Green thumb grows grapefruit tree at workplace

Barbara Jane Hamman with her grapefruit tree.


BG Independent News


Saying that Barbara Jane Hamman has a green thumb doesn’t do her justice. As her co-workers will attest, Hamman can get almost any plant to grow – including a grapefruit tree born from a seed in a fellow employee’s breakfast.

More than 20 years ago, Hamman stuck the grapefruit seed in a planter at her workplace at Century Marketing Group, and now the plant towers more than 6 feet tall.

“This girl at work had been on a grapefruit diet,” Hamman said. And one morning, her grapefruit had two seeds that had already sprouted. So Hamman stuck one in a planter on her desk.

“The seed started sprouting,” she said.

Over the years, the plant moved with Hamman as she took different positions at Century Marketing. “It went from one building to the next with me.”

But Hamman is planning to retire, and her husband wasn’t thrilled about the grapefruit tree coming home with her.

“He said, ‘You can’t bring that home. We don’t have room for that,’” Hamman said of her husband.

So a co-worker, Irene Patten, started looking for a new home to adopt “George,” as the tree was named. “That way you can go visit it,” Patten told Hamman.

Patten checked with a couple greenhouses in Bowling Green, however, had no luck. But a member of the Bowling Green State University biology faculty agreed to give the tree a home.

“George” is rather sensitive, Hamman advised. “It likes sun. It doesn’t like the cold whatsoever. It drinks a lot of water.”

Over the tree’s two decades at Century Marketing, a lot of employees were surprised to find out that grapefruit trees have thorns.

“It would bite,” Hamman said.

The tree never flowered or produced fruit, but “it was beautiful,” with its big shiny leaves, she said.

The grapefruit tree has now made the move safely to its new home.

“It’s just too bad that I don’t get to visit,” Hamman said. But the tree’s new family sent photos. “She did send some shots of him in his new home.”

Throughout the years at her workplace, Hamman had gained the reputation as a dead plant whisperer.

“The girls always bring me their dead plants,” and she would revive them.

As Hamman prepares to retire, she hopes to achieve a lifelong green thumb goal.

“My dream has always been to have a greenhouse. It’s never happened,” she said. Hamman has realized that over the years, her knees have become more resistant to working in the soil. If she gets down to plant, it’s getting very difficult to get up again.

As for her husband not wanting a giant grapefruit tree in their Bloomdale home, Hamman has a little secret.

“I’ve got another one growing at home. My husband doesn’t realize what it is,” she said. “He sits by it all the time.”

Hamman is hoping that by the time the tree gets big, it will have grown on her husband like it did on her.