Volunteers Making New Canaan Beautiful

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January Program
Impressionists in the Garden: From Vista to Vase with ArtScapades co-founder Robin Hoffman
January 9, 2019
coffee: 9:30 am
program: 10:00 am
New Canaan Nature Center
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Workshop: Create a Living Centerpiece with Jenn Cipriano
January 29, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Copia Home and Garden
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February Program
Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History with Carol Gracie
February 6, 2019
coffee: 9:30 am
program: 10:00 am
New Canaan Nature Center
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March Program
The Gardener: Enjoy the award-winning film about Les Quatre Vents
March 6, 2019
coffee: 9:30 am
program: 10:00 am
New Canaan Nature Center
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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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You can find a complete listing of our programs on our website by clicking
Dear Members,

Now that the holiday decorations have been put away and "thank you" notes been written, we can attack all those projects we save up for those wintery January days and begin to think of our spring gardens.  

The Beautification League has two opportunities to brighten up the month - our program on January 9, "Impressionists in The Garden: From Vista To Vase", and a hands-on workshop at Copia Home and Garden on Tuesday, January 29.  See below for the details on these events. 

We want to give a big "thanks" to Karen Mactas who organized our shopping event at Against The Grain on December 13.  The owner, Chris Meier, agreed to donate 10% of all sales made between 4:00 and 8:00 pm that evening.  We had a nice turnout of members who enjoyed wine, hors d'oeuvres, and gift buying, and we received a check for $150.  Again, nice job, Karen! 

In January we will also gear up for our Annual Appeal.   We ask each member to address envelopes and will have bags of them available at the January meeting.   Thanks to Rose Bauersfeld's superb organization and the stuffing party at Lapham (which was lots of fun), the envelopes are ready to go and only need addressing.  We need the participation of all our members to make our 2019 Appeal as successful as last year's appeal.   Thanks in advance for your help. 

The date for the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the New Canaan Beautification League is Sunday, April 28.  We will have a meeting in January to form committees for the event.  Please contact us if you would like to help. 

Hope to see you at the January 9th meeting. 

Barbara and Karen

Winterberry at Lee
Winterberry at Lee Garden in December.

artscapadesJanuary Program

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Robin Hoffman Jodi Stiffelman
Co-founders of ArtScapades, Robin Hoffman and Jodi Stiffelman.

Flowers are made for Impressionism. When we think of the Impressionists, images of vibrant landscapes and beautiful bouquets come to mind.

In a special lecture ArtScapades has developed for gardening groups, Robin Hoffman will discuss how gardens and flowers played an important role in the periods of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, as well as American Impressionism.

ArtScapades will present works by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, and Childe Hassam, paying special attention to the flowers they painted. 

Robin Hoffman and Jodi Stiffelman, of ArtScapades, began teaching art appreciation in 1998. They have presented at libraries and museums in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, and are delighted to have been asked to speak at the New Canaan Beautification League.

You can download a flyer by clicking HERE.
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Attend a hands-on workshop, meet other members, and make something beautiful this winter:

Copia Workshop

Light refreshments will be provided!
$65 workshop fee to: Betsy Sammarco, 54 Toquam Road, New Canaan
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February Program

Brighten up your winter days and come to a presentation on: 
"Spring Flowers of the Northeast:  A Natural History"  by Carol Gracie.  Carol will talk about these ephemeral beauties which will soon make their appearance in our landscapes.  

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Carol Gracie is retired from The New York Botanical Garden, where she was Director of the Foreign Tour Program and the Children's Education Department.  She later worked in the Science Division, making dozens of trips to South and Central America as a tour leader on botanical collecting expeditions.  Her work has resulted in the naming of seven newly discovered tropical plant species and one new genus for her (including two named jointly for both Carol and her husband).  She is a co-author, with her tropical botanist-husband, Scott Mori, of the two-volume Guide to the Vascular Plants of Central French Guiana.  Carol has since returned to her earlier interest in local flora and is the photographer and co-author, with Steve Clemants, of Wildflowers in the Field and Forest: A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States (Oxford University Press, 2006).  Her latest book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History, was published in 2012 by Princeton University Press.  Carol is currently working on a book about the natural history of summer wildflowers.

Books by Carol Gracie will be available for purchase.
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Save the Date

NCBL will be celebrating 80 years of service in 2019!  Stay tuned for more information on how you can celebrate with us!

coffee and snacks

The hospitality committee needs volunteers to bring food for the February and March program meetings.  Please email Cindy Still at stillcj@aim.com if you can help and indicate which month and what you can bring.  Suggestions include coffee cake, fruit, deviled eggs, cheese plate, donuts, muffins, egg dishes or other items.  Home made and store bought are welcome!  


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Welcome Our New Member!

Karen Johnson
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If you know of any member who is ill, hospitalized or has lost a loved one, please let Libby Butterworth or any of the 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

Annual Appeal 2019

The Annual Appeal Committee has been busy preparing for the 2019 Annual Appeal.  We plan to send over 6,800 envelopes to local residences, and it couldn't be done without your assistance.  Due to the fabulous turnout of our members, the Stuffing Party was a huge success.  The next phase is "bag" distribution for addressing envelopes.   We will be distributing volunteer bags at the next NCBL meeting on Wednesday, January 9 at the New Canaan Nature Center.  All bags can be returned at the following NCBL meeting on February 6.  Volunteers will be emailed a reminder on Friday, January 4.  If you need to make other arrangements for pick up or drop off, you can respond to the email at that time.  A big thank you to all the volunteers in the past and future for making the Annual Appeal a success!

Any questions can be emailed to Rose Bauersfeld at rbauersfeld@yahoo.com.


