You'd want 10 of her in your organization


Pamela Sodi is a woman of many talents. Raised on a farm in New Jersey, she knows how to do just about everything related to plants and flowers, from propagating, putting them in the ground, nurturing them through the winter in a greenhouse, saving seeds, and designing a garden. You'd do well to have about 10 of her if you're a staff-starved organization.

Where were we? Oh yes, Fairmount Park's Horticulture Center at Belmont Mansion and Montgomery Drives, in the  designated Centennial DIstrict of the park. Every time I visit this part of the city, which isn't nearly enough given that it's literally minutes from my house, I'm amazed at how wonderful it looks. This, despite tough, tough times.

Pamela and a small group of volunteers - how about four - make up in enthusiasm what they lack in resources. They're doing the best they can, and Pamela is spending a good bit of her own money and free time in the process. She's propagating plants for nine small gardens around the center, which is open to the public almost every day of the year.

Ever been there? It's near the Japanese House. You could combine the two in one visit.

This morning Pamela showed me around the garden beds her group is restoring. They include, among others, a lavender garden, a contrast garden, and her favorite, the hummingbird garden. No hummers yet - the first migrators will be showing up at the end of May/early June, followed by the nesters. Pamela is growing a lot of their favorites, and some may surprise you, like black and blue salvia.

While it's true that hummingbirds love flowers in the pink-red spectrum, Pamela says they're also very adventurous and love to explore and try other flowers. Black and blue salvia has a lot of nectar, which makes them attractive to hummingbirds. Who knew?

Pamela promises that in season, you can sit in the hummingbird garden - very, very still - and these fascinating little helicopters will zip all around you. "Lots and lots and lots of them," she says. I can't wait.