Buddy, Can You Spare A Cypripedium?



Just a few days ago, I settled into bed snugly with Fortune magazine, thinking that I’d really enjoy the Q&A with economist Paul Krugman, whose New York Times column I generally like.

Did I enjoy it?  No.  In fact, I enjoyed it so little that I couldn’t sleep afterwards, something my bedtime reading hasn’t done to me since I was in the fourth grade and reading those hair-raising Alfred Hitchcock stories under the covers with a flashlight.

What did Krugman tell me?  That house prices still have a long way to fall, that the Fed could cut interest rates to zero and it still might not nudge this economy upwards, that Japan went ten years without a recovery, and that America is in really new territory here when it comes to the sources of economic pain:

It seems to me like every few weeks there’s another $300 billion market I’ve never heard of that has just collapsed. And there’s credit cards, auto loans – I don’t know what’s next. But it’s clear we’re going to have a commercial real estate crash not too far short of the severity of the housing crash.

I thrashed about for two full hours after turning the lights off, worrying away at the important questions: whether I really needed six dwarf cherry trees at $32.95 apiece, and how on earth I was going to do without the pair of iron Monet arches I was thinking of ordering from Smith & Hawken.


  1. Try being tragically under-employed in this climate and not being hired for one job after another because I am over qualified or a white male, not sure which. Just when you think, ok time to start my own business again and pick up another client, another round of jobs to apply for appears.

    So here I sit this morning answering management style questions, hoping I will appear highly desirable.

    The saddest part of all is that I have been thoroughly enjoying my tragic under-employment and the thought that it must end soon is a bit of a bummer. I guess this is the sabbatical I always felt I deserved.

  2. Tough times here too with the second-home set (my primary clients). Ah well. Aren’t we supposed to spend our way out of this crisis the way we were to have spent our way out of the effects of 9/11?

  3. As a garden center professional we are constantly bombarded with negative news. Take your pick, the economy (growing to fast, growing to slow, not growing at all,etc.), the weather (drought, too much rain, global warming, etc.), or the competition, (Home Depot, Lowes, or Costco).

    What’s my point? Don’t let the negativity get you down! We have survived drought, torrential rain, recession, inflation, new box stores a few miles away, etc. This is nothing new. Sure their is negative news out there. We will have to make adjustments, but if we let every bit of economic news get to us we would have given up and crawled into a cave.

    When everything seems to be going too “hell in a handbag” is when opportunity knocks loudest. When everyone around you is selling is the time to buy. When everyone is being negative is the time to look into the future with hope and optimism. Time and time again those people who are optimistic in the face of challenges will be the ones who prosper. I find that being optimistic and happy attracts those types of people to our store. Be negative and you will soon be out of business.

  4. One more thing. Buy those cherry trees! Planting a tree is a act of hope.

    Skip “the pair of iron Monet arches I was thinking of ordering from Smith & Hawken.”


  5. I’m with Christopher – only I have been self-employed a long time (and love it, the rewards outstrip the fact that I’m perpetually broke). Try it, Chris, you may like it. I have been dipping my toes in the water with a potential merger offer, and I think I am about to decide I’d rather be broke. In rough economic times, Chris, come up with more than one income stream. That’s my .02

    Economically: pay off your debts as fast as you can because the hard times, they are a’coming. Not meaning to freak anyone out, but the country is overdue for a depression (in every generation there should be, on average, 2 recessions and one depression), and the longer the Fed and the gov’t stave it off, the worse it will be. Might as well bite the bullet and get through it. And hey – plants used to be free! Ask for and give cuttings. It may take more patience, but we gardeners are good at that.

  6. Trey, you made me laugh. You might be right–I can always do what I used to do, which is make tepees out of saplings and grow my pole beans up those.

  7. Although I have spent some money in the garden this year (a bareroot dwarf plum tree, bags of potting soil, some seeds), I’m coming to terms with the realization that the money isn’t there for all the plants and whatnots I might wish for. But necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I’ve decided to declare April (which happens to be National Gardening Month, by the way) a month of propagation. I’ll be spending the month trying to coax many new plants out of seeds, cuttings, and wishful thinking with little or no money. Might be productive. Will definitely be entertaining.

  8. Yep–more seeds, fewer plants; more veggies, fruits, and herbs, fewer flowers; more chickens, bees, and goats! More stay-home entertainments (like gardening, birdwatching, cooking from scratch, home brewing, cheesemaking, putting food by); more ingenuity. (I’ll bet you could make a fantastic pair of arches!) Historically, when the going gets tough, it’s the gardeners who get going. Long live the Victory Garden!

  9. See Michele, and you probably know this, these economic downturns and upturns don’t really affect Buffalo. We’re ALWAYS depressed in the same way. In fact, our housing values are right where they were. We can’t go down because we never went up. It’s comforting in a dark kind of way.

    So I’ll be spending my usual four figures on plants that won’t make it through the season and other ill-conceived expenditures.

  10. It’s times like these that make me glad I learned “old fashioned” skills from my parents. More and more friends are asking, with seriousness in their voices rather than humor, about how I do my home-canning, root cellaring, etc.

    It’s also times like these that my friends think I’m far less of a nutter than they originally thought, when it comes to my lack of using credit cards on a regular basis.

    I have summer plans to comletely refurbish the pantry and root cellar in the basement, to maximize utility. Jeremy and I both see this as an investment in our future.

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