In the News!

 Norwalk Green goes red, white and blue 

By Leslie Lake, published May 24, 2017

ErikTrautmann_Green_May17a

Photo by Erik Trautmann/Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK — In what has become a pre-Memorial Day tradition, members of the Norwalk Garden Club planted locally grown red, white and blue flowers on the Norwalk Green.  More than 20 of the 40 club members gathered Wednesday morning to place more than 500 red and white geraniums and blue ageratum around the gazebo, flagpole and monument.  “This is something the garden club has done every year on the Wednesday before Memorial Day,” said garden club co-president Rosanne Scallion. “We are out here, rain or shine.”  The planting initiative is a partnership between the Garden Club and the First District Water Department, and the club has been planting on the green annually since 1977.

Since its inception in 1924, the nonprofit Norwalk Garden Club has partnered with city departments to beautify areas throughout the city.  The flowers on the green were grown in the 20-by-40-foot Wolfpit Avenue greenhouse of hobbyist Jerry Grimaldi.  “I’ve been doing this for the water company for 40 years,” Grimaldi said. “This is a hobby for me. I start the flowers from cuttings in February. These flowers take a lot of attention, but I enjoy doing it.”

Once the flowers are in the ground, they are maintained throughout the summer by Garden Club members.  “We deadhead the flowers all summer — that’s a tough job,” Scallion said. “But it’s a very rewarding community service. Wait until you see what it looks like when it’s all done.”  For Grimaldi, the fruits of his labor provide a summer-long delight.  “I love to see them there when I drive by,” he said. “The Garden Club takes very good care of them.”

In addition to the green planting, the Garden Club tends to the Adopt-A-Spot at Park and Wall Streets, indoor plants and outdoor garden at the Norwalk Public Library, and the spring planting at the East Norwalk Historic Cemetery and Elderhouse. It also provides Christmas wreaths for local municipal and historic buildings. In honor of the club’s 90th anniversary in 2014, members recreated the gardens of the early 18th century at the Mill Hill historic buildings.  The mission of the Norwalk Garden Club is to “Stimulate the love and knowledge of gardening and flower arranging … to encourage civic planting and beautification for the enjoyment of all citizens of Norwalk.”

The annual Memorial Day Parade will be held on Monday, starting at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park. The parade ends on the town green.

llake@hearstmediact.com

_____________________________________________

Colonial Garden planted in Mill Hill Historic Park in Norwalk 

By KIM DEVINE  Hour Intern, published June 12, 2015

NORWALK — Tucked behind the preserved Norwalk Town House, the newly planted four quadrant Colonial garden is a welcome addition to Mill Hill Historic Park.  According to Norwalk Garden Club president Jan Broome, visitors will experience a theme in each of the four quadrants based on plant usage from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Plants are categorized by aromatic, economic, culinary, and medicinal usage.

“When elementary school students come to tour, they will be able to smell, feel the texture, and fully experience plants from this time period,” Broome said.

Along with this new addition to the Mill Hill Complex, visitors will experience Norwalk’s history through the site’s burial ground and the three buildings currently available for touring. The town house, which was built in 1835 and served as a gathering place for special groups, is accompanied on the land by Governor Thomas Fitch’s Law Office and the Downtown District Schoolhouse. Both the Norwalk Garden Club and Norwalk Historical Society will be maintaining the garden, which was planted Friday by volunteers from both organizations and a crew from David Westmoreland and Mike Mushak’s Tuliptree Site Designs.

“This partnership is perfect for us, ” Norwalk Garden Club member and chair of the Mill Hill site collaboration Joanne Hughes said. “We have a lovely club of about 45 members, and almost all of them opted to be on this committee. We love working on this site.”

The Mill Hill Master Plan was initiated in 2011, but according to Norwalk Historic Commissioner Chairman David Westmoreland, the park has already undergone a transformation. “We have made great progress from last year. This area used to be a parking lot,” Westmoreland said, gesturing to the front of the garden. “We also removed invasive trees so you can now see the harbor. We have lots of plans to improve the hillside and continue the project.”

Among these plans include the instalation of benches, the formation of a designated “history walk,” the continuation of renovations of the other buildings on the site — including the former Department of Public Works building and the former city jail — and the installation of interpretive signage which will allow tourists to get a sense of Norwalk’s history when the buildings are closed. The collaborative forces of the Garden Club and Historical Society also hope to improve the parking lot and front steps for easier access to the hill.Millhill2015plntg

Mill Hill Historical Park is located at 2 East Ave. For more information, call (203) 846-0525 or emailinfo@norwalkhistoricalsociety.org.

____________________________________________________________________________

Norwalk Garden Club’s patriotic annual civic planting

by SARAH QUAGLIARIELLO of the Hour, published May 21, 2015

NORWALK — The women of the Norwalk Garden Club brought out their gloves, trowels, and planters, and crowded the Norwalk Green for their annual civic planting on Wednesday. For over 50 years, members of the club have been brightening up the Norwalk Green with an abundance of red, white, and blue flowers, every year right before Memorial Day weekend. “It’s really just beautification. It adds value to the community and gives the public something to enjoy,” Jan Broome, the president of the club, said. “And we’ll be here every week through the end of September deadheading and weeding in order to keep it that way.”

The flowers surrounding the canon, flagpole, and gazebo consist of red and white geraniums and blue ageratums, which, according to club member Noreen Normand “are about as patriotic as you can get,” and a great way to prepare the town for Memorial Day celebrations.      Green - cannon

The club, which has been active for over 90 years, consists of 47 members who actively participate in community plantings in locations all over town, including Elderhouse on Park Street, the Adopt-a-Spot divider on the corner of East Avenue and Park Street, the Main Library, and the East Norwalk Historical Cemetery. They are preparing to decorate around the Lockwood Mansion with planters next week. “I’ve also already designed the colonial herb garden for the Mill Hill,” Broome said.

For more information on the club and its upcoming meetings and events, as well as plenty of gardening tips, visit www.norwalkgardenclub.com.

