Thursday, December 2, 2010

Going to Carolina In My Mind

My first real job (by real, I mean I had made the leap from hourly to salaried) was at Carolina Nurseries in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. I loved it.

I was 24 and new to the Lowcountry. Just a month before, I had finished by master's degree at the University of Georgia and I was long overdue to get my hands in the dirt. It was the hardest work I have ever done and I learned how to drive tractors, fix irrigation pipe and manage the most unruly group of employees that you could imagine.

I worked so hard that between September and Christmas, I lost a noticeable amount of weight and when I returned home for the holidays my dad accused me of having developed an eating disorder. My pudgy grad student body had turned into a lean farmer's physique (oh, to have it now!).

In sadness, I went back to the place that sprouted my career on their last day of operation. I wasn't going to go but the pull of that 700-acre farm was too great and I made the 45-minute drive from James Island to "The Monkey" one last time.

I thought I'd share some memories from my time at the farm. They were the most carefree of my life and I don't know if I've ever laughed and enjoyed myself more.

Scouting Plants.

Jimmy Altman with his prized Hydrangeas.

Perfection, in plants.

Me, driving the biggest tractor on the farm. That's right.

Gorgeous 'Twice as Nice' Daylilies.

My BFF Mindy in her "office" doing paperwork

I'm good at growing plants now because of what I learned then. Graduate school was good, but it wasn't practical. It took three years of dust-covered sweat to understand how to grow all different types of plants. I have much to learn, but my education started at Carolina.

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