Volunteers Making New Canaan Beautiful

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April Program
The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change with Ken Druse
April 3, 2019
9:30 - 11:30 am
New Canaan Library
Joint meeting with NCGC
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Town Hall Wall Clean Up
April 3, 2019
3:00 pm
Town Hall / Vine Cottage wall
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Clean Your Mile: Locust Ave Parking Lot
April 27, 2019
9:30 am
Locust Avenue Parking Lot
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NCBL 80th
 Anniversary Celebration
April 28, 2019
4:30 - 6:30 pm
Carriage Barn
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May Program
Seizing Beauty-Photographs Inspired by the Old Masters with Paulette Tavomina
May 1, 2019
coffee: 9:30 am
program: 10:00 am
New Canaan Nature Center
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Trail Prep Day
at Lee Memorial Garden
May 4, 2019
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Lee Memorial Garden on Chichester Road
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NCBL  at The Farmers Market
May 18, 2019
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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Azalea Festival
at Lee Memorial Garden
May 19, 2019
1:00 - 4:00 pm
Lee Memorial Garden on Chichester Road
Dear Members,

Officially, it's spring!  The snowdrops are about finished, and the croci are emerging.  It's cleanup time at home, at Lee Garden, in the Triangles, and around town.  This is why we live in southern New England!

Our organization is very busy.  The last program - a movie with popcorn - was very well received.  A very extraordinary film, The Gardener, is now available at the library if you missed it.  In addition, we have been gifted an extraordinary book, The Greatest Perfection: The Story of Les Quatre Vents, on which the film is based.  The book was given in memory of Lois Anderson's involvement with the Garden Center / NCBL by her daughter Susan.  The book is available in our lending library.  Coming up shortly is another exciting program with Ken Druse (read more in this newsletter).

The Annual Appeal is in the works.  Rose Bauersfeld and her team of Dody Whitehurst, Eva Wingate, and Tonya Gwynn have done another amazing feat.  The letters went out to each and every resident thanks to participation by so many of you, our dedicated members.  Karen Hanson is now dutifully recording the donations as they have started coming in to our mailbox.  With these new contributions our, worker bees will be able to continue our efforts at making our town look gorgeous for residents and visitors.  For starters, Liz Orteig and her Traveling Trowels have already scheduled a cleanup at Town Hall.  If you are able to lend a hand just call or email any one of us or reach out through the club's website.

Our website is growing in popularity.  Take a peek yourself at www.NewCanaanBeautification.org.  Thank you Lisa Ferrante for posting and maintaining this for us.

Plans are in the works for NCBL to have a table at the Farmers Market.  Can you help there for a few hours on May 18?

We have a very dedicated committee planning our very special 80th Anniversary Celebration to be held April 28 at the Carriage Barn.  Please plan on attending and replying to your emailed invitation right away.

The days are already getting longer! 

Barbara and Karen

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Please Join Us in Welcoming Our 
New Members! 

Greg Brown
Susan Miley
Sharon Pierce


Presenting Our April Program with the NC Garden Club:

"The New Shade Garden: 
Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change" 
with Ken Druse

Wednesday, April 3
9:30 am: coffee
10:00 am: program

Due to space limitations, this program is limited to NCBL members only.

Ken Druse book and headshot

Ken Druse plumbs the depths of shade once again - 20 years after the publication of his best seller, The Natural Shade Garden. This time, it's a totally new approach designed to tackle the challenges that have arisen due to our changing climate. The low-stress environment of shade (cooler temperatures, fewer water demands, carbon sequestration) is extremely beneficial for our plants, our planet, and us. Ken details new ways of looking at all aspects of the gardening process, in topics such as designing your garden, choosing and planting trees, preparing soil, dealing with deer, and the vast array of flowers and foliage - all within the challenges of a changing climate, shrinking resources, and new weather patterns.
Ken knows that the best defense is to create a verdant retreat - he says, "The garden of the future will be in the shade." 