South Avenue / Gerdes Road

Joan Hayenga, Brian Hollstein, David and Sara Hunt, Faith Kerchoff, and Kathy Lapolla planted the South Avenue/Gerdes Road triangle with Red Gnome dogwood (Cornus alba 'Regnzam') this fall.  These shrubs will grow to about 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall and will bloom late spring with white flowers on bright red branches.  What a lovely choice to plant on this triangle that already sports a bright red "Welcome to New Canaan" sign!

Gerdes and South avenue dogwood
Two views of the new dogwood shrubs at the South Avenue / Gerdes Road triangle.


Lee Garden Report

Winter is a great time for taking walks at Lee Garden.  If you happen to travel our woodland paths, feel free to pick up fallen sticks and remove the dead leaves from the azaleas.  Watch for group walks in early spring as the ephemerals start to come alive.

On a recent walk, one of our members spotted a lot of activity near the bridge.  A flock of robins were eating the winterberry fruit from the shrubs in that area.

Robin in winterberry Lee
A robin in the winterberry in December at Lee Garden.


Brightening the Days at Waveny Care Center

Our league brightened the days of the Waveny Care Center residents with dining room table arrangements in December.  This completes our service commitment until June.  Reflecting on the past months of service, Chairperson, Betsy Bilus writes:

I want to thank all the volunteers who shared their flower-arranging talents with the Waveny Care Center to make beautiful centerpieces for the dining room and other areas of the center.  Your efforts were warmly appreciated by the residents and staff.  What a lovely way to beautify our New Canaan community!  Thank you to those who helped this past season:   Eileen Boehme,  Judy Gilroy,  Faith Kerchoff,  Liz Kunz,  Megan Morales,  Liz Orteig,  Amy Reid,  Bianca Romano,  Betsy Sammarco,  Margo Sisson, 
Anne Tropeano, and  Susan Weatherley.

We will have a few more chances to participate in this fun and gratifying service project in June.  I will circulate a sign-up sheet in May.

Thanks to all!  Betsy Bilus

Judy Gilroy arrangements
Judy Gilroy used live, faux, and dried flowers in festive combinations for her December arrangements.

Betsy Bilus Megan Morales arrangement
Betsy Bilus and Megan Morales made nine of these sweet winter arrangements for the dining tables.

Waveny Liz Kunz
Liz Kunz helped the residents ring in the New Year with the arrangements she made at the end of December.

Shopping at Against the Grain

Members and residents came to a shopping event at Against the Grain and made some great purchases for the holidays.  There were unique bowls, cutting boards, bird houses, games and gadgets, and so much more.  It was a wonderful time and we are so appreciative of Against the Grain for donating a portion of their sales to NCBL that evening.

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Cindy Bamatter, Carolin Buttrick, Carol Seldin, Faith Kerchoff, Karen Sneirson, Chris Meier (owner of  Against the Grain), and Lisa Ferrante.

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Barbara Beall, Libby Butterworth, Neen (from Against the Grain), Sara Hunt, Karen and Peter Hanson, and Chris Meier (owner of Against the Grain).

Members Nancy Geller, Barbara Wilson, and Betsy Sammarco met at Copia Home and Garden to take a class on making a winter porch pot from cut greens and natural elements.  Jenn Cipriano, owner of Copia and NCBL member, taught the group of over 20 eager participants.

Porch Pot at Copia
(left) Jenn Cipriano teaches the group the basics of creating a porch pot. 
(center) Nancy and Barbara pose behind Nancy's creation.
(right) Barbara and her lovely pot.

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Forcing Bulbs

After hearing how easy it is to force bulbs into flowering in the winter, Betsy Sammarco gave it a try and Jeanne Piscitello gave a helpful tip of her own:

I had listened to a podcast recently about how easy it is to force bulbs and bring flowers into your home during winter, so I decided to give it a try.  I bought paperwhite bulbs (Narcissus papyraceus) at Copia Home and Garden.  I looked for containers that would allow the bulbs' roots to be submerged in water while keeping most of the bulb above water.  I found a small jelly jar and a graduated cylinder at home, and bought a perfectly shaped vase from the New Canaan Thrift Shop for just one dollar.

Forcing Bulbs
You can find many containers to hold your bulbs right at home.  The bulbs at day one (left) and after five days (right).

The stems, flowers, and leaves grew tall and became floppy and top heavy, so I tied them with thin twine to help sturdy them.  It took only eleven days for the paperwhites to start blooming.  Besides tying with twine, the only maintenance the bulbs needed were a change of water from time to time.  This was very easy and I can't wait to try hyacinth bulbs next! - Betsy

Forcing Bulbs trio
As the stems grew, they were tied with twine to keep them neat and sturdy (left).
The flowers at two weeks (center) and at 17 days (right).

Jeanne Piscitello has a neat trick for forcing paperwhites.  To keep them from getting tall and lanky, she adds 1 ounce vodka to 7 ounces water (in a 1 cup measure) when she waters them.  It stunts the growth of the stems, so the stems are shorter, but the flowers emerge beautiful and full.

You can learn more about forcing bulbs through the links below:

Tovah Martin talks to Margaret Roach about her book Embracing Every Season and forcing bulbs in the podcast A Way to Garden.  Forcing hyacinths indoors happens at the 10:00 mark.  Find the podcast HERE.

Find a quick and easy summary about forcing bulbs from HGTV by clicking 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! 


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The Arboretum is hosting a Backyard Gardening Series with a speaker every month.  Click HERE and scroll to see the list of speakers.

Professional Landscaper Classes at Bartlett:  Click HERE for more info.

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Coming in February at the Hartford Convention Center:
April in Paris Flower Show
Click HERE for more info.