As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Morning Glories

Painting by Kathy Payson

Painting by Kathy Payson

I’m crazy about Morning Glories (the plant, not the firework).  I’ve been trawling the local garden centers, eagerly awaiting their appearance among the colorful sea of annuals.  But one Boston garden center employee told me, “Oh they won’t be here until about Memorial Day.  They’re so tender, they don’t even like a breeze.”

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I found a small grouping of Morning Glory flats under cover, in a previously-undiscovered nursery called The Greenhouse, near my cabin in Maine.  I asked the owner if any were my favorite color, “Heavenly Blue”.  She said,

Alas, someone planted these without fully understanding the need for labels.  I have no idea what color they are, so I can’t in good conscience sell them to you.  Buy if you buy a pack of seeds from that rack over there, you’ll be all set.

Doh!  Of course.  I’ve been out of the seed-growing thing since my boys got too sophisticated for mom’s science lessons.  But of course.  If I scatter these seeds, they will be as big as the ones in the nursery in a week or two.

But here is my point, I had to meet that nursery owner to remember the obvious.  Everything starts with a seed.  Similarly, when I was buying some geraniums, that same nursery owner said, “The geraniums are really big this year.”   I asked why (thinking they came from great growing conditions in some far-away place like Chile).  She responded with a laugh,

Because I’m a great grower, that’s why!

I guess because her plants come with standard plastic “care and planting-conditions” labels, and her seeds are grown in ordinary manufactured flats, I just assumed they came from “somewhere else.”  Despite the acres of greenhouses on her property, it was outside my imagination’s scope to see the obvious.  I lumped her in with the sadly neglected plants I saw at Home Depot two weeks ago.

No these plants are grown here.  This is the real deal.  I’m on a quest for real.  Alice Waters.  Hand-written receipts.  I guess it’s the antidote to too many hours spent in front of a computer.  But I think that particular quest is way bigger than me.  It’s why Etsy thrives, deliciously using modern technology to take creators and customers back to a hand-crafted world.  People love being connected to the producers of the handcrafts Etsy sells.  We seek those connections in more and more of our life experiences.  It’s part of the human condition–everywhere.  But especially needed in modern, First World places.  Places where we have too much information.  Too much choice.  Not enough that is simple, real and human-scale.  I’ll think of that as I watch my packet of Morning Glory seeds turn into a veritable climbing riot.

$2.  My hands.  Ten minutes of labor.  A little rain and sun.  And such joy.

Update:  August 6, 2009

They’re climbing the railing of the Daily Grommet front porch, and they started blooming last week.   The foliage is really wimpy.  Bad soil?  Not enough sun this summer?  Anyway the flowers themselves are glorious and make me happy every, well, morning.


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