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

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Check Your Email for Your Invitation
and to RSVP

Celebrate With Us!
April 28, 2019
Anniversary Celebration Invitation

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May Program

Seizing Beauty - Photographs Inspired by the Old Masters
with Paulette Tavomina

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
9:30 am coffee
10:00 am program
New Canaan Nature Center

Paulette Tavomina and book

Paulette will be presenting her spectacular photographs and describing how memories from her childhood, combined with connections made along her journey, have shaped the evolution of her artistry.  Images shown throughout the presentation will cover her past endeavors and her highly acclaimed work that now resides in museums and private collections.  Paulette will cover the process, painstaking techniques and delve into tricks of the trade for shooting live subject matter.  The sumptuous, dramatic subject matter is remarkable and clearly inspired by her admiration for still lives of seventeenth century 
Old Master painters. 

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Read more about Paulette and see her work on her website HERE.


The Membership Committee has been donating the beautiful arrangements made by Jackie Harmody from our meetings to members who have been sick or who have lost a loved one.  Please consider donating any large vases you may have to Jackie Harmody (203-246-6771) to use for NCBL flower arrangements. 
If you know of any member who could benefit from our encouragement and consolation please let one of our Membership Chairs know:

Libby Butterworth, 203-801-0862, eabutter@gmail.com
Sara Hunt, 203-966-3313, skhminky@optonline.net
Margit Mills, 312-925-3861, margitmills@gmail.com

Hospitality would appreciate a volunteer to make a plate of deviled eggs for our April 3 joint meeting with Garden Club. Thank you to those who have already offered to bring additional treats for our members!
Please email Cindy Bamatter if you can help at  cbamatter@gmail.com.

  Deviled eggs  

Food is needed for the May and June meetings.  The program year is almost over, so if you haven't helped yet, it's not too late!  It's easy and your fellow members so appreciate your contributions. 

Please email Cindy Still if you can help at  Stillcj@aim.com
Breakfast breads, cheese, coffee cake or other items are welcome. 

  coffee and snacks  

April 3, 3:00 pm
Town Hall Wall Clean Up

Traveling Trowels will be doing cleanup work in the gardens on top of the WPA wall between Town Hall and Vine Cottage.  We need to cut last year's perennial stalks and trim up the euonymus.   We will be meeting on Wednesday April 3 at 3:00 pm.  If we get plenty of people to help, we should be done quickly.  Many hands make light work!  Let me know if you can make it.  Contact Liz at lorteig@gmail.com

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The wall between Town Hall and Vine Cottage in June.

Post Office Drop Off
Date and Time TBD

Watch your emails!  Mid-April we will be planting at the post office drop off area.  Come help and be a part of the new look there!  Bring gloves and a trowel, and a knee pad if needed.

Exact date will be coming as an email blast to members.

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Locust Avenue Parking Lot
Saturday, April 27
9:30 am

NCBL will be doing our part to clean the miles of our town during "Earth Week 2019".  Bring gloves, clippers, a rake, and help us clean up the Locust Avenue parking lot.  The more the merrier!

May 18
Farmers Market

NCBL will be at New Canaan Farmers Market on Saturday, May 18 from 
10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  We are looking for members to volunteer for 90-minute shifts (or however long you can) letting residents know about NCBL's work and programs.  If interested, please contact Robin Bates-Mason at  rbatesmason@gmail.com .

Farmers Market 9 2018
Robin Bates-Mason, Fanny Moran, and Libby Butterworth at the Farmers Market 2018.

We are looking for members interested in helping prepare for and march in the New Canaan Memorial Day Parade (Monday, May 27).  It is a lot of fun and it would be great to have a good size group representing NCBL in the parade.  If interested, please e-mail Robin Bates-Mason at   rbatesmason@gmail.com.

Memorial Day parade
NCBL marching in the parade in 2018.

Much to Say About Mulch

NCBL Triangles will be moving in a more environmentally friendly direction this year with the use of a manufactured mulch distributed from a local producer in Danbury, CT.

Instead of using Sweet Peet this year, we will be applying a 'natural mulch', show in the photo below.  This is a double ground natural hardwood mulch with a smooth appearance that is not colored and will provide a barrier against weeds.  There was some concern with our continued use of Sweet Peet again this year.  It has been found that many weed seeds that aren't digested by the cows and horses end up in their manure which is the main ingredient of Sweet Peet.  This means we are potentially adding more weeds than already appear in, or blow into, the triangles during the year.  So keep a look out to see how the new mulch looks on most of the triangles around town.

Natural mulch

Why Mulch? 