Norwalk Garden Club Continues Support of Mill Hill   by Joanne Hughes,  

Posted in the Norwalk Hour  –   September 26, 2014

Looking back, it is apparent that our Norwalk Garden Club has been involved with or committed to the site at Mill Hill Historic Park for years and years.  The obvious importance of the property is that it is so dedicated to its historical heritage. This has intrigued early members of our club as well as today’s members. In our archives, going back to 1924, many photos have been found showing our cooperation in the improvement of this lovely setting and its architecture. In the accompanying photo we see NGC members in 1974 planting crocus on the front lawn of the Townhouse. Don’t those women look current and fashionable even now? If you know anyone in this picture, contact our website at www.norwalkgardenclub.com; leave their name and yours. We’ll include it next column.

Mill Hill has just been chosen as the site of our 90th Anniversary Memorial Grant. The membership voted at the meeting in May to fund an engraved bench and platform showing the 90th designation and the club name. An appropriate place for the bench will be found, while adding our desired three dogwood trees and a variety of ornamental bushes as part of the grant. Our NGC committee members, who have volunteered to establish a Colonial Herb Garden there, hope that the bench will be near that garden. Given the impetus of the Norwalk Historical Commission and Society, this all comes together as the architects, engineers, and landscape designers work to render the site ADA accessible for those who need help in enjoying the grounds and buildings. Parking will be improved, too. Diane Jellerette, Mill Hill Historical Society executive director, started the cooperative effort with our club last year. What a pleasure she is to work with as is David Westmoreland and Erik Anderson.

Jazzing Up Our Gardens

How, you ask? “By Color, Sound and Movement!” So said our excellent speaker in September at the first meeting of our new year. And then she proved it. Karen Bussolini, author, photographer, and garden coach, spoke to us at our meeting place, the Gallaher Mansion at Cranbury Park. And did she give us a show! Her beautiful hand gestures were enough to please us and capture our attention, but her knowledge of plants and techniques to spice up our gardens was just spectacular at the same time.  Bussolini told the audience of 35 members and guests that “Your garden should reflect your own personal taste.” She said: “Use repeat plants, self-sowing varieties, or colors that are alike, e.g., orange in a pot, a red tree, a yellow bush.” She gave us so many great alternatives. Her beautiful photos included: the All-Silver Plants at Farmingdale University; the garden that takes its colors from a Martha Yazzie Navajo Rug; the incredible Tulip Gardens at the New York Botanical Garden each spring; the Bellamy-Ferraday House and Garden in Connecticut that features old roses.  She asked us to become aware of the background for flowers, knowing some will “only look good in front of a snowbank” while others need “deep green behind them to make the yellow shine,” she says. Some basic plants that backstop others are lamb’s ear, the money plant with its shimmery and silvery leaves, and various ornamental grasses. Now, I have to interject my personal bias about grasses.

In my former garden club, I chaired a committee of six women who had responsibility for three sign gardens at the entrances to the Town. Even though I had researched the grasses chosen by the group for their sedge characteristics (whether they would spread too much) and had been reassured by the nurseryman that they were safe, in one year they overtook most of the flowers. We had to pull them up and out. So be careful with your grasses.  In summary, Bussolini explained that gardens not only give pleasure to our floral taste but they also create mood, demonstrate movement, and excite the imagination with the vast number of varieties. Her presentation gave us so much food for thought immediately and for future gardens we might create. We look forward to one day visiting Karen Bussolini’s own Garden in South Kent, which will show us all of her recommendations in full bloom. Her website is kbgarden@charter.net. Her closing words to us were: “Hey, it’s supposed to be fun!” She made it so!

Suggestions & Events

First, thanks to President Jan Broome and all NGC members who worked the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion annual Flea Market last Sunday. Jackie Albert’s tent for our club made quite a hit as did the NGC donations for the cause. Second, our Adopt-a-Spot Chair, Gail Stevens, told us about two new approaches used this year that had made the committee’s work much easier: the use of xeriscape plants like Golden Barberry reduced watering and a fish fertilizer (emulsion) improved growth and hardiness.  Laura Fanzilli, our “Greens” Chair, remarked that the geraniums at the Gazebo, the Flagpole, and the Cannon were extraordinary this summer. This was due to nature, fertilizer, and the generous deadheading, watering, and weeding of our hard-working large committee of NGC volunteers who labored from May to early September.  I didn’t do it this year. My dear friend, Marian Ainsworth, who always volunteers for just about everything, gently told me how I should be deadheading the flowers. When I remonstrated that I had arthritis and couldn’t reach down to pull the stalks at the bases, the other ladies in the group and Marian forgave me future duties. We all care for each other, especially Marian.

On Oct. 8, NGC will have our Pot Luck Luncheon. While it’s members-only, the November meeting that follows on Wednesday, the 12th will be wonderful for us and any guest who can come to the Gallaher Mansion. More about that in next month’s column. Lastly, we met last week at Gaye Seymour’s home and continued the year-long work on crafts for our upcoming December 6 Annual Christmas Fair at the Cranbury Chapel. Do plan to stop by then to see the hand-made and homemade crafts, cookies, and wreaths. It’s a holiday joy of celebration!

_____________________________________________________________________Autumn flowers

“I’m not that good a gardener.”  That’s OK  by Joanne Hughes, posted August 29, 2014

As a New York newcomer five years ago, I saw with fresh eyes the nature of this alive New England City. The diverse languages I heard, the direct inheritors of founding families, the different people of color, the children from all over the world: These were flowing together without hesitation or discrimination. It was a great pleasure to experience. It was truly America at its best.

Years ago, when I had originally moved to upstate New York from Long Island, I came to know families directly descended from those who had also emigrated in the 1700’s. I found that thrilling — to be able to know someone whose ancestors had pioneered this very land; to know how hard they worked to care for their families while building sanctuary for others who would come and succeed.

Now here in Norwalk in 2014, I’m amazed again to find so many descendants of the founding families. Three of our members include Gaye Seymour, whose husband Lee Seymour is a direct descendant of that old Connecticut name, and Betsy Kondub and her sister Jeanne Brown trace their ancestry back to the the Betts Family and the first minister here, Reverend Hanford.

Interested in Norwalk Garden Club?

