Fair Lane Staff Profile: Pamela Morrison
Pamela Morrison is Fair Lane’s longest serving staff member, and has been with the estate since the 1980s. She started her career at the University of Michigan- Dearborn in 1983, working in the college’s Business Office. While seeking an outlet for her love of gardening and her creative instincts, a friend encouraged Pamela to volunteer at the Henry Ford Estate, which at that time was owned and maintained by the University.
When she started, the estate was unable to provide garden volunteers with rakes, hoes, and tree loppers; each volunteer had to bring their own tools from home. To address this, Pamela helped to organize Fair Lane’s annual Plant Sale, using an abundance of plants donated by Block’s Stand and Greenhouse in Romulus. This event offers perennials, wildflowers, and heirloom plants for sale to the public, as well as garden decorations like stepping stones and bird houses. A staple event for Dearborn’s gardener community, the Plant Sale is celebrating almost 30 years and this year will take place on May 15th and 16th. All proceeds benefit the restoration of the Fair Lane gardens.
Focusing her efforts on the planting and maintenance of the Rose Garden, Pamela enrolled in multiple gardening classes and quickly proved her knowledge and leadership skills to her fellow volunteers and the estate staff. In 1994, Pamela accepted a part-time position as the estate’s head gardener and garden volunteer coordinator. To continue her recruitment efforts, she helped to bring the Ford Community Service program to Fair Lane, under which the Ford Motor Company regularly sends volunteers to the estate and other community organizations to perform community service. These Ford Motor Company volunteers assist with projects such as cleaning out the pond by the boathouse, and clearing and removing invasive shrubs from Fair Lane’s fields and woods. In 2019 approximately 300 of these volunteers participated in clean-up efforts after a long winter and helped with garden maintenance throughout the season, and Pamela was instrumental in recruiting and organizing them.
When the estate was turned over the management of a new nonprofit in 2013, Pamela agreed to stay on to oversee the garden volunteer program and the greenhouse, and life at Fair Lane is as busy today as it was when she first started. The garden volunteer program currently has the enthusiastic support of 32 permanent volunteers, who come every spring and stay throughout the year. Public programs such as the Plant Sale and October’s Trick-or-Treat in the Gardens continue to grow in popularity, and are made possible only through the enthusiastic support of these volunteers.
Fortunately for Fair Lane, while Pamela likes the gardens, she LOVES working with her volunteers, many of whom she has helped to recruit over the years. “We all learn from each other,” she says of her team. “It’s us. It’s we. It’s not me.”
Well said, Pamela! We are fortunate to have you watching over our gardens.