A Tribute to an Original: Zsolt Lehoczky

“I have an idea.”

The sentence is a frequent one Zsolt utters

“I have an idea.”

The sentence is a frequent one Zsolt utters. Those of us who work at the Dunn Gardens could never anticipate what would follow this announcement since Zsolt is catholic in his thoughts. He pondered about everything related to the Dunn: where to put a new parking lot, adding bird house building to our class lineup, making the vegetable garden bulge, shooing off moles, fixing dips in the Great Lawn, adding a screen. It has been a feast and a delight to roll around these notions and watch many of them mature.

The above suggests that the flow of Zsolt’s ideas in the Dunn is past tense. Sadly, as of July 1, 2017 this will be the case.

Zsolt Lehoczky has been working at the Dunn Gardens as a gardener first, and later as the Trust Grounds Manager, for almost eighteen years. His legacy is one to envy. The pleasure expressed by visitors to the Gardens over the years is immense. It is a sentiment that was reinforced yet again when I was manning an information booth at a recent event at the Seattle Locks.  A passerby said to a companion after reading the sign atop the picture display, “Dunn Gardens are goooorgeous.”

While maintaining loveliness implies a level of skill in pruning, weeding and planting more sophisticated than most do-it-yourself gardeners possess, it involves much more. Zsolt obviously has these gardening skills but he has others – the kind that those of us who create honey-do lists venerate. His training and inclination leads him to tasks such as designing irrigation systems that water only as much as needed, keeping the pumps running when they don’t want to and coaxing old lawn mowers to keep going through old age. All that backstage stuff is needed to keep the glory of the garden alive, not to mention, saved the Dunn a good deal of money over the years.

But Zsolt has another quality the Dunn will miss: his influence as a mentor/teacher. His pruning and best practice classes filled up almost the minute they were announced.  People floated out of them clutching their notes, both fired up and relieved that Zsolt had provided them a path forward. He had rendered seemingly intractable gardening difficulties manageable.

Perhaps the greatest reason we have to mourn Zsolt’s leaving is his out and out kindness. Last April, the Castronuevo family donated a 12-foot yew tree from their newly sold home. Unhappy that a tree with such close connections to their late father would be lost, the family offered it to the Dunn. Getting such a large tree settled, particularly in a toasty spring, was no easy chore but Zsolt paid it every deference – all the way to setting up a misting system above it to halt evaporation. Happily the yew in front of the cottage now looks as though it belongs. 

But, as is the way of things, it is time for Zsolt to expand his career, utilize more fully the skills he has honed over time and the education he has pursued.  Those of us who have worked with Zsolt will surely miss him. We have an idea that the folks at his new workplace will wonder at their good fortune when he announces, as he surely must, “I have an idea.”









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