Doepkens Farm hillside offers outdoor chrysanthemum art


October 27, 1998|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FRIDAY MORNING, I looked out the window and saw frost on the roof. Wouldn't you know it? A frost comes just after we put in the chrysanthemums.

The temperature wasn't cold enough to kill the flowers next to the house, so we can enjoy their rich color a little longer. Later in the day, I was happy to see that another planting of chrysanthemums had survived.

At Route 424 and U.S. 50 sits the Doepkens Farm. For the past four years, Bill Doepkens has created a chrysanthemum portrait on the hillside next to his farmhouse. One year it was a sunburst, then a barn. Last year, a butterfly reigned on the hill.

Now, a chrysanthemum hummingbird drinks nectar from a colossal blossom.

The Doepkens family has lived on the farm for more than 70 years. During much of that time, they grew tobacco. For the past eight years, flowers have been the main cash crop, including more than 90 varieties of chrysanthemums, dried flowers and arrangements.

Four years ago, commuters returning home from a hectic day in the city were surprised to see the flowery sunburst spread across the hillside. It was so popular that Bill Doepkens turned the display into an annual event.

On Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of chrysanthemum slips are set in an intricate pattern on the hillside, following a plan Doepkens develops over the winter.

As the plants grow during the summer, commuters wonder what shape this year's picture will take. When the weather begins to cool, the blossoms emerge, their colors filling in the gorgeous artwork.

The project involves a huge amount of work. Besides the planning, the physical work is incredible. Last year's butterfly needed 1,500 plants.

More than 1,300 plants went into the hummingbird design.

But the beauty on the hillside is worth the effort. Doepkens is planning the design that will grace his farm next year, but he's not telling what it will be. The surprise has become part of the tradition.

Halloween in Crofton

Saturday is the big day -- Halloween.

The fun begins with a parade along Crofton Parkway sponsored by the Crofton Kiwanis.

The parade will begin at Crofton Woods Elementary School at 10 a.m. and proceed along Crofton Parkway to Crofton Elementary School.

The Arundel High School Marching Band will be the lead unit, followed by horses, floats, fire engines and, the real reason for the hullabaloo, hundreds of children in Halloween finery.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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