The cold, overcast weather has hit sales. Or at least, sales turned down at the same time as the weather turned, and more than one customer has commented to me that they would have bought more, but it was too cold, or they had given up working in their garden because it was so chilly and grey. The dip in sales has unnerved the owner and the manager.
There was a small row last Monday, because some Dodecatheon that were in full flower but not fully rooted in had been put out for sale in the manager's absence. He was keeping them back until they had proper root systems. I gather that since then the owner has been putting pressure on the manager to bring as much out for sale as possible, that's in flower or looking leafy and fresh. When I arrived for work, there were two and a bit red trolleys to empty of plants, which are the multi-tier large ones we use to move stock around the plant centre, and three or four silver ones, which are the normal shopping trolleys the customers use, and will hold 18 two litre pots. You may recall my calculation that a silver trolley's worth of plants in normally damp compost weigh around 20 kilogrammes.
The manager seemed to have responded to the owner's injunction to bring it all out extremely literally. My job was to empty the red trolleys (and presumably the silver, though his long list of jobs to do over the weekend didn't mention those at all) and put the plants out for sale. Some of them were already represented in the plant centre, and the benches were pretty full so there wasn't room for them. The hardy geraniums ended up in a muddle, as I tried to find space for yet more pots, on tables that were so crammed there were no gaps to move rows up, so that I could keep everything in the right order. Some of the overs and fliers were in bloom, and the manager's list of things to do said that I might need to ask my young colleague to use them in the ornamental displays. On the basis that I've done dozens of display tables in my time, and that my young colleague was busy doing other things, I filled the gaps in the tables myself.
As well as putting out the contents of the red trolleys for sale, we were supposed to put out a fairly large delivery of David Austin roses, and some trays of plants that arrived on Friday from a van that calls weekly. Some of the roses were on order for customers, so we needed to check which and contact them. Then we were supposed to go through the viburnums and cut the dead twigs out, go through the camellias and dead-head them, tidy the bedding, tidy the trees, top up the herbs from the overflow supply stashed in one of the tunnels, and half price the bulbs. And operate the tea room, and the tills, and answer the phones. With three people. My young colleague had to box up a delivery of a hundred and twenty lavenders bound for a garden designer in Oxfordshire, which took five boxes and most of this afternoon, but that wasn't on the list.
I suppose that the manager is demonstrating the impossibility of the demands upon him, by placing impossible demands on us, but it is a pointless gesture. He needs to demonstrate them to the owner, not the staff, and the owner doesn't read the list of jobs left for us every weekend by the till. The only way she will get to know about the list is if the boss happens read the blog, and since it's a busy time of year, with the Hadleigh show today and Chelsea next week, he almost certainly won't be dipping into Cardunculus in the next few days.
I distinctly heard a cuckoo this afternoon, the first one I've been entirely sure of this year.