Volunteer gardeners lauded for beautifying land near a Germantown gas station

Sheila Eddy’s passion for flowers arrived as a result of coming from a long generational line of gardeners and landscape artists.

For Sharif Floyd, it was a result of looking through his window at a decrepit field across Coulter Street in Germantown and deciding to just go over and start beautifying.

Today, the pair works together to plant gardens on patches of land surrounding the Sunoco gas station at Wissahickon Avenue and West Rittenhouse Street near Germantown’s border with East Falls.

Customers paying at the pumps or heading inside the A Plus mini mart there might not take notice of the whites, yellows, reds and greens blooming near the air pump and “All Milk Gallons State Minimum” signs.

Sustainable Mount Airy, a group of residents focused on Northwest Philadelphia sustainability, did however.

Recoginizing their work

To that end, group president Steve Weinberg awarded the beautifying pair with a $100 gift certificate to a local garden center and a $50 gift certificate to the Trolley Car Diner as a way of saying thanks.

“I hope other people get the idea that, if they see a vacant lot near their house, to go get flowers and plant them,” said Eddy, who has been doing just that along Rittenhouse Street from Pulaski Avenue for the past four years. “It costs money, but it’s worth it.”

For the garden by which they stood to be recognized, Eddy said the station owner donated money, and she was able to procure 25 flats of plants from a group that makes them available to “do-gooders” like she and Floyd.

A worthwhile investment

Asked why she dedicated time, effort, roughly $100 of her own money and an estimated $150 in Floyd’s labor, Eddy said the answer is simple: “Because I live here. It’s all of our jobs to make the world a more beautiful place. It’s about taking ownership of where you live and just doing it.”

As for future plans — “I hear you have so many ideas about what can be done next,” said Weinberg — the gardeners have their eyes on a plot of land near along Lincoln Drive near Wayne Avenue.

Floyd, who has planted flowers at other spots throughout the neighborhood, said some are surprised by his efforts, but to him, it makes perfect sense.

“People would stop and ask who helped me do all of this,” he said. “I would just say, ‘You’re looking at it. I’m the guy who planted those flowers.’ People in the impoverished communities like to say I’m strange. They tell their children to stay away. But I tell them I’m a stranger because they just don’t know me.”

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