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Maldari's Hobby Grows Dearer With the Years

Image of Fay Maldari. Credit: NASA/S. Jenise Veris (SGTI) Since retiring from NASA's Facilities and Technical Engineering Division in 1997, Fay Maldari has become a passionate gardener who enthusiastically shares her knowledge and the bounty of her labor with her local community.

Image right: Maldari stands by one of her many indoor plants. Credit: NASA/S. Jenise Veris

"Other grandmothers carry pictures of their grandchildren; I carry pictures of my garden," said Maldari, a grandmother of four. "I was invited to become a member of the Ridgewood Garden Club on the strength of the pictures, alone."

Small but eclectic, Maldari's garden features an incredible variety of plants and structures assembled in "vignettes" (small sections) to represent countries that she has visited. A native of the Philippines, Maldari noted that her personal favorite is the Japanese section that features a meditation bench and Buddha statue with prayer stones. A trip to Europe inspired sections defined by an iron trellis to resemble the Eiffel Tower for Paris; an arbor of concord grapes with wisteria to resemble the vineyards of Italy; and a formal-patterned area of flowers with birdbath to resemble the grand gardens of England estates usually highlighted by fountains.

Japanese section in Maldari's garden.  Credit: Fay MaldariImage left: Maldari's favorite section of her garden. Credit: Fay Maldari.

Maldari's garden also contains a variety of herbs and potted plants in unusual containers such as golf shoes, a chair seat and a bed frame.

When in full bloom, Maldari’s garden poses such a spectacular view that the Ridgewood Garden Club holds their annual fundraiser at her home. This setting sparks customers’ creativity for their own gardens, and results in ample sales.

"We sell potted plants from divided perennials donated by club members, many of which customers are invited to see on a tour of my garden," Maldari said. "Last year's proceeds funded the garden club’s local scholarship. We also donated plants to a hospice center and a nearby nursing home."

Flower quilt on recycled bed. Credit: Fay Maldari.Image right: Maldari designed a beautiful quilt out of flowers for a recycled bed. Credit: Fay Maldari

Maldari lends her time and green thumb to enhance the landscape along the prayer walk at her church, Divinity Lutheran in Parma Heights, as well. The church originally planted hostas and evergreens for low maintenance, but Maldari has incorporated a variety of plants, flowers and trees (for each of the prayer stations) whose names are mentioned in The Bible. They include Lamb's Ear, Dogwood and Fig trees, Lilies of the Valley, Rose of Sharon and Twelve Apostles. Since adding the unique array of plants and flowers, parishioners now schedule wedding pictures and rehearsal teas in the area.

"As the years go by, I’ve come to see each plant as a blessing that I never want to waste," Maldari said. "That is why I keep the cuttings and divisions and pot them to share with guests or just to spread some cheer."

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By S. Jenise Veris