Working at Secret Garden Growers


Last March I started working part-time at Secret Garden Growers in Canby, Oregon. In addition to my job at Cistus Nursery this has meant that I’ve been working roughly 3-4 days a week but oftentimes it wasn’t nearly that much. For me, a middle-aged woman living with some serious chronic health issues, this was not only a huge hurdle to overcome, but it has been rewarding too. I’d call it an incredible opportunity.

To cover the 12 months I’ve made a collage of monthly photos below. I’m missing tons of great plants, and for some reason I didn’t find a pic I liked of the third dog, and the eldest, Gaia. (I missed the chickens too but I don’t see them nearly as often as the ducks, dogs, and cats.)

Like Cistus Nursery,  it’s a bit of a drive from where I live, but in the opposite direction. Located in Clackamas County, it’s very near to where I grew up and I very much enjoy my drives there although like Sauvie Island, it’s not easy to find a quick lunch. I get tired of packing my food, but over the last year, I’ve worked out ways of making it all work.

At the nursery I mostly propagate. I divide things, pot things up, and sometimes I do cuttings or sow seeds. During the busy months, I’ve helped with retail and weeded plenty. Like all nursery work, it’s important for everyone to chip in when and where they can.

I enjoy propagation work and I keep a nice clean space. To me it’s the writer’s version of the possibility of a blank page, dreaming of what will grow out of it. “Making the plants” as I call it, is more about the process than any vision I have but as I work, I consider the roots, how the plants grow, what I might do with them, and how I have seen them used.

My Virgo mind likes to analyze as I work with the plants and I take mental notes.

It also likes to rock to the beat to keep things from getting too serious. That’s a nice thing about working in a greenhouse. It means alone time with tunes blaring. I use my work time to stretch, to move, to help my hip out. Over the last year, my hip has continued to slowly improve but it’s been slow progress. But it’s progress!!!

As I write this now I’m nursing another manual traction that was done on my hip by the physical therapist and I continue planning to be able to stand and contribute to my life—and the lives of others. I mean that because I know that the plants I help to make help everyone else to make their own lives and private and public spaces more beautiful and that makes me happy. I know gardening doesn’t always seem that important to everyone, but I know for a fact it’s therapeutic to many of us in many ways.

Secret Garden Growers does mail-order too so be sure to check out the current inventory. (We have a lot of gesneriads!) Pat Thompson—the nursery owner who is additionally a great source for information—will also be up in Seattle this month in the Cascade Nursery Trail booth at the NW Flower & Garden Festival. Be sure to stop in and say “Hello” to her!

(If you have any questions about any of the images below feel free to ask me below in a comment. )

9 thoughts on “Working at Secret Garden Growers

  1. I’m so glad you have these jobs to maybe pull your focus away from your health issues and keep you active (and of course to make money) I’ve considered in the past that I would enjoy a job as a propagator, much like yours. I love sticking cuttings and sowing seeds, that’s probably my favorite part of gardening. Not with tunes blaring, however, I like quiet. Maybe I’ll stop by the Cascade Nursery Trail booth at the show and see if I can interest anyone in supporting the 2021 Puget Sound Fling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it does help to distract me a bit much like the cats. I am always stressed though about my health and the changes it brings. Making life really offsets that for me. You should look around for some kind of propagation gig! You have the experience. It can be rewarding and folks wear headphones too. If folks are working around me (like at Cistus) we negotiate the noise pollution. I can’t deal with complete silence. I just hear throbbing pain. Today I was alone in the greenhouse and just cleaned seeds and listened to NPR. Yes!! Drop by the booth and have fun! I am so excited that the Fling is returning to the PNW next year. Thanks for helping with that!


  2. I love the collage of pictures Ann! I’ve been very pleased to see how these employment opportunities have provided you with friendships with both 2 and 4 legged creatures. Not a bad way to spend time.

    Liked by 1 person

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