TAMPA — It’s an almost blisteringly hot June afternoon, and “Pakita,” as she likes to be known, sits on a lawnchair surrounded by her flowers, her fruit bushes and her animals as the World Cup blares in the background.
Just another day at Hummingbird Gardens, a hidden jewel off North Henderson Road that offers exotic plants, pottery, and plenty more exotic stuff, not to mention festivals.
She’s been running Hummingbird Gardens for eight years. It’s a bit out of the way, but she has a steady stream of regular customers. Pakita started it as a hobby, but she’s passionate about what she has to offer.
Her food is produced on the farm beyond her outdoor market. Everything is organic and grown on the spot. She gets her plants from small farms in the Carrollwood area and refuses to use preservatives. Growing organic, she knows she is offering something the big chain grocery stores can’t provide.
“It’s all natural and grown with no pesticides,” said Pakita, whose real name is Franchesca Valencia Barbosa. “Our soil is clean and we don’t use chemicals. It makes a difference.”
The plants she sells are grown without chemicals.
“It is so exciting to see someone grow a plant on their own without the pesticides that so many people use,” Pakita said. “Everything I do, I love. I love to plant and grow, and that’s about the best thing I can do. I am so happy.”
She has lived a nomadic life.
Born in Peru, she moved to Venezuela and Brazil as a youngster. Of all places, she next moved to Green Bay, Wis., then Chicago, then New York, before deciding she had had enough of the cold. Tampa was next.
Sitting in her garden waiting for customers, she said that she simply loves what she is doing. She smiles easily and couldn’t be more relaxed.
Why did she call it Hummingbird Gardens?
Because she loves the sound of hummingbirds when she is relaxing in her garden.
“All my life I loved the sound of the hummingbird,” she said. “They make such a beautiful sound. They make me smile. I always wanted to own a business that had the word hummingbird in it. It all started to come together, and I had the name already.”
Hummingbird Gardens hosts an international festival on the second Saturday of every month from October until May. She said she is looking for more vendors.
Hummingbird Gardens is at 10305 N. Henderson Road. Call (813) 204-1643.