A new beginning at 60

I started getting texts Friday from co-workers. Each one telling me they were being laid off. That’s when my phone rang and I got the bad news. The supervisor on the other end of the line was actually quite kind and then started reading a prepared statement. I asked a few pretty stupid questions and from what I could surmise, this wasn’t so much a layoff, it was the end of my time with the company.

Daffodils emerge every spring regardless of what happens in our world. Photo by Doug Oster

For the the first time since 1972 (when I was 12), I was unemployed. I was just finishing a post about seed companies being overrun with orders is response to the coronavirus when I got that call. It was thrilling to be ahead of the curve, writing that story; covering the biggest news in years from a gardening perspective. It was just after the final quotes were emailed to me from around the country that I took that call.

I walked out the kitchen door and yelled up to my wife, who was walking the dogs, “I just got laid off.” She was more upset than I was, as she new I just worked about a month straight preparing and appearing at the Duquesne Light Home and Garden Show for the company. Sometimes when these things happen, you second guess yourself for working like that, but it needed to be done.

As I sat in front of my laptop jobless, I put the finishing touches to the seed post, adding photos, and hit the button putting it out on the web.

I don’t know what I’d do without my wife and also the garden. Both offered solice during the first few hours, trying to figure out what was next. I walked the trails through the forest with a beer in one hand and my chin in the other, pondering the future.

For now there are some constants. I’ll appear every week on Sundays at 7 a.m. for The Organic Gardener Radio Show on KDKA 1020AM. You can listen to it anytime here. I’ll still appear on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live on certain Fridays. I’ll be posting videos, stories, columns photos here and at my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites.

I love telling these stories of gardeners and their love of being in the dirt. I’ll continue to do so because it’s just what I do.

Lastly thanks to all of you for your support during the first days of this life changing experience, and remember, gardening is fun. No matter what happens in our world, the daffodils emerge each spring.

Here’s a video of my first day jobless.


47 Replies to “A new beginning at 60”

  1. We are all gardens…works in progress. You taught us well. Doctor, heal thyself!’

  2. Good morning Doug,
    We will all get through this together!
    Yes, it can be disconcerting to go through a life change like this, (I am right there with you in this) however we have more options than we think…
    Many of us gardeners and horticulture instructors who live in the public eye are experiencing a similar change as programs and classes are canceled – we will find ways to be able to share our green knowledge with the world – people need our assistance and information, especially if they are new to the gardening craft.
    Wise words from one of my daily “check-in” sites:
    “Instead of focusing so much on where you want to be in one, two, or five years, start focusing more on the journey itself. After all, the journey is your daily life! Slow down and pay more attention to how you’re living now, not just how you want your life to be later. It’s too easy to get caught up in the rat race and the urge for more power or money. Once you reach your goals, will you have good friends to celebrate with? Put work aside and play a little.”
    We will survive and grow, as do the mosses and crabgrasses take root in the smallest crack of a barren parking lot. They are the precursors of their new world, and they change the environment so that more and more plants can colonize and proliferate in that spot.
    My best wishes and helpful energy to you as we move through this brave new world.
    As the song by Gloria Gaynor plays out: “I Will Survive”
    Warm Regards,
    David R. Clark, CNLP

  3. I am so sorry this happen to you , Doug. I remember vividly the first time I was “let go” at the age of 50. You have gifts and wisdom yet to share. I know you will find the right place to be. May the coming days land gently on your soul as you try to figure it all out. Blessings for the new journey.

  4. Doug,
    You are so knowledgeable and very entertaining as well. I love how you explain in simple terms so everyone can understand. I can’t believe someone would let you go, their loss. You will land on your feet. You have a positive outlook and a lot of supporters. We “Garden people “ stick together!