When I arrived to Norwalk in 2008, the first thing I did was look for a garden club to join. Since I had been in a Cornwall-on-Hudson Garden Club for 14 years, I knew how helpful and fun it was be part of one. And I was lonesome for my friends back in Cornwall.  I looked and looked and didn’t find the club that I knew had to be in Norwalk. Just look at the gardens and the flowers in town! Finally, there it was, in the The Hour Newspaper — an invitaion to observe the Norwalk Garden Club at a monthly meeting. Betsy Kondub and Gaye Seymour were and are co-chairs of membership. The women were so nice and so welcoming. I went and asked to sign up right away. And I’ve never been disappointed. Come and take a peek. You might like what you find on Wednesday, Sept. 10th.

While right now we’re off for the summer, you’re welcome to come see us in the fall, at our first new-year meeting on September 10, (always the second Wednesday in each month) at the Gallaher Mansion at Cranbury Park on Grumman Avenue.  Each meeting has a special presentation that always begins at 1:20 p.m. This Wednesday, it will be a program called “Jazzing Up Your Garden with Color, Contrast, and Movement.” The speaker will be Karen Bussolini, who is a photographer, author, and garden coach.

We might add that Norwalk residency is not necessary for membership in our club. The requirements are so simple: attend at least three meetings annually, take an active role in the May Plant Sale, the December Craft Fair, and serve on a committee of her/his choice. There are reasonable dues and no discrimination of any kind. Now I know what you might be saying: “Oh, I’m not that good a gardener;” “I don’t garden much now since I moved to a condo;” or “Are they like a clique, unwilling to accept new people?”  The answer to all of this is the same: none of that is a problem. All guests and members are welcomed and encouraged. Perhaps the better question is “Will I make new friends and learn something new and interesting?” That answer to that is a resounding YES! See our website at www.norwalkgardenclub.com

A good idea:  Just drop by on that Wednesday to get a sense of the women who are members. They’re a friendly lot, task oriented and quick to laugh. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener, nor a horticulturist, nor a crafter for the Craft Fair. I’m none of those things, and I love it. We all like women who are willing to learn from the monthly speakers and to pitch in at Christmas to do what’s needed as long as they are able to do so. Politics is not discussed. No one cares how much money you have or how big your house is. Are you pleasant and open to ideas? Great, that’s all it takes.

A Bouquet

Speaking of lovely people, I want to thank our new president, Jan Broome, for her kindness to me. If you go to our website at www.norwalkgardenclub.com, “Webmaster” Jan has put a note to me with a picture, thanking me for writing these columns I have so loved sharing with you. Well, I’ve got to say, that just thrilled me and delighted my family with whom I shared the website information.

President Broome is such an asset to our Club and we are so pleased to have her lead us. She’s a Master Gardener, former G.C. Recording Secretry, volunteer at the Bartlett Arboretum, business woman with a family, and co-chair of the proposed Mill Hill Colonial Herb Garden.

Images of the Long Island Sound:

Sunsparkles frolic from wave to wave —

Thousands of crystals dance.

Constantly changing, endlessly moving.

Water gems fill the eyes.

A talented hand has created this bliss,

The Maker of water and light.

These waterborne treasures reflect God’s Love —

They are jewelry for the soul.

________________________________________________________________

Article below posted in the Norwalk Hour Friday, July 25, 2014

Here’s looking at you, Norwalk Garden Club  by Joanne Hughes

We all hope you will take a moment to enjoy the Norwalk Green gardens planted in early spring by Norwalk Garden Club members with the cooperation of the First District Water Authority. The geraniums really took off this year, probably because of all the rain and good selection by our VP Laura Fanzilli and her committee.  As you pass our Norwalk Garden Club Adopt-a-Spot on the corner of Park St. and E. Wall St., you might also notice that each month there is a different plant accessory, placed by different members of the Committee. Flags, stars, brightwork — all sparkle in their own way.

I mentioned in an earlier column that I had visited my family in Seattle, Washington in April. That garden state is not only remarkable in the hundreds of tulip fields that lay 60 miles north of Seattle in Skagit County, which flower each April, but also in their incredible landscaping displays. In Here's looking at you, Norwalk Garden Clubthose gardens are the most beautiful plant accessories I’ve ever seen. Spires of deeply colored glass gleam against their green and bushy backgrounds; wind-spinner “hot air” balloons pull attention toward a quiet corner; cobalt blue globes glow next to a stand of lavender: all are dramatizing already beautiful gardens. Let’s try a piece of this Art in our own gardens.

Interested Members:  Let me tell you a little about some of our NGC members of whom I’m so proud. They are participants in other area service- and craft-oriented organizations as well as garden club. For example, eight or nine members meet to quilt pieces of art in a quilting group, often displaying them at Mill Hill Historic Townhouse and libraries. Many of our members are involved in AARP meetings, hospital volunteering, and in the Norwalk Women’s Club. Several work hard at STAR in Norwalk. Of course, their work in our local churches and charities make a real difference in improving quality of life for others. NGC women are thriving while giving generously to those around them.  This spring we were especially proud of quilter Gaye Seymour, our Membership Chair, who received awards in three rounds of honors with her large and beautiful quilt: First Prize in the Norwalk Women’s Club, First Prize and Best In Show in Fairfield County, and Second Prize in Quilting in the State of Connecticut. The quilt will be a gift for a member of Gaye’s family.

Frustrated at Non-Producing Plants?  Is there a corner of your lawn or a spot in the landscaping out front that fails to produce unless you water and water over and over? Well, think about going to a beach like Jones Beach on Long Island or the entrance to Calf Pasture Beach. What will you see there? Beach roses and certain varieties of plants which don’t seem to need watering. Visit California and you will learn about the Art of Xeriscaping. which is simply choosing plants which use little water for their nourishment.

Like to learn? Here are nine perennial possibilities for you to try: Golden Barberry bushes (small), Autumn Joy Sedum, Australian Carpet Roses, Yellow Day Lilies, Coneflowers, Daisies, Black-Eyed Susan, Potentilla, and Boston Ivy. Some are in our Adopt-a-Spot. See them at the corner of East Wall and Park near the Green. You’ll be a water conservationist, too.

Bee Sting?  A friend of a member, Liz Basler, has made a very unusual suggestion. She says that before you run off to the doctor to fix a bee or hornet sting, tape a copper penny over the wound and wait 15 minutes. Liz reported the pain went away and so did the sting site. She had tried it and it worked for her. As my aunt used to say: “Try it. It couldn’t hurt.” Let us know your reaction.

