Jumat, 24 Juli 2020

A sea of Susans on Sherman Street - Daily American Online

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It’s worth taking a drive to Sherman Street in Meyersdale.

If you do, you will see a sea of black-eyed Susans (in the sunflower family) that are something to behold at the Woolslayer residence. Photographs cannot do this sight justice. It is one of those natural wonders that must be witnessed in person.

On July 9 in the Daily American, Dr. Paul and Helen (Glessner) Woolslayer’s residence was featured on Page A3 with three photographs taken by their son, Kurt Woolslayer, of their black-eyed Susans in full bloom. It is Helen Woolslayer’s favorite flower. And, son Kurt is the botanist, horticulturist, scientist and gardener behind all this beauty.

Now, my history with the Woolslayer family goes back to our school days at Meyersdale. Kurt and I graduated the same year and have always maintained a friendship.

Even in high school, Kurt became a member of FFA and did his FFA Supervised Occupational Experience (SOE) project in horticulture in his own backyard on Sherman Street. We always said back then that Kurt may not have been raised on a farm but was a farmer at heart.

He left for Penn State and then college in Montana, did a stint in the Peace Corps, met and married his wife, Wein, in the Marshall Islands and they had two beautiful girls (Helena and Kellisa.) He came back home to teach science and physics at Rockwood and also serves as a photographer in the marketing department at Seven Springs. And after all these years, he still maintains his love of gardening in the house next door to his parents on Sherman Street in Meyersdale.

Now, daughter Helena and her husband, Brian Karlinsky, of Las Vegas, Nevada, are expecting their first child. And, Kellisa (named after Kurt’s sisters Kelley and Lisa) is a senior at Penn State University majoring in criminal justice.

Visiting Kurt and Wein’s yard this week is like a science lesson and made me wish I would have experimented with more plants throughout the years in my own yard. The black-eyed Susans came from a few plants shared by Aunt Hazel (Glessner) Sechler of Sechler Road in Somerset years ago and then Kurt just kept replanting them and spreading their seeds until the harvest now looks like something out of this world. He collected different varieties after that and cross-bred and developed all kinds of shapes and sizes.

“Lighting affects how they look and when you see them in the morning and then see then in the evening, they have a different appeal,” he says.

But, it doesn’t stop with black-eyed Susans. There are rows of Concord grapes, apple and plum trees, crabapples and English and black walnut, ornamental and Asian pears, magnolia, apricots, quints. In fact, Kurt has 30 different varieties of heirloom apples he ordered online at treesofantiquity.com. There are lilacs, rhododendron, Rose of Sharon, hibiscus, daylilies, foxglove, lamb’s ear, mint, raspberries, sheepnose and the list goes on.

It was like a game going around the Woolslayer yards and when I couldn’t guess what the plant was (which was often the case) Kurt would tell me and I would write it down. And, then I asked horticultural questions galore. I was in paradise because I love gardening!

“I am passionate about the four seasons in Somerset County,” says Kurt. “There is fishing in the spring, gardening in the summer, hunting in the fall and skiing in the winter. It doesn’t get any better than here.”

And, at the end of the tour, I sat down by a shady apple tree and shared a conversation with a friend from high school (after 35 years since graduation) who never lost his passion for farming. I guess you could say “once a farmer, always a farmer.”

(Sandra Lepley is a correspondent for the Daily American)

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July 25, 2020 at 07:02AM
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A sea of Susans on Sherman Street - Daily American Online

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