Unique snowdrop and homemade container evoke memories of garden friends

Unique snowdrop and homemade container evoke memories of garden friends
‘Wasp’ snowdrop was a gift from Len Lehman. Photos by Doug Oster

When Len Lehman and Al Deurbrouck would show up at one of my garden talks, they would often times be the last two entering the room. I would wave and the pair would smile, returning the greeting.

They heard most of the jokes before, but still laughed, as I spoke about whatever the seasonal topic might be.

They were both proud members of the Allegheny Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, it’s in that capacity that we became friends over the years.

Both of them unfortunately passed away last year.

I wrote about Len for this story highlighting the wonderful rock garden in front of the National Aviary which he helped tend. For Al, he showed me how to make homemade troughs to use as containers for this story.

Al Deurbrouck loved making these containers and giving them to friends.

I have one of his troughs in the house where two Sansevieria cylindrica plants happily grow on in the homemade pot on the windowsill.

The two had forgotten more than I’d ever know about gardening and were passionate about everything that grew.

Often times as the crowd thinned at an appearance, we would sit together talking about plants. The pair’s sense of humor was only matched by their love of the garden. Al even once showed me a photo of car which lost control and ended up in his garden.

After finishing a presentation about fall bulbs, where I raved about my love of snowdrops and growing different cultivars, Len told me about his affection for the tiny fall planted bulb which is one of the first to bloom in late winter. He had a rare variety in his garden named ‘Wasp,’ and promised to dig and a few bulbs for me.

‘Wasp’ snowdrop is one of the first flowers to bloom in late winter.

A year later a few little bulbs came in the mail at the perfect time for planting. I thought long and hard about where they should go. The bulbs needed a special spot so they would not be confused with any other snowdrops in the garden.

I chose the side of a bed in the vegetable garden near the front gate.

That tiny patch of special snowdrops happily surprised me when taking the dog for a walk in the garden. In only their second season, they have already started to multiply.

As I laid on my stomach photographing the diminutive pure white flowers, I couldn’t help by smile, thinking about Len. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, but most of all, I thought of his kindness and willingness to share his garden treasures.

Even though it’s bittersweet to think about those two sweet characters, the trough and snowdrop will forever remind me of a couple of gardeners and friends who touched my heart.

2 thoughts on “Unique snowdrop and homemade container evoke memories of garden friends”

  • The Snowdrops are my sign of Hope after the cold of winter. When we built our home which is surrounded by woods we created a “room” in an area close to our home and planted a variety of spring bulbs. From just a small handful of Snowdrop bulbs we now have a cascade covering at least a 30 foot space. Each year they continue to spread and the blanket of flowers are always a very welcome site.

    • Wow Betsy, that sounds wonderful. My biggest patch was planted before I go to this home over 20 years ago. Frankly, I didn’t notice them until about six years ago as they are in an unusual spot. There’s nothing like those snowdrops to let us know spring in on the way! Thanks for sharing.

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