Reunions:  Many of our members are sharing their enjoyment of a recent anniversary reunion for their high schools or colleges. While they are almost unanimous at their pleasure at having gone, they often express a little reluctance about going initially, given their changes in appearance and some memories they have. So, too, does the attached poem on the same subject.

High School Reunion  by Jennifer Kern

The invitation came in the mail, like an advertisement

For an exhibit of artifacts from another age, a past life,

Not the one where I was a Spanish courtesan or the Persian mystic

But the one where I was tongue-tied and hardly knew myself,

That age when uncertainty and insecurity pulled up a stool

Each morning to watch me dress and fix my hair,

From that period during which I thought I could reinvent myself

As someone not shy, bold even, but wound up instead

Courting a stomach ache and a sense of dread each morning

At the Fletcher Street exit in front of the school.

Later, I boiled down high school like jam canned at the end of

Summer, and sealed it up, hot and pungent, with paraffin

With a tight-fitting metal rim. I mopped my brow and shut the

Memories in a pantry to grow dusty and unreliable.

The invitation sits and draws attention to itself

With its bone-tired air of expected disappointment,

A salesman hawking nostalgia, sure he will have no buyers

But we are both surprised when I entertain the offer.

Joanne Hughes is a member of the Norwalk Garden Club. The Club is a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc. and Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. This column will appear periodically in The Hour this year as the club celebrates its 90th year.

_____________________________________________________________

Posted in the Norwalk Hour Friday, June 27, 2014 3:15 pm, written by Joanne Hughes

NORWALK GARDEN CLUB CELEBRATES 90 YEARS — “and a Good time was had by all!”  

Honored guests and 35 Norwalk Garden Club members enjoyed a Formal Tea and entertainment celebrating the anniversary of the club from 1924 to 2014.Norwalk Garden Club celebrates 90 years -- 

Happy memories abounded in the light-filled Patio Room at the Norwalk Inn. There were pretty dresses and hats, the long-ago scrapbooks and artifact exhibits on screens, (many from The Hour dating back to 1924), delicious little tea sandwiches and cakes, and so much laughter at the entertainment. That entertainment presented a professional actress explaining Victorian manners and customs while dressing in layer after layer of a final gorgeous outfit replete with hat, gloves and parasol.

Earlier, in welcoming remarks, President Janet Valus expressed sincere appreciation for the long service of several of our members, for all the hard work done to present this event and for the club members’ overall effort on so many club projects. She further noted that even though world events might be extremely difficult, there will always be garden clubs to promote beautification, conservation, and neighborliness as it has been since our club’s founding 90 years ago.

In addition, we were honored to welcome U. S. Congressman Jim Himes, D-4, and his Constituent Service Representative, Gloria DePina, who both visited with the members. Ralph Bloom from the Friends of the Museum traded laughs with some board members. State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-143, came to graciously greet the ladies. David Westmoreland, Chairman of the Norwalk Historical Commission, spoke with Jan Broome, board member, about their joint plans for Mill Hill Historical site Colonial Herb Garden. Joanne Hughes told Chris Bosak, co-managing editor of The Hour, how much the club appreciated his support of all the garden clubs in the Fairfield County area and the longtime generosity of The Hour to our garden club, publishing our photos and articles for so many years.

Most appreciated by all members was Chris Bradley, director of the Norwalk Public Library, who was asked by the Victorian Actress to help her with putting on some of the garments. She was dressed at this time in three successive layers of nineteenth-century clothing. Chris was such a good sport, particularly when the garment was a 1800’s corset, gathered over those layers of clothing. Sally D’Amato, former president of the NGC, had to grab the second cord to help pull it tight. As expected, the audience found all of this hilarious. Indeed, a very good time was had by all.

Norwalk Garden Club’s New Officers:

Days after our anniversary celebration, the members met at Archivist Barbara Thompson’s beautiful home for a final meeting of this year. Outgoing President Janet Valus called the group to order and votes were cast. After which the new officers were announced: President Jan Broome, First Vice President Laura Fanzilli, Treasurer Jackie Albert, Recording Secretary Janet Valus, and Corresponding Secretary Sally D’Amato. Warm appreciation was extended to the outgoing Board Officers: Janet Valus, Paula Golob, Laura Fanzilli, Jan Broome, Noreen Normand, and Frances Mansager. After the applause and congratulations were over, the group enjoyed a social hour.

That morning before the meeting, members and guests had enjoyed a Garden Tour of the lovely Ridgefield Garden of Ideas. First VP Paula Golob had organized the trip. The group found the selection of flora to be creative and imaginative while the arrangement of garden rooms and plants created a sense of peace and serenity. The members really liked the experience. Drive up and see for yourself..

Ikebana History:

Early this spring, our Garden Club Member Carol Schor gave an informative and quite lovely presentation on the Japanese Art of Ikebana. Recently we discovered that Ikebana has long been valued in the Norwalk Garden Club. As we continued to research for our 90th year, we found that there have been other club experts in this art. Mrs. Byron Williams, the pretty woman in the 1975 photograph in an earlier issue of The Hour, has been further identified by her daughter, who kept many of her trophies and photographs. She shared them with Board Member Noreen Normand. Her winning red ribbon is in the Norwalk Library display case during June.

Be sure to drop by the Library to see those two display cases that Barbara Thompson, Nancy LeFort, Mary Beth Hamilton, Jackie Heinrich, and Carol Schor decorated. They are a great working team which produced a lovely presentation of the “Then and Now” of our 90 years.

Norwalk’s Beautiful Iris:

This June has been so colorful in Norwalk with plantings of iris in so many colors, but particularly the deep purple variety. I read that this lovely flower was named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Greek men planted iris on the graves of their beloved as a tribute to the goddess, who supposedly then transported the women’s souls to the Elysian fields, the abode of the blessed after death.

A Summer Poem: Summer Talk

The round little island juts out from the shore,

Sharing secrets with trees bending in.

A sailboat drifts by bemused and intrigued

By the shivers of gossipy leaves.