 A good summary of why we use mulch can be found in a posting from
Garden Basics, Mulching, dated October 20, 2008.  The post states:  "In the 'original' natural systems of prairies and forests, what we would refer to as mulch is the accumulation of system litter - grass and plant stems, leaves and sticks, etc. The slow breakdown and eventual decay of this material is an essential part of these ecosystems and is crucial to their health and continued existence. This decaying material provides shelter and food not only for plants but also for myriads of other soil creatures all along the cycle of life.

Mulch, in its many different forms, in our gardens performs similar functions to that of the decaying litter. Mulch serves to insulate the soil against rapid temperature changes and can keep the soil surface 10 degrees cooler in the summer's blazing heat. Mulch also serves as a blanket in the winter protecting the soil and plants from temperature extremes and the rigors of the freeze thaw cycle in the spring. Mulch also helps water penetrate the soil, helps conserve moisture in the soil, prevents erosion, and prevents desiccation and desertification from the wind.

Gardens are an arrangement of plants of both prairie and forest systems arranged in a manner to suit a given set of aesthetics that are not necessarily organized (even with the best intentions) to take into account the conditions optimal for plant health. Our current cultural aesthetics require that gardens, grass (prairie) and shrub (forest) borders have a certain look with well-defined separation and edges. To this end, all garden beds are mulched and all lawns are kept closely manicured."

Submitted by Barbara Wilson
Triangles Co-Chairman
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Nursery Road & White Oak Shade Triangle's Early Spring Blooms

This triangle is tended by Kathy Demarco and in late March, had some traffic stopping early blooms.

Nursery Road Triangle March 2019
Top row: various species of Crocus.
Bottom row: Scilla siberica (Siberian squill), Scilla mischtschenkoana (white squill),

Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops)


May 4, 10 am - 2 pm
Trail Preparation Day with SLOBs

On Saturday, May 4, the New Canaan Service League of Boys (SLOBs) will be spreading chips on the trails to prepare them for the spring season.  We need help with directing the boys on this day.
Contact Faith Kerchoff at  faithkerchoff@hotmail.com if you can help.

Faith favorite Lee Garden view
Help the SLOBs prepare our paths so all can enjoy the beauty of Lee Garden.


Mondays and Fridays
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Work and Learn Days

Sign up with Faith Kerchoff at faithkerchoff@hotmail.com to receive notices about our woodland garden, and what is currently in bloom.

Foxglove at Lee


May 19, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Lee Garden Azalea Festival

See the breathtaking display of azaleas in bloom.  Bring your friends, family, and camera!

Olive and George Lee Memorial Garden
89 Chichester Road, New Canaan

Lee Garden in full bloom


Lee Memorial Garden Report

It's the time of year when the ephemerals at Lee Garden begin to appear.  Just as the word 'ephemeral' implies, their lives are fleeting, so to see these flowers you must visit the garden often in spring.   Along with the ephemerals, you'll also see early blooming perennials, bulbs, trees, and shrubs.  Witch hazel and snowdrops have been blooming since February.  The following were found blooming in March:

March blooming Lee Garden
Eranthus hyemalis (winter aconite), Helleborus sp., Iris cristata

Faith Kerchoff created a wonderful video in 2017 that will help with identification of the plants at Lee Garden.  You can view it by clicking the image below:

LEE MEMORIAL GARDEN 2017 Names & Dates!
Video of Lee Memorial Garden's plants and names by Faith Kerchoff

March Program in Review

Note: If you were unable to attend this program, you can still watch The Gardener at home.  The library has the DVD available in circulation.

We were treated to a magnificent movie in March.  Before we viewed The Gardener, Nell Smith spoke about her personal relationship with the subjects of the movie: Frank Cabot and his garden, Les Quatre Vents.

Nell Smith
Nell Smith talks about her personal experience with Frank Cabot and Les Quatre Vents.

Years ago, Nell heard Cabot speak at a lecture and wanting to see his magnificent garden herself, called Cabot in hopes to coordinate a visit.  Told that the garden is open only one day a year, her husband, and friends Lois and Andrew Anderson, made the trek to Canada on that only day it was open at the time.  Nell was so touched and inspired by Les Quatre Vents, she sent a note to Cabot to express her admiration.  She received a note of thanks in return from the famous gardener.

The garden is now open more often to the public, although visiting times are still limited.  Note that all dates in 2019 are already sold out!

The Gardener crowd
It was nearly a full house in the Lamb Room.

Flowers in The Gardener
The videography and music in this movie were beautiful.

