When I moved to Minneapolis in late summer of 1986, I rented a third floor apartment that had a nice little balcony. The following spring, I decided to see if I could grow a plant or two out there.
Before I knew it, my plant or two had evolved into a gorgeous little garden complete with an old wooden ladder-turned-plant-stand and a bentwood trellis from Smith & Hawken. There were vines, pots of daisies and begonias.
At the time, none of my neighbors were balcony gardeners. When I left a dozen years later, balcony gardens were in bloom throughout the complex.
Gardening is contagious apparently and, oh, how I’ve missed it.
After my sabbatical in 1999, I returned to Minneapolis and moved into a wonderful apartment that, sadly, was without any outdoor space. I made do with houseplants.
When I relocated to Las Vegas, I didn’t even attempt outdoor gardening although I heard rumors that it was possible.
I wasn’t always enthusiastic about growing things. I’d half heartedly planted a vegetable garden one year and vowed it would be my last. Weeds took over as I avoided spending time in what I came to think of as a mosquito habitat.
Eventually, I caught the gardening bug from my friend Chris Utterback and she caught the entrepreneurial bug from me. It was a fine trade.
When we met, Chris was new to self-employment. Her passion for gardening had led her there.
An enthusiastic herb gardener, Chris had her first foray into business thanks to a bumper crop of tarragon. She harvested the herb, arranged bundles of it in a wicker basket and called on chefs at all the French restaurants in Denver.
Not only did she sell out, her new customers begged for more. Chris was hooked.
The more she learned about growing things and growing a business, the richer her world became. She went on to publish Herban Lifestyles newsletter for several years. That led her to connect with many other passionate gardening entrepreneurs.
As I’ve been tending my new balcony garden, my first in a dozen years, I keep thinking about how many things that happen in the plant world are mirrored in the business world.
In Paul Hawken’s marvelous book, Growing a Business, he points this out repeatedly. He says, “Ideally, every business student should study biology, the science of life and therefore change. At the heart of the business enterprise is the implementation of true and lasting change, creating the real out of the potential.”
This month I’m going to be sharing lessons from the garden. My little startup blooms are wise and patient teachers and I can’t wait to pass along the things they’re showing me every day that can also help us grow luscious businesses.
What are you growing this summer? Learned anything from your plants?