Joanne Hughes is a member of the Norwalk Garden Club. The Club is a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc. and Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. This column will appear periodically in The Hour this year as the club celebrates its 90th year. www.norwalkgardenclub.com

_________________________________________________________

Norwalk Garden Club celebrates 90 years with luncheon  by Alex von Kleydorff

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:01 am Hour Staff Report     Himes2 at tea

NORWALK –Invited dignitaries and members alike honored the 90 years of the Norwalk Garden Club with a tea luncheon Wednesday at Norwalk Inn & Conference Center. The event celebrated the anniversary from 1924 to 2014, marking 90 years of community service and beautification.

Joining in the celebration were U.S. Congressman Jim Himes, D-4, David Westmoreland of the Norwalk Historical Commission, Ralph Bloom from the Friends of the Museum, State Rep. Gail Lavelle, R-143, Chris Bradley of the Norwalk Public Library, and Chris Bosak from The Hour Newspaper. Special thanks was given to The Hour for the 90 years of coverage and a display board of past articles was set up in the room.

The welcome, spoken by the club’s president Janet Valus, thanked the dignitaries who had come, recognized the members who have spent 13 to 43 years in the club, and praised Noreen Normand, chair of the committees that had worked to bring about the successful luncheon and artifact exhibits.

Valus also stressed that no matter how conditions change in the world environs, there would always be garden clubs to continue beautification, conservation, civic improvement and fellowship — as it has been since the beginning of this particular garden club.

Centerpieces crafted by member Marian Ainsworth dotted the tables as participants enjoyed a Formal Tea Luncheon. Some of the women wore hats reminiscent of earlier eras. The history of the group was summarized in a booklet written by Valus that included the 12 founding members: Mrs. George C. Lockwood, Mrs. Philip Knapp, Mrs. Seymour Curtis, Mrs. Edmund Sims, Mrs. George C. Chambliss, Mrs. Henry W. Gregory, Mrs. James H. Hall, Mrs. Charles Rogers, Mrs. Louis Lehmaier, Miss Laura Hilliard, Miss Sally S. Betts, Mrs. John K. V. Agnew.

By-Laws from May 21, 1924, read: “The object of the Garden Club of Norwalk shall be to stimulate the love and knowledge of gardening of amateurs, to share the advantages of association, to aid in the protection of native plants and to encourage civic planting.”

Today’s garden club donates wreaths to municipal and civic buildings each Christmas, plants annual flowers on the Green every spring, plants and maintains the Adopt-a-Spot at East Wall Street, keeps the sculpture/indoor gardens at the Norwalk Library, proposes a colonial herb garden at Mill Hill Historic site next fall, and other projects.

The club is open to anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of nature, to work on civic projects of beautification, and to find friends who love gardening and learning. It is a 501c3 and a member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc. and the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut.

_________________________________________________________________

Poppies are the flowers of Remembrance   by Joanne Hughes

posted May 23, 2014, the Norwalk Hour

May is always a busy month for our members of the Norwalk Garden Club. Our primary reaction has been the deep enjoyment of seeing Norwalk gardens blooming so beautifully, especially the

Gaye and Lee 2014amazing numbers of flowering trees: everything from cherry to plum to magnolia to redbud and finally to dogwood. The hundreds of forsythia bushes picked up where the daffodils left off in early May. Did you take a trip this spring to see the glorious dogwood-filled streets and avenues in Greenfield Hills in Fairfield County? Years ago, many neighbors decided to plant pink and white dogwood trees near the roadways. The result is amazing. Isn’t it great when a community pulls together to accomplish such a treasure?

Winners among us:  Gaye Seymour is our NGC craft committee chair, membership chair with Betsy Kondub, and the wife of Lee Seymour, the grand marshal of the Memorial Day Parade in Norwalk. Lee is a former Marine, long-time Norwalk builder, and hails from the Seymour Founding Family. Who could be a better choice for this honor? In our judgment, there is no one more suited.

Enjoy your municipal gardens.  The summer annuals are planted at the Green, ringing the flagpole, the cannon, and finding a new home near the gazebo. The adopt-a-spot is rising from the winter snows, more lovely than ever and with a changing plant accessory each month. The circular garden surrounding the sculpture at the Norwalk Public Library is in place joining its indoor cousins at that historic building. While NGC cares for the plants, a library volunteer named Greta, does most of the watering inside the Library for 10 months of the year. Obviously, we want her as a new member!

Of course, our best outpouring of spirit to the community is the Annual Plant Sale on May 31 in the parking lot at the corner of Park Street and E. Wall Street across the street from East Avenue intersection. At the same time, the Friends of the Museum Tag Sale will be available. Come on down! It’s a really nice event from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., earlier if everything is gone.

Hint for your Easter lily:                                                    Library May 2014

Before I forget to mention it, there was a terrific article in a Sunday insert from The Hour by Steve Wargo telling us all how to care for our Easter Lilies at the end of the season. His practical advice was this: to extend the life of the lily, pluck off the six little stems full of pollen in the middle of the flower; when stems die, cut back to soil level (don’t worry, they’ll sprout again in four weeks); dig a big hole and plop the remaining bulb and green plant into it; give it morning sun and occasional watering. Then look forward to next spring.

A Memorial Day Memory:  Plants tell nations’ war stories: club member Patricia Taylor’s daughter sent us a clipping from her California newspaper. It lists the plants connected to past historical events. For example, Yarrow, found in our Adopt-a-Spot, was used to stop bleeding by Roman soldiers; the purple berries of Poke Weed were used as ink by soldiers in the Civil War; the Battle of Flanders (WWI) found a great scarcity of cloth to cover wounds; so the petals of the Calendula flowers were used; thousands of scarlet Poppy flowers grew and covered the blood-soaked fields of Flanders the year after the Armistice was signed. These are surely different applications than our pretty backyard flower gardens.

These uses of plants elicit sadness and admiration for those who served with such valor in all these battles. This poem echoes the tragedy of war and the beauty of nature.

In Flanders Fields  

By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

_____________________________________________________________________

Springtime for the Norwalk Garden Club  by Joanne Hughes posted May 2, 2014

Is it possible? Has spring actually arrived? Perhaps, a little late, but after that winter, we’ll forgive a little tardiness, especially as the bright heads of crocus, snowdrops, globe hyacinth, and daffodils, hundreds of daffodils, arise to enliven our Norwalk views.

