SEASIDE — Keeping the city’s pocket garden’s looking lush and colorful is a year ’round job for horticulturalist/entrepreneur/tourist liaison Pam Fleming.

The Kansas transplant has had her hands in Seaside’s soil for 20 years.

“When I started, I went through all the pocket gardens and redid them,” she said. “They had gotten overgrown and there wasn’t a lot of color. When they put it out to bid … I had a partner that had been in landscape design longer than I, and she was local. She helped me put together the plan for how to redo everything, and we gutted it. We left some things that could be worked with, but most of it we pulled out.”

She, through her company Nature’s Helper, designs, installs and maintains the pocket gardens. In addition, she keeps the 60-plus hanging baskets that line the city’s streets bright and cheery for the Seaside Downtown Development Association.

It works out to about 100 of the pocket gardens, the bump out planters, and other landscaping in the downtown grid. In addition, she also maintains the city’s landscaping at City Hall, the Visitors Bureau, the Public Library, the Police Department and others.

She has help with the sizeable territory. Her husband, Dave Quinton, and her son, Dustin Fleming, help out, and she has a part-time employee Lora Van Nortwick.

On The Clock

She works seven days a week during the summer months, spending Monday through Thursday in Seaside and Friday through Sunday at Back Alley Nursery, a business in Gearhart she co-owns.

There’s always something to do, she said, pruning, mulching, cleaning, dividing.

Not that she’s complaining.

“It’s been a fantastic experience for me,” she said. “I feel super fortunate to have this job.”

Things slow down in the rainy winter months, but there’s still work to be done. She might work for just a few hours.

“Once I’m drenched, I’m done,” she said.

However the gardens still need to look their best in the winter as well, she said.

“Once the gardens are done, which is after the first freeze, you go back through them all and cut out everything that’s been affected by the weather. The biggest challenge in gardening for me in this area is winter. Because it’s when it’s the harshest, (I try to) find something that can stand up to the weather so that there’s something to look at, even in the winter, because we have a big tourist attraction in the winter.”

Work In Progress

“It started out we wanted to reflect the atmosphere of Seaside, which was family, all the different types of shops, the feeling of beachy fun, colorful; and we were able to pick out specific gardens, and we called them theme gardens and we were able to create a theme outside the business that reflected what the business was. So in front of a restaurant, we were able to do herb gardens. There were a lot of styles of buildings, colors; we’d pull out the colors of the buildings.

And the process continues.

“It’s always changing. It’s funny. I can go back through the gardens and see, ‘Oh, that was the year I that I liked that kind of material or this was the year I hated that material and it’s all gone,’” she said.

Green Thumb Ambassador

Fleming understands the significance of the thousands of visitors who come to Seaside each year. She’s tailor made for the job.

“I’m a Kansas person, and we have a tendency to yak, which is one of the things that’s perfect for me down here, because … within a minute of me getting out of the truck and working somebody comes up and starts talking,” she said. “They want to know, ‘What’s this? What’s that? Where’s this? Where’s that?’ So whoever works in the downtown core has to be sociable, and I love it. It just lines right up with me, what I’m all about.”

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