Seaside Stories

Making Seaside Beautiful: Gardens

May 13, 2011 | by Barbara Jensen

Are you curious about Seaside’s flowers and plants? Every time I pass the new garden beds coming to life along Roosevelt (pictured above), I dream of growing my own patch of lettuce, spinach and other edibles this summer. Seeking help on starting a garden plot sent me in search of Pam Fleming, whose reputation as a resource on Seaside’s gardens was a bit understated as I was to discover. I met her at Back Alley Gardens & Natural Nook Florists , 738 Pacific Way in Gearhart.

Billed as perhaps the world’s smallest garden center, Back Alley Gardens developed from the work of Cathie Cates of Natural Nook Florist and Fleming of Nature’s Helper Landscaping. Both see the garden center as an expansion of their special expertise. They each have something new and creative to offer. From traditional arrangements to livings designs, they want to create long lasting container gardens filled with living bouquets. To do this they are cultivating a selection of plants able to thrive in this coastal area. All are invited to bring containers to fill or choose containers from the shop. I did not bring a container but now I know.

What I did bring was my gardening questions and Fleming talked with me and answered questions about the edible variety of gardening. Fleming, a master gardener, and an enthusiastic booster for the Seaside Community Garden (located behind the pool and along Roosevelt near Lyle’s) said that the Community Gardens are a smashing success every year and a resource for local residents wanting a garden of their own. She has been busy planting trees around the raised beds, and I left rather eager to get started.

After meeting Fleming, I simply had to go through town revisiting and admiring the beautiful miniature gardens found around Seaside all over again. Why? I found out that Fleming makes them. Fleming’s Natures’ Helper is the creative force behind Seaside’s one hundred plus miniature garden spots known as Pocket Gardens.

Fleming’s themes and designs are found at the intersections, side streets, and in front of businesses along downtown Seaside, from the turnaround along Broadway throughout the downtown city blocks.  Some of her pocket gardens have themes connected to the businesses they decorate. For example, she planted herbs in front of the Pig and Pancake Restaurant. She is said to plan her gardens in terms of micro climates which is probably why in some of the small more protected garden spaces flowers bloom as early as February.

Her work beautifying Seaside through her many gardens could itself be described as a vision of micro-ginormous proportions. Others have called her pocket gardens living art. However, writer Marilyn Gilbaugh said it better, “Seaside has its riches:  the ever-changing ocean, long stretches of sandy beach, the surrounding mountains…and Pam Fleming’s gardens.”

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