I’ll believe it’s spring when I see the tulips in full colorful array. Incidentally, as I began to write this column for the Norwalk Garden Club, I asked my husband, Edward: “How do you spell daffodil, one L or two?” He answered as the smarty pants he’s always been: “I don’t know, I never ate one.”  Last week, we had the great pleasure of visiting our daughter, Jennifer and her family, in Seattle, Washington. They’re recently moved there since our son-in-law, Steve, now works for the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. He travels the world to find a Pediatric Malaria Cure.

While we were in Washington, Jennifer, Ed and I drove 60 miles north of the city to marvel at the Springtime for the Norwalk Garden Clubhundreds and hundreds of acres of tulips planted for their bulbs, traditionally blooming from April 1 to 30. The photo above is one of many taken of this rich beauty in our own land. Next year, try to take a trip to that remarkable state to see nature really showing off. I thought I had to go to Holland to see such breathtaking floral fields.

The Tree Alliance  On May 17, tree-loving neighbors will be gathering together to inform and delight themselves about the ways and means to conserve and respect the extraordinary plant life here on the shores of the Long Island Sound. This annual event joins organizations and clubs which are building awareness of the beauty of and the need for care of our trees, flowers, and gardens at home and in general. Watch the TO DO listing in The Hour for time and date.

Planting on the Green   Every year since well before 1975, the women of the Norwalk Garden Club have beautified the lovely park between East Avenue and West Rocks. The Green, as it’s called, is surrounded by the quintessential Connecticut churches, buildings and gracious charm of this New England glory. At its southeast end, the 18th century Mill Hill Historic property stands to verify the positive reaction of those observing. So, on May 21, watch as the members join with the overseers and maintenance people who keep the Green perfect as they plant the summer flowers at the cannon, the flagpole, and at the Gazebo. Come on down, grab a shovel and get a hug.

Our Annual Plant Sale   Later in the month, on May 31, the sale of our own members’ plants will be presented from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These are all locally grown and suitable for our gardens. It’s so much fun to meet the ladies who care so much for each other and nature’s bounty. Three of our group are Master Gardeners who can counsel you on just about any gardening question you might have. We’ll be at the parking lot in front of the children’s social services building at the corner of East and Wall Streets. It’s just behind our Adopt-a-Spot (which will be so pretty again this year thanks to Gail and her committee.)

You must not only check out the plant sale but visit the tag sale for the Friends of the Norwalk Museum inside the above building. Last year, I bought some delightful things for such good prices. When one has 10 grandchildren, one watches for good sales: jewelry, china, children’s books, some toys, and antique coverlets, etc. — fun to see and even more fun to select — and such a good cause.

Ninety Years of Service    Work is progressing nicely as we all prepare for our Anniversary Formal Tea Lunch on June 4 at the Norwalk Inn in celebration of our many years of service to and beautification of the community. Dignitaries have been invited and members are checking their closets for suitable dressy clothes. Barbara Thompson, our archivist, and Jackie Heinrich, new member, have reviewed all the scrapbooks from as far back as 1924 and will present them on that special day for “Ooo & Ahh!” perusal.

Chair Noreen Normand, Barbara Thompson, and Joanne Hughes are going through all collected photos and artifacts to choose those we’ll display that day and throughout June in the Norwalk Library Display case. Our other committee members look like they are enjoying the process.

Mill Hill Colonial Herb Garden  Throughout the summer, when there are no garden club meetings, our Herb Garden Committee will be working on researching and identifying those herbs and flowers used by gardeners in the 1700 to 1800’s so as to replicate them in a herb bed at the Mill Hill historic house and school on Wall St. The liason between this historic organization and our Garden Club was initiated by Diane Jellerette, Mill Hill executive director, with the approval of David Westmoreland of the Norwalk Historical Commission and former President Suzanne Betts of the Norwalk Historical Society. This cooperation between groups is very much encouraged by our national organization and the Connecticut federation of garden clubs..

A Newcomer describes the Norwalk’s Garden Club members:

As a transplant from upstate New York five years ago, I have often mentioned the fine character of the women I first met in this garden club in 2010. The other day I read a jewelry ad for a pendant with words on it. It seems to sum up what I found so attractive in most of these ladies with a life message for the rest of us. The pendant read as follows and embodies them: “Be real. Make mistakes. Say I’m sorry. Give second chances. Have fun. Forgive. Give hugs. Be patient. Love one another.”

Yes, that’s how they are to me and each other.

____________________________________________________________________

Below article posted: Friday, April 11, 2014 in The Norwalk Hour, by Joanne Hughes

Garden Club Prepares for busy season    Garden Club prepares for busy season

Isn’t the simple floral arrangement in the photograph lovely? Teaching us to create floral sculptures just like that one was the subject of our most recent Norwalk Garden Club demonstration. It was an exercise in the fine Art of Ikebana.

What is Ikebana, for heavens sake!?  Our member, Carole Schor, can tell you all about it! It was she who presented on April 9 to the Garden Club at Gallaher Mansion in Cranbury Park, Grumman Road, Norwalk, (our meeting site on the second Wednesday of most months). She is a Level Four experienced teacher of this Japanese art form for floral arrangements. Of course, it was open to the public and six guests came and enjoyed it. Several of our guests and three members won arrangements Schor had created in her demonstration.

Helpful points made during the talk included the use of a split stick (shorter than the vase) into which a slender branch can be secured under water in the vase; using small plastic ice cubes as a covering base in the arrangement bottom to hide the pin holder; cutting flower stems in a open container filled with water (that sends water up into the flower); always using flowers in odd numbers of three, five, seven, etc. in making compositions; not allowing the flowers to touch the edges of the vase, and keeping simplicity as the guide overall. As Schor followed these points, she carefully showed us what she meant.

It turns out that Ikebana has long been valued in the Norwalk Garden Club. As we continue to research for our 90th anniversary year, we’ve discovered that there have been other experts in this art. For example, in 1975 Mrs. Byron Williams won many blue ribbons in the art. She was the pretty woman on the right in the old photograph in the February 2014 issue of this column.

