Garden of Knowledge

Melanie Fathman's favorite spot in the garden is the Shoenberg Temperate House.

Edited By Melissa Mauzy
Photography courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden


To spend time with Melanie Fathman, longtime Garden member and volunteer, is a delightful experience to say the least. Her vast knowledge and long history is admirable and has inspired many throughout the years to become a part of the Garden family – that is, its members. Melanie began volunteering at the Garden hosting children’s birthday parties in 1969. She served on the Friends Board and was a founding member of the Boxwood Society. Her work in the Herb Society resulted in thousands of propagated herbs for annual herb sales throughout the years and brought about a book she coauthored with Barbara Reber Ottolini, “It’s All in the Name - A Guide to the Botanical Names of Some Herbs and Useful Plants,” a reference that is widely used by both new and experienced gardeners. When asked what first comes to mind of all her experiences at the Garden she was quick to reply, “People here are so giving of their knowledge; they genuinely want to share what they themselves have learned. It’s not like that everywhere. I assume the beauty of this place puts people in a generous mood." Melanie is particularly fond of the Shoenberg Temperate House. "The Temperate House looks alive with scents and color all seasons of the year! I love Mediterranean Gardens very much because of all the associations we all have about the culture, climate and memories from that part of the world!”