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April, 2024 Newsletter

Volunteers Making New Canaan Beautiful

Dear Members and Friends,

It's hard to believe it is already April. With all the rain we have had, our gardens should soon be glorious!  NCBL has a lot going on this month beginning with the Victorian Tea on Wednesday and the joint program April 10 with the NC Garden Club. Our joint program features Matthew Benson who will speak to us about growing beautiful food. Imagine how your table would look with delicious, colorful vegetables next to a beautiful floral arrangement.


NCBL's first garden visit of the year will occur on April 18. Sign up to visit or to greet. It’s a great way to reconnect after our winter zoom time. Consider offering your garden as we always like to see what our members are up to in their yards.


The DPW ordered plantable stone barriers for the restaurant seating areas on Elm Street and have asked NCBL to help planting them. The flower colors will complement the hanging baskets for a dramatic look. We'll be emailing for help when planting time comes, so watch your newsletters and emails for more information.


And finally, anyone who would like to learn more about gardening should be in touch with Faith Kerchoff and sign up to work at Lee Garden or on any of the Traveling Trowels projects. It's a great way to meet people, have fun and make our town more beautiful! And you will look at each spot differently after taking part in tidying it up.


Happy Spring!


Robin Bates-Mason & Jill Ernst


April Program With NCGC

Growing Beautiful Food book cover

Growing Beautiful Food

with Matthew Benson


April 10, 2024

9:30 social

10:00 - 11:30 presentation

Waveny House

Members only

No Registration Required

Books will be for sale at the event.

The New Canaan Garden Club has organized a wonderful joint program for April that promises to inspire us with gorgeous pictures of Stonegate Farm and new ideas for our own summer gardens. Matthew Benson, author, photographer, organic farmer and member of The Garden Club of America, will share his experiences and successes transforming Stonegate Farm into a sustainable and nourishing farm that is as beautiful as it is functional.

Located in the Hudson Valley, Stonegate Farm has served to exemplify Matthew’s methods of beautiful farming, inspiring gardeners of all levels and demonstrating farming as an art form. The farm and its events connect the aesthetics of horticulture with the purpose of farming. His book “Growing Beautiful Food” will be available for purchase at the lecture and to visitors to Stonegate Farm. All are welcome to make the trip for tours and numerous workshops including organic growing techniques, micro farming, floriculture, herbalism and raising chickens.

You can find more about Stonegate Farm by visiting their Instagram page:


Calling All Cooks & Bakers!

The Hospitality Committee is looking for volunteers to prepare food/baked goods for our upcoming program "Growing Beautiful Food" on April 10th from 9:30-11:30 at Waveny House.

This is a program done in conjunction with the NC Garden Club, so there will be a large audience in attendance.


If you can help, please contact Anne Tropeano at or text her at 203-536-0349 to let her know what you would like to contribute. Items should be dropped off at Waveny by 9:15 am the morning of the event. Thank you!

The Hospitality Committee

After program lunch at Cava!

Cava restaurant

After the program with Matthew Benson at Waveny on Wednesday, April 10, NCBL members are invited to gather for lunch in the back room at Cava.  We all enjoy talking to each other during the half hour before the program; now we can extend the social hour to lunch.  It is a great way for us to get to know one another better.  (Everyone will order and pay for their own meal.)  Please let Sara Hunt ( know if you can attend so we can tell Cava how many people to expect.


Noon, Wednesday, April 10

2 Forest St., New Canaan

May Program

What to Ask Your Landscaper

Wednesday, May 1st

6:30 - 8:30 pm

New Canaan Nature Center

Martin Skrelunas - Owner of Architecture and Landscape Preservation LLC

 Ty Tan - Owner of Ty Tan Designs

Robin Bates-Mason - President, Planet New Canaan and NCBL

Unsure what to ask your landscaper because you are unfamiliar with garden and lawn care maintenance? Not sure what needs to be done and when? Come to this informative program and learn what is needed and what questions you should be asking to be a more knowledgeable customer.

Mr. Skrelunas has advised and managed private households and landscapes for the past 16 years. Prior to that, he worked in the non-profit sector managing and caring for significant landmark homes and estates. 

Replay: March Program

In case you missed it - or wish to see it again, the inspirational March program with Janette Monear can be found here:

Member Garden Visits

Note that we have added a Garden Visit date in April!

Last year's Member Garden Visits were tremendously popular and they will continue again this spring and summer on the following dates:

April 18

May 9

June 13

July 10

August 7

Please let Nancy Malling know if you would be willing to have your garden on the 'tour'.

Registration is now open for the April and May garden visit dates. Click on the green button below to register:

Garden Visits: April & May

The gardens will be open from 9:30 am to noon for 35 registered NCBL members.

If the dates are full, contact Lois Himes to be added to the waitlist:

203 451 2355 or

Directions to the gardens will be sent to the registrants the day before the event. The Garden Visits will be held rain or shine!

Greeters Needed for June, July & August!


Use the blue button below to sign up as a greeter for April or May. Please contact Pam Yee if you have any questions:

Be a Greeter

Lee Garden Members' Day

Sunday, May 19

1:00 - 4:00

Olive and George Lee Memorial Garden

Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to see the breathtaking display of azaleas and rhododendrons at their peak spring bloom. Our garden volunteers will be available for questions. This is a day for members to celebragte our treasure garden! George Lee left his garden to us in 1978 and we have cared for it ever since, staying true to his wishes to share the garden with like-minded people. Refreshments will be served.