What’s Next for the Springtime?  May and June promise to be exceptionally busy and fun. On May 17 we will again volunteer in a Norwalk Garden Club Booth for the Tree Alliance. Last year we handed children little pots of marigolds. They were so sweet with smiles and thanks and pointing out brothers and sisters to gift. So stop by and chat. There will be planting on the Green on May 21 around the gazebo, the cannon, and the flagpole. In late May or early June, there’s a field trip. First VP Paula Golob plans all these presentations and trips with help from VP Laura Fanzilli. It’s so much fun getting out and laughing and talking with member friends — especially the laughing.

Best of All – Our Ninetieth Anniversary Celebration:  Thanks to Chair Noreen Normand and her committee, June 4 will be the most exciting event of this wonderful year. Joining together with all our members to formally celebrate our anniversary at a Tea Luncheon will be very special. It will be in the Atrium at the Norwalk Inn on East Ave. Entertainment, favors, short speeches, and an assortment of old-fashioned foods appropriate for a real sit-down Tea will be featured. A large display of our past photos and artifacts will be presented in the Inn (and in the Norwalk Library Display Case) that’s sure to send us down memory lane. Best part will be sharing this with our NGC friends and honored guests.

An Important Hint for our Gardeners:  Another piece of health-giving advice from one of our expert speakers concerns Lyme Disease. So many of our members, neighbors, and friends are suffering from this vicious sickness that any suggestions to keep us all safe is needed. Bill Duesing, an organic gardening practitioner, has told us that Barberries can be habitats for mice, which carry this disease. For those afflicted, he recommends killing the plants by cutting them in the early spring and then sealing the ends of all branches with a propane torch. Tough stuff for a gardener but perhaps really needed.

I am honored to be able to continue this column through the summer months. Many thanks to The Hour and Editor Chris Bosak for this privilege.

__________________________________________________________

Another in the series of articles written by our own Joanne Hughes and published in the Norwalk Hour! (March 21, 2014)

Norwalk Garden Club:  A Shovel and a hug    Norwalk Garden Club: A shovel and a hug

In our last Norwalk Garden Club column, we showed a photo from 1975 featuring three earlier members of the garden club. This week, we were delighted to receive an e-mail from Lisa and Leighton Haight which told us that Mrs. Byron Williams was Joan Williams, Leighton’s mother. She has passed away. Lisa wrote that her mother-in-law “loved the garden club and (they) would love to see any other pictures of her or of her award-winning floral works.”

That might be possible because in June we will have a large display in the front hall of the library. We’ll keep our eyes open.

What’s Up with Archives? Barbara Thompson, who keeps our on-going NGC photos and artifacts, is going through all our archives for the library display. Patricia Taylor, former president and board member, brought us a treasure trove of articles and photos at the March meeting at Gallaher Mansion. Everyone clustered around her when we started looking at those pictures. People were saying: “Oh, I knew her!” “Look how young she is!” “She babysat me!” “She helped with my wedding flowers.” It was very moving and quite special. The Circle of Life is very apparent to us as gardeners and observers of nature and here it was about our members.

So look around your home. Any pictures or artifacts from earlier or even recent garden club days will be very appreciated. We will return anything we are given although we might ask permission to reproduce some. Write me at The Hour or contact us at norwalkgardenclub.com. Board Member Jan Broome, who is our website expert, will let us know.

Planting on the Green:  On May 21, you’ll see us at the Norwalk Greenplanting annual flowers around the cannon, the flagpole, and the new gazebo. Come and say hello. If you’re a willing digger, we’ll give you a shovel and a hug!

What should we do with Invasives? The meeting at March 12 gave us the answer. The presentation “Managing Invasive Plants” by Bill Duesing, producer of “Living on the Earth” radio programs, was very different and so interesting. He has lived organically for 19 years, having studied changes in the earth from the use of chemicals on food. Earlier this winter, Nick Mancini, noted gardening expert, had recommended the avoidance of manure on vegetable gardens. He said that bacteria lives on in this medium. If it’s from cows, for example, he listed Mad Cow Disease as a bacterial possibility. Vegetables must be free from any infection. When we asked him about that, Duesing agreed with Mancini’s warning and he too spoke against farmyard fertilizers. There are many organic fertilizers which are acceptable and effective. We cannot advertise or condemn.

Our Adopt-a-Spot Garden:  Gail Stevens, chair of this so-pretty project, will be at the spot with her committee soon to clear away the winter debris at the corner of East Avenue and Wall Street. So many lovely comments were received by our committee members last season as they worked on the watering, weeding, and planting. We all shared in their reaction to the praise. Come join garden club if you’d like to share that praise too.

What’s Happening with Crafts:  We’re very relieved to report that Gaye Seymour, who has done so much for our craft work, is recovering beautifully from the car accident, probably helped by approximatley 300 Get Well cards sent to her by friends and members of her service clubs. Gaye hopes to return to the meeting on April 9 with even more ideas for our Christmas Craft Fair. In the meantime, as usual, many members are volunteering to help out as well. This is important to us since our Craft Fair each December at Cranbury Chapel is the major fund-raiser for our club. It offers really nice handmade and homemade gifts and foods for the holidays to the community.

The Norwalk Library:  Sally D’Amato’s committee are returning to the lovely circle of perennials surrounding the sculpture on the front lawn. The photo shows just how beautiful it looked last year; since they are perennials, we’ll see most of them again. Chris Bradley, the library’s director, has been so gracious in her appreciation of our club’s work on the indoor and outdoor plants. Ralph Bloom, the book sale manager, tells us to be sure to drop by the Library between March 10 and April 23 for their terrific sale of 500 gardening books. I bought some at great prices last year and really enjoyed their contents.

St. Patrick’s Blessing:

I know it’s past St. Patrick’s Day but this blessing is so appropriate for all you gardeners, allow me to include it with a little garden club improvisation:

Wishing you a rainbow for sunlight after showers —

Miles and miles of flowery smiles for gardening happy hours —

Roses at your doorway for luck and laughter too,

A host of friends that never ends each day your whole life thru’.