The Gardener building
The construction and vision of the buildings on the property was also explained.

The magnificence of the movie was a surprise to all.  Superbly filmed, it aptly showed the expanse and beauty of the garden and the vision, whimsy, and humor of the gardener.  The history of the Cabot family property, the evolution of the garden itself, and history of Frank Cabot's impact on the gardening world (he was the founder of the Garden Conservancy) was explained.

The Greater Perfection

Susan Anderson, daughter of Lois and Andrew Anderson, donated a copy of the book that the film was based on, The Greater Perfection, to our league.  You can borrow the book from our NCBL lending library by contacting Faith Kerchoff or Betsy Sammarco.

Many thanks to Carol Seldin, Gerda Smith, and Robin Bates-Mason for organizing this event.  Thank you Michele Sloan for the photos from the event.  

You may find the following links helpful:

Official site for Les Quatre Vents:  https://cepas.qc.ca/jardins-quatre-vents/
Frank Cabot's garden in Cold Spring, NY:   Stonecrop Gardens
The organization founded by Frank Cabot:  The Garden Conservancy

"Seeing a plant in nature helps one plant it in the garden." - Frank Cabot

"I think everyone has a garden in them ..." - Frank Cabot

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Thank you to our hospitality team, Cindy Bamatter, Robin Miner, and Cindy Stills for creating such a fun snack table.  The yummy white cake was quite popular and Robin Miner was asked for the recipe.  It's called Preacher's Cake and you can download the recipe HERE.  It's perfect for Easter celebrations!
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March bouquet
March Flowers  

Jacqueline Harmody's bouquet for the March program was a treat for our soul covered souls.  The color combination of purple, lime green, and white was stunning.

March's arrangement contained lisianthus ( Eustoma),  Viburnum, Bells-of-Ireland, and white  Hydrangea.

Thank you Jacqueline for another beautiful arrangement!

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Did You See the Chamber of Commerce Window?

Our publicity chair, Robin Bates-Mason, and her crew of creatives, Peggy Dannemann and Kathy Lapolla, decorated the Chamber of Commerce window to highlight the work NCBL has done in town.  Stop by and take a look.  It is such a beautiful tribute to our league and we should be proud!

Chamber of Commerce


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More on Hydrating Hydrangeas

Many have trouble with hydrangeas in their floral arrangements.  They may look great for a while, but then they droop.  

In the arrangement she had made for the March program, Jacqueline Harmody's hydrangeas had drooped overnight.  To revive them, she submersed the whole flower in water, then cut the stem under hot water, dipped it in alum, and placed it in the vase.  Jacqueline says you can alternatively crush the stem after cutting.

Hydrangea drooped and revived
A droopy hydrangea (left) commonly occurs after cutting.  A revived hydrangea (right) using Jacqueline's revival technique!

Barbara Mechanic offered a trick to prevent droopy hydrangeas that she learned from one of our NCBL programs:  put a damp paper towel over the hydrangea arrangement overnight.  This should prepare the hydrangea in such a way that it remains hydrated and full.

Hydrangea comes from the Greek word hydro meaning water, which can help us remember that these flowers need a lot of water.

To read more about having success with hydrangeas in your arrangements you can read this blog post from Southern Living Magazine HERE.

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Contribute to our Newsletter!

Email newsletter editor Betsy Sammarco @ esammarco@optonline.net with a tip, trick, or tale from your own garden! 


Greenwich Botanical Center
April 1, 2019
6:30 - 8:00 pm
Adding Native Plants to the Home Landscape
Greenwich Botanical Center
There is a fee for non-members.
Click HERE for more info.

NCL Landscaping for Birds
April 4, 2019
6:30 - 7:30 pm
Landscaping for Birds, Butterflies, and Other Critters
with Patrick Comins
New Canaan Library
Click HERE for more info.

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Bartlett Arboretum logo
April 18, 2019
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Flower Mandala Workshop
Click HERE for more info.

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May 7 - 9, 2019
The Myth of Persephone
Garden Club of America Flower Show
Darien Garden Club
Click HERE for more info.

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May 11 open garden
May 11, 2019
Copake Falls & Hillsdale NY
Garden Conservancy Open Garden,
Plant Sale, and Classes All Day

Visit Margaret Roach's Garden and take a class from gardening experts.
Click HERE to see the schedule and to register.