5 Minutes With … Devon Klingman
Devon Klingman is co-owner of Rockledge Gardens with her partner Brendan Hayes-Morrison. They celebrate one year of ownership in June.
Can you share a little bit about what you were doing before buying Rockledge Gardens last year?
My partner Brendan and I were working as merchant mariners on commercial cargo ships. We worked on general cargo, car carrier and container ships. We would live away on the ship for three to four months at a time, and then we would be home for three to four months. We liked the maritime industry because there was a great sense of purpose in being on the front lines of delivering everyday items around the world. We decided to buy Rockledge Gardens pretty serendipitously. We wanted to anchor our lives in a more sustainable and long-lasting career where we could work for ourselves.
What has surprised you about owning a garden center?
I wasn’t a gardening or horticulture expert before buying a garden center. I actually couldn’t have indoor plants or a garden because I was away from home for so long. It’s been very surprising to see how plants change season to season, and how many different natural elements and products go into keeping plants indoors and maintaining a lush garden. I’m also surprised at how much I learn from our customers!
What’s the best part about your job?
Because we have had such a steep learning curve about plants, business owning and living on land, the best part of my job is learning something new. I learn something new every day from my team, from our customers or on my own. It’s so rewarding to figure something out about an issue with a plant, or an issue with inventory, and then being able to fix it.
What is your biggest goal for this year?
My biggest goal is to balance work and life better. It has been a very challenging transition from our previous careers, and buying a business is a lot of work. Our one-year anniversary of ownership is in June, and we are so excited to learn all seasons of the business and move into the next half of the year with more experience.
What’s something that few people know about you?
Two things! A lot of people are surprised to find out that I am a Naval Reserve officer. I went to a service academy and I serve two or more weeks per year with the Navy. Also, I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years — and it’s a very important pillar of my health and life. I hope to get certified to teach one day.
Favorite plant to grow? Why?
I particularly enjoy growing lettuce (romaine, butter lettuce and kale) to eat. It’s so gratifying to grow your own food! I have several houseplants but one that I am the most perplexed by is my ZZ ‘Raven’ plant. It needs very little light, and it still grows stems and leaves that are green first and gradually turn a deep purple.
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