_____________________________________________________________

The More Things Change…   posted February 28,2014  the Norwalk Hour

by Joanne Hughes

This photograph from The Hour’s archives is from 1975. So long ago and yet many things have not changed. These three women working hard to serve the community might be in a news article Norwalk Garden Club 1975dated 2014 were it not for the use of their husband’s names to identify them. They are: Norwalk Garden Club President Mrs. Francis Whitman (center), Mrs. Byron Williams (right), and Mrs. William Rockholz, all creating dried floral arrangements. Tell us if you know them.

Their work however was similar to our club’s present commitment to beautification. These pictured NGC members were decorating a local art exhibit on Oct. 26, 1975, at the Lockwood House. Since this structure, 300 feet from City Hall, is planned to become a museum for the Norwalk Historical Commission, today’s garden club volunteers might be dressing it up in 2014. In referring back, incidentally, we found that 1975 member Margaret Smith, a noted architect, had designed the Lockwood House, which was dedicated in 1973.

Are you interested in any of our upcoming presentations?   Come and visit. We’d love to have you. Since our meetings are open to the public, come to hear our speakers or demonstrations. Recently we were pleased to have four gentlemen attend. The first gardener was interested in pruning techniques and the others were drawn to the Feb. 12 discussion by Master Gardener Nick Mancini on organic gardening. This lively author really surprised us by strongly recommending that if we are planting a vegetable garden this spring, we should be aware that manure holds on to its bacterial content. Think “Mad Cow Disease” and seek alternative fertilizers. More on that next month.

 What’s coming up this spring?   Two programs will be wildly different: March 12 “Managing Invasive Plants” by Bill Duesing, producer of “Living on the Earth” radio programs, and April 9 “The Art of Ikebana Flower Arranging” by a fourth-level Ikebana Teacher of this Japanese craft. Come and enjoy either or both. Except for July and August, we usually meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. for bag lunch, noon for one-hour business meeting, dessert and socializing until the 1:30 p.m. presentation at the Gallaher Mansion at Cranbury Park. Watch for the TO DO Listing in The Hour for all necessary information. Our website is www.norwalkgardenclub.com

A surprise for our special member!   While reviewing all the paperwork for our 90th Anniversary, we were so delighted to find reference to our “Sweetheart of the Norwalk Garden Club” — our own Patricia Taylor. This lady, who is on our 90th Anniversary Committee, was mentioned in the 1975 The Hour article about the dried flower beautification as follows: “We were involved in the beautification of Norwalk and Pattie Taylor was our representative in charge of planting petunias on the Town Green.” Later, Patricia Taylor went on to become an officer and president of the club – 39 years ago!

Do you have a photo or artifact for our library display?

Contact us at our website if you have something from the many years of Norwalk Garden Club to lend us for our celebrations. Maybe your mother, aunt, neighbor or friend was a member or just kept pictures from the “old days.” Our major celebration will be in June with displays then and at the Norwalk Library. Or write me at The Hour, care of Editor Chris Bosak. Thank you.

________________________________________________________________

What’s Growing On with the Norwalk Garden Club — 90 Years of Service!  published January 17, 2014

pic

Joanne Hughes and her fellow Norwalk Garden Club members plant flowers at the Norwalk Green Wednesday.

Hour photo / Erik Trautmann  Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 5:45 pm

By JOANNE HUGHES, Norwalk Garden Club

As we enter our 90th year of service to the Norwalk community, we have realized with thanks that most of our preserved photos and articles from 1924 forward are primarily taken from The Hour under margin-to-margin headlines like this one: “Garden Club Members Admire Lovely Delphinium.”

Featured under this particular headline are two lovelies in their flapper dresses and cloche hats. An artistic rendering of this photo has become the symbol for the anniversary on our poster by 90th Anniversary Chair Noreen Normand. So let’s catch up to the present with some insights into our 2014 Garden Club and its activities.

Let’s Talk: The nicest thing happened during our December 2013 Craft Fair. At the raffle booth a very nice woman was talking to three of us. She said she loved our garden club members and their crafts. I asked if she would be interested in joining our group. She said: “I’d join in a minute except I live in Wilton.” To which, three of us said simultaneously: “That doesn’t matter. You don’t have to live in Norwalk to join.”

She was so happy that she marched over with me to Membership Chair Gaye Seymour (203-847-2715). She’s now a new member! You too? Visit www.norwalkgardenclub.com.

Our Latest Speaker: What a recent speaker told us might be helpful to you. He talked about pruning. We thought he had terrific content and we really loved his visual aides: branches, saws, leaves and diagrams!

He summarized pruning instructions in five steps: 1. Remove dead, diseased, and broken branches. (Cut sprouts from below Graft.) 2. Remove competing leaders. 3. Remove crossing or rubbing branches. 4. Step back and look for balance; thin heavy sections. 5. Shape, removing twiggy branches on the front of the trunk and underside of the lowest limbs or “ladywavers.” We found the talk very useful. Hope you do too. He’s a noted arborist, Lars Cheruchetti.

A pleasant idea has us talking: we are working with Mill Hill Historical Museum in the spring to develop an authentic colonial herb garden. Educational Coordinator Samantha Kulish will meet with us in April to figure out what we may contribute to the wonderful work she does with Norwalk school kids.

Our Master Gardener Jan Broome has suggested a wonderful idea to make the plot more accessible: it will have four containers, one at each corner so that people and children who cannot otherwise reach the plants can pluck, smell, taste or examine them even from wheelchairs or strollers. The Committee and Co-Chairs Jan Broome and I will take direction and advice from the following: Norwalk Historical Commission’s David Westmoreland, Norwalk Historical Society President Suzanne Betts, and Mill Hills Executive Director Diane Jellerette. Please give us your good ideas for this project, too; we’d love to hear from you.

Final Note: As we celebrate our 90th Year of Service, we will have exhibits at the Library in June, at our 1924-2014 Grand Tea at the Norwalk Inn on June 4, and anywhere else we can squeeze in our pictures and artifacts from Norwalk through the years.

Can you help us? If your mother, aunt, mother, grandmother, friend or neighbor kept any mementoes of the Norwalk Club from the past, may we please borrow them for this occasion. Contact us on line, (see above) or if you are a former member, send an e-mail or come to our meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at Gallaher Mansion at Cranbury Park at noon.

All are welcome — especially you.

Members of National Garden Clubs, Inc. and The Federation of Connecticut Garden Clubs, Inc.