Retired pathologist brings experience to Master Gardener talk in Jefferson Hills

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:18 p.m.

Since retiring from a 35-year career in medicine, Silloo Kapadia of Franklin Park now can devote as much time as she wants to her avocation: growing and teaching about edible herbs and spices.

She'll bring her experience to the final Master Gardeners presentation on May 29 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the community room of the Jefferson Hills Municipal Center on Old Clairton Road.

“I was always interested in growing herbs even as I worked as a professor and a pathologist,” said Kapadia, 72.

She acquired her medical degree at Chennai, formerly Madras, India, did her pathology residency at UPMC and was a professor of pathology at UPMC and later, at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Her interest in the flavorful greens has brought her to lead the Western Pennsylvania Unit of the Herb Society of America. And with dedication, she earned a Master Gardener certification at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in 2007. She has been a Penn State Allegheny Master Gardener since 2012 and delivering lectures since 2009. She set 14 presentations for this year.

Basil is one of her favorite herbs. But for Indian-style cooking, she uses more spices, such as turmeric, coriander and cumin, especially for curries.

Herbs are not difficult to grow, she said, as long as they have full sun, well-drained soil, the right temperature and pH balance, and water.

Kapadia has container gardens on her deck at home and has grown thyme and lavender in her garden.

Duplicating the growing conditions of the country of origin can bring local gardeners closer to fragrant harvests of the herbs.

It is for area gardeners that the Master Gardeners series was developed by Jane Milner, Jefferson Hills Library program/events coordinator. With all the new construction in the borough during the last 10 years, Milner finds more and more homeowners working on landscaping.

“Most have at least flowers in pots and containers on their porches and patios,” she said. “Some who come to the classes tell us that gardening is their hobby, and just like the Master Gardeners, they are also very knowledgeable about gardening.”

These programs have been some of the most popular ones at the library in the last two years with an average of 25 people attending each of the sessions. Milner is about to start planning next year's talks, but she is looking for input from the community. By going to the Master Gardeners' website,, residents can learn about available topics and let Milner know what they would like to see on the schedule. Contact her at

Kapadia has found gardening gaining in popularity in the Pittsburgh area.

“Gardeners are more conscious of sustainability and eating healthy,” she said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy