there I was recruited to a national trucking company where the employees were either salary or Teamster union members. I went in, was given a typing and 10-key test, broke the records, and was bumped in front of what I was told a couple of hundred people on a waiting list to be hired. There was an uproar amongst the Teamster members, since I was hired by a salaried supervisor. The pay was great, that is when we weren't on lay off. It seemed we were on lay off more than we actually worked. To fill in the gaps, my dad asked me if I wanted to work with my brother-in-law doing landscape construction. That was over 40 years ago. I've truly loved working landscape construction ever since. It's very hard work in what can be at times very unpleasant conditions.
During those 40 years I've experienced a sort of progressive approach to what and how I design and the implementation of it. When I worked for my dad and brother-in-law, we stuck to landscape basics.. We installed pretty basic landscape features and didn't venture into much of anything else. I would get a bit frustrated because my dad would have plant and tree stock that we would load literally as much as could fit into a large flatbed truck. We'd grab this and that and there really wasn't any plan. Then we would unload it at a job and move things around it seemed dozens of times until it looked good. So time consuming and so much work! Whatever was left over had to be loaded back onto the truck, taken back to dad's property, unloaded, heeled in, and watered. This process just didn't make sense to me. I would ask my dad why we didn't do a scaled plan first to save us work. He said that doing a drawing would take too make time. I thought to myself, 'and loading and unloading trees and plants doesn't take too much time'? I kind of think he just didn't want to do it for some reason. After awhile, my dad told me that I knew enough to start my own crew. I'd get left on the job a lot while they ran errands and the customer would come out and ask me questions. I was always happy to give them my opinion. So dad helped me build a little tool trailer out of plywood, and I started off on my own. That was in 1984. I was 26 years old. Someone told my dad that I would 'fall flat on my face'. Well that only motivated me. I drew up plans with a drafting table and a nice drafting arm. I'd spend hours doing this. I get blueprints made up and present them to the customer. I had no trouble getting jobs. I don't really have any sales experience, but what I did with the customers is tell them what I would do if it were a house and yard that I had to live with. I have to know what the customers life style is. Looked around to see what their style was inside the house. Did they have kids, a dog? Did they travel or entertain a lot? Access to their back yard, exposure to the sun, privacy from neighbors. So many variables. Then I would listen to what they wanted from their landscape and how they intended to use it. Only after I knew all of this would I start to design something that was unique to their situation. More often than not, I discovered that people didn't know exactly what they wanted in a design but they knew how they wanted to feel about it when it was complete. Most were looking for help.
Meanwhile, my best friend and roommate Rita joined forces with me in the landscape construction business. As the years went by I decided to try new things. We ventured into things my family would always sub-contract out. Rita was always apprehensive about doing something we've never done before. I'm afraid I've caused Rita a lot of stress with my drive to try something new. One learned skill leads to another and another. The thing is this. I love to learn. I have a desire to try to do things myself. If I don't know how, I'll research it until I feel like I have enough information to try it. I get what I need, and then I pull the trigger. I know I'll probably fail the first few attempts, but those failures are still progress in that you know what not to do next time. So the point is that these endeavors of trying new skills lead us to constructing a tangible part of our customer's life that brought them visual and useful beauty and joy. Waterfalls that brought soothing sight and sound to a homeowner as they sat on their carefully designed deck or patio surrounded by trees and plants that would grow into their own personal slice of progressive nature. We've heard several times, 'you could have a wedding back here'. So very nice to hear. Once we started getting up in years and realized that we couldn't do this hard physical work forever, those words got us to thinking. Why don't we do our best work and make it something that people could rent for their special event? It's a very long story how it went from an idea, to the drawing board, to a reality. But at end, we have an outdoor event venue that features the things we love to do. This isn't just any event venue. This is the result of a process and passion that has taken over 40 years to acquire. The meaning of this space and the experience that our customers and friends have in it go deep to the core of what we should value in people and their happiness as well as our own. We want this space to be something to transport you away from the care of the day with your dearest friends and family. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Hopefully, if you haven't already done so, you'll have a chance to spend some time at the Garden. We built it for you.