  5. Doug, when this crisis is over, they will be beating down your door to get you. You have so much to give back to your public, family and friends. I truly believe there is something better out there for you. It’s probably happened to most of us at some time in our working life. It’s scary not knowing what will follow. While you try to put forth a positive attitude, know we are all behind you in your future endeavors and will continue to follow you through your media threads. ❤️

  6. Hey Doug. Sorry to hear and read of your situation. Our few interactions have always been fun. Your knowledge is invaluable and your spirit is strong. Good things will come your way. See ya on the water soon I am sure.

  7. That’s good to hear Stacy, it’s going to be fun to spread the word to all the “Garden people.”

  8. Wow, thanks for the nice message, much appreciated David. I also wish you the best for the future. I guess we’re both survivors.

  9. I don’t really know exactly what this means. Will you no longer be in the Tribune Review? Is Everyone Gardens finished? Actually I thought you freelanced all long. Perhaps that is what you can do? I’m sure garden clubs, nurseries and magazines/newspapers will still be interested. Also you are gifted and new opportunities will come your way. An ending is also a new beginning.

  10. We cannot “like” this situation but we do like your healthy attitude. We’re glad we can still see and learn from you at some of these outlets and very much look forward to seeing, learning from, and if at all possible helping, you whenever we have a chance. We have learned SO much from you, and not just gardening! You rock, Mr Oster, and we do sincerely look forward to whatever adventures this next chapter opens to. And maybe out on the water.

  11. Like so many of others, I have been a loyal fan of yours for years!
    We will continue to follow you, your advice, and the happy garden journeys you take us on.
    Everything seems to have changed in the past week but gardens live on, perennials keep erupting each season, and trees will soon turn the Western Pennsylvania rolling hills into shades of green. Gardens offer up daily miracles. when we just stop to look. Thanks for leading us through so many wonderful beautiful garden paths and showing us the way to see the miracles.

  12. Never fear…when this “storm” passes there will be opportunities waiting. You do realize that you could easily add this statement to your resume.
    References: Zillions available.
    We ♡ you. We’ll be waiting.

  13. Love David’s comment. It will also help all that read it. It gave me a new perspective. Wishing you the best, Doug.

  14. Both Mt Cuba Center and the Polly Hill Arboretum we’re started by people in their 60’s. I don’t mean to downplay what a tremendous life change this is. I just think you could anything you want.

  15. When one door closes another one opens…. remember that! Something bigger & better lies ahead! So happy that you’ll continue your Sunday morning program on KDKA and also on the TV side. AND, please continue with the fun, videos & shared garden knowledge here on FB. As they say “it ain’t over till there fat lady sings” so hang in there! We’re all here for you! ❤

  16. When we moved to Pittsburgh in 2014, the yard in our house had been neglected for several decades. Trees, shrubs, flowers, all needed immediate attention. I soon discovered your Sunday mornings at Giant Eagle Market District and became a regular. I had done a little gardening in the past but nothing like my yard now needed. I learned to garden from you and Jessica, especially from you. I began following you all around in person and online. You taught me to really love gardening. It became fun and rewarding. And it really saved me when I retired and didn’t know what to do with myself. One can learn from books, but nothing can replace the impact of a personal interaction with some like yourself who teaches with such energy and enjoyment. You have really changed my life and I will always be grateful. And I look forward to following you wherever it is your journey takes you. You are certainly one of Pittsburgh’s local treasures.

  17. Sorry to hear that we will not hear you every Sunday morning! I so looked forward to your programs!

  18. You will be sorely missed, but I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. We are all in this together and we will help you get through it. You lift our spirits every time we hear your advice or stories. Thank you for all the years of joy, gardening and you, Doug!

  19. You can have a photography class on how to shoot plants, flowers, trees gardens, etc. Your photography is beautiful!

  20. John, thanks for all your support over the years. I’m still writing and posting, so I hope to keep on helping people garden.

  21. I won’t be in the Tribune-Review, I’m not sure what they are doing with Everybody Gardens, but I won’t be part of that either. I’ll be writing stories right here.

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