A day in the life of a gardener

Carla Bowyer

I found myself in a bizarre situation…I was standing in Auckland City, fully equipped with very different work attire than what I was used to. I swapped the high heels for a much comfier option. Today, I was sporting a hi viz jacket, with a vest underneath, safety boots, ear muffs, goggles and gloves. I had taken on the role of one of my temps for a day! As I gazed around, taking in Auckland in all its beauty, I realised this was my office for the day.

This beautiful garden with burnt orange colours mixed with crunchy green leaves lay on the soft ground, accompanied by wands of bark; it was like something from a fairy tale. The smell of a new season I embarked on. How lucky was I? It was a cold morning, with outbursts of rain but the rain did not dampen my spirit.

I looked around me and spotted a few on-goers in their professional work attire and I thought maybe they hadn’t noticed me. I started to think when I was in their shoes – did I notice the work others did around me? Then I thought, some days I had been too busy to stop and thank people or even say a quick hello. As I worked throughout the day, I stripped off a layer because I was working up a sweat, even though the outbursts of rain were not sporadic, it was raining quite heavily by 9am and I had been on site from 6am.

I picked up different tools and saw a man approaching me, he looked as if he wanted to speak to me, so I smiled and he said, ‘You are doing a great job, keep up the good work!’ I felt so proud to hear someone from the public appreciate the hard work and efforts that go into the daily management of tasks that many people take for granted. It made me think about when I had been a passer-by. Had I noticed these gardens? I found it a dream to hear the co-worker I was working with refer to them as ‘his gardens.’ He took so much pride in his work. I never actually knew the work that went into maintaining the gardens, it made me realise it is important to take a step back and appreciate the work others do for us.

I worked alongside a previous temp who was made permanent because of his work ethic. For me it was a great experience to get my hands dirty and assist him with tending to ‘his gardens.’ He had various gardens he looked after in Auckland City, these gardens were different shapes and sizes – some needed more work than others. It was a great exercise for me and actually made me think twice about the gym class I had booked into after my day in the life of a gardener.

I recruit roles which make Auckland tick. I wanted to show my co-worker, I was there not to inspect his work, but to help him. I wanted our time to be enjoyable and for him to know that I genuinely wanted to have a day his life. I wanted the temps who worked for us at Madison to see me as one of them, and for the experience to help me recruit the right people for the role. I wanted to answer a candidate when they asked, ‘So what is the job like?’  I couldn’t wait to say…  ‘Well I’ve actually done that specific role…’ This would help me talk to each candidate on a personal level and tell them different obstacles they would come up against and ask them how they would manage these to enable their success in the role.

I was cold and wet, but most importantly I was happy. I had done something to not only benefit my recruiting, but to show I would go above and beyond what is expected to get the right information to recruit the best people for the roles.

The day was pretty tiring and I had a new appreciation of the hard work that went into maintaining Auckland, the little things we take for granted on our streets and gardens, are the little things that make Auckland tick and without them we wouldn’t have such a beautiful city. As I drove back to my Madison office, the rain was pelting on the front window screen and a song came on the radio… (which went a little like this) ‘I got that sunshine in my pocket and I got that good soil in my feet.’ Quite ironic since it was raining all day, but I did have the good soil in my boots from the gardening and although it was cold and wet, I was smiling and felt I had accomplished what I set out to achieve, which was to gain more understanding of the roles I was recruiting.

I arrived in our office with little speckles of muck on my face, and my trousers and boots that were so glossy prior to starting, had now changed to a matte. For me, it was a great day, it was beneficial and helped me understand the key aspects of gardening, which would help me recruit the right people… so, if all else fails in the world of recruiting, you’ll see me in my hi viz, fully equipped with tools to take on the world of gardening – pruning, planting, weeding – you name it! #watchthisspace