A couple of summers ago, I took a job working at my favorite local Garden Center. As a Nursery School teacher I have the option of teaching summer camp, but decided I wanted a break from kids. This will be my third season tending flowers instead of four-year-olds.
My 'summer gig' starts in April. Here in Chicago tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and ranunculus are the required antidote to long grey winters, and they can't come too early for color-starved gardeners. This means that during April and May I work weekends while still teaching all week. Although it's physically exhausting, it's also invigorating.
Working in the garden center, I am surrounded by beautiful blooms and wonderful fragrances. While I can't afford to plant a field of ranunculus for their short bloom season, I can gaze adoringly at their lovely heads while working, and greedily sniff in the scent of hyacinth wafting through the air.
One of the things people love about this Garden Center is the abundant displays. Plants are arranged on tables in masses, and part of my job is the constant replenishing of the pots of plants on the tables from the flats underneath. I also help haul in the flats when the trucks come in, and wheel racks of flats in from the sidewalk at the end of the night. Watering and deadheading take up even more time once the summer annuals come in. Helping customers design their plantings and containers is another part of the job.
While I wouldn't give up teaching permanently, it's nice to have time off from the emotional demands of kids (and their parents.) Working with flowers can be just as messy as working with kids, but I've found that plants will never wipe snots on your sleeve or puke on your shoes. With plants you can just snip off the funky bits, and if a plant doesn't show the growth you'd expected you don't have to call a conference with its parents.