FEATURE: Dr. Applebaum's Daffodils Flourish in Front of Deer Park Facades
Deer Park Schools is the beneficiary of a tremendous amount of generous donors each year throughout the district. From alumni to parents to community members and local businesses and organizations, the district receives an immeasurable amount of support from the community each and every year.
One such donation is something that students and staff see every day, but may not know the story behind. Dr. Mark Applebaum has lived in Deer Park since the summer of 1984. He owns Appletree Pet Clinic across from Amity Elementary, and has been a staple of the Deer Park community for more than 30 years.
“I enjoy gardening, especially with native wildflowers and native trees, but also with a lot of spring blooming and summer blooming flowering bulbs,” Dr. Applebaum said. “Many years ago, not long after I bought the house, I decided to put in bulbs. I decided to get some daffodils and tulips and hyacinths and crocuses and see what comes up. They all did well, and, especially the daffodils began multiplying.
"I remembered my mother telling me that the daffodils really needed to be divided every few years. I would do that and plant them all around my yard, covering more and more area. Eventually, I didn’t have any place left to put the new bulbs.”
Dr. Applebaum’s problem became a wonderful addition to Amity around five years ago. He said a staff member at Amity and client at Appletree Pet Clinic suggested he plant some of the bulbs at Amity.
Five years later, you can now find hundreds of those blooming daffodils along the front of Amity Elementary, Deer Park Jr./Sr. High School, and the Holmes Building.
“Each year, the flowers bloom in the spring before the leaves wither around June and that’s the best time to dig them up and find them,” Dr. Applebaum said. “So I would dig them up in June, clean them up, and then in November or December, divide the bulbs and replant them.”
The longtime resident of Deer Park is not just the area’s local anthophile, but also connected to Deer Park Schools in a variety of ways, spanning several decades.
“We have two children, Dan and Jen,” he said. “They both went through Deer Park Schools from kindergarten through graduation. In addition to our biological children, my wife and I have hosted foreign exchange students through the American Field Service exchange program for 15 years.”
This year, the daffodils–which can be seen flourishing out in front of each building on Plainfield, Galbraith, and Donna–are nearing the end of the blooming season, following an unusually long and early season.
“I have two different varieties of daffodils that I’ve planted around the school,” Dr. Applebaum said. “The ones that are blooming right now are the bright yellow King Alfred daffodils. They will probably be fading within a week. But as they begin to fade, the other variety will start to open. These are smaller, pale-white daffodils with a yellow center and a sweet fragrance. I have fewer of them planted, but still fair numbers. That will extend the flowering season by about three weeks.”
Dr. Applebaum said the community of Deer Park continuously impresses him with their friendly disposition and sincerity.
“It’s a friendly community,” he said. “People are nice. In my practice, it’s one delightful person after another every day, all day. I’m not convinced the whole world is like that, but that’s what life has been like for me in Deer Park.”
Though his flowers can be appreciated by everyone throughout the community, Dr. Applebaum is not one for the public spotlight. He is simply enjoying his view from across Galbraith Road.
“If nobody else got any pleasure out of it, I would still get the pleasure out of seeing these flowers every day for many weeks throughout the spring,” he said. “But I know that I’m not the only one enjoying them. It always puts a smile on my face to look out and see the flowers.”
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