Waveny Flower Arranging

Flower Arranging at Waveny Care Center Sign Ups Available

June, September, October, and December

Once again, NCBL members will arrange flowers at Waveny Care Center during the months of June, September, October, and December. Generally, the volunteers source flowers from their gardens or from grocery stores (eg Stop and Shop or Trader Joe's) on Sunday and make the arrangements between 9:00 and 11:00 am Monday in the flower room at Waveny Care Center. Volunteers check on the arrangements on or around Thursday morning, to refresh the water and remove any spent blooms.

Any flower purchases are reimbursable, so save your receipts.

Sign up with a friend or just add your name to our sign up. Questions should be directed to Amy Reid: or Amy Sorensen:

Waveny Flower Arranging Sign Up

Flower Arranging Workshop

A wonderful time was had by all at our Flower Arranging Workshop. Many thanks to Ty Tan for her guidance and making the evening so much fun!

Yvonne Hunkeler's design

Robin Miner and her arrangement

Flower Arranging Workshop Photos

Dig and Divide

Dig and Divide – 2024

Do you have excess plants? Are you dividing favorites or voracious growers? Have you had too much success growing from seed or taking cuttings? Perhaps you would like to re-arrange your gardens. If so, this is your opportunity to find new homes for your plants and for members to benefit from your donations.

How to offer your plants

Members wishing to offer plants should email the below information to Camilla Austin: 

Please copy and paste the following into your email and fill in the information. Head the email "Dig and Divide".

Member's Name:


Contact number:

Email address:

Plant Name:

Number available:

Growing condition: (sun, partial sun, shade etc)

Flowering month and color:

How to claim plants offered:

·      Make contact with the member offering plants 

·      Arrange a date and time to collect the plants

·      Check if the plants are in pots or need to be dug out

·      Take any tools/pots to transport the plants

·      Be ready to replant and water your new plants

·      Email Camilla who will mark the plant as taken on the offerings sheet

General Guidelines/Spirit

·      The Dig and Divide is for New Canaan Beautification League members only.

·      Make direct contact with the member who has a plant you would like to take.

·      Plants offered should be pest free and healthy. Plants taken and given at member's discretion.

·      Members should be home and present when plants are taken, (no sending of landscapers). This ensures the correct plants are taken and there is no damage to the members' gardens.

·      There will be no monetary payments for plants given or taken.

·      Please do not offer diseased plants or those in soil with jumping worms.

Civic Beautification

They're baaaack!

The mailbox drop off was cut back and raked.

front row, L-R: Pam Yee, Cindy Bamatter, Faith Kerchoff, Sandy Siegel, Eniko Szatai, Peggy Jansen

back row, L-R: Lois Himes, Karen Christie

not pictured: Stephanie Hutter, Pam Thatcher

Installation of the new fencing at the Railroad Station is complete.

Traveling trowels cleaned up Mead Park's plaza 3/22. The weeds were frozen into the ground! Front row L-R: Faith Kerchoff, Sandy Siegel, Camilla Austin. Back row, L-R: Lois Himes, Cindy Bamatter, Karen Christie, Yvonne Hunkeler and new member, Karin Weller. Not pictured: Fanny Moran, Claire Perkins - and Paul Bamatter who kindly delivered hot coffee & baked goods.

If you would like to sign up for emails to come and help with our Traveling Trowels, contact Faith: We discuss plants, tools, and our yards all while spiffing up the town.


The triangles at the intersection of White Oak Shade & Nursery Road as well as Country Club and Rte. 123 need caregivers. The commitment is about an hour per month. If interested, please be in touch with Claude Colabella:

Thank you!

above: Barbara O'Shea's triangle at Huckleberry & Valley Roads. Thank you Barbara for taking on this little gem!

Lee Garden

The spring ephemerals have started to make their appearance! This time of year, there is a wide variety of plants blooming and some make a short appearance and give way to others. So visit soon and visit often, if you can.

Want to stop by when our volunteers are there? They will be working there on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings this spring cleaning up leaves, moving ground covers, and pruning. Come say 'hi' and have a walk-about. Want to know what will grow in your yard? See all that Lee has to offer in examples.

Lee Garden is located at 89 Chichester Rd. Swing open the gate and park in the parking area. The garden is open dawn to dusk every day.

The Hellebores are still blooming in all colors. As the season goes on, the flower parts change, giving rise to a different appearance, but always beautiful, as shown below.

Helleborus sp
daffodil Lee Garden

George Lee was President of the American Daffodil Society, and many varieties are blooming on the property today!

Sanguinaria canadensis

Native bloodroot (Sanginaria canadensis) has started blooming. The flowers open up in full sun, but close at night or on very cloudy days.

We have a new bench in the Secret Garden section of Lee, to replace the old wooden one. This bench is in recognition of Kathy Lapolla and all the years she has dedicated to taking care of the garden.

Nominating Committee


Get involved on your own time!

Are you looking for a way to help the Beautification League but limited by a busy work schedule or kids at home? We’re expanding our communications team! Our Web, Newsletter, and Marketing crew is a friendly gang, and we’d love help from people with specific skill sets. If you have, or if you know a fellow member who has any of the following aces up their sleeve, let us know:

- Familiarity with CRM software 
- Data entry & database management
- Graphic design (Canva & Photoshop)
- Social media community management
- Exceptional computer skills and a can-do attitude

We do what it takes to get it done, often in our slippers with a glass of wine. But we’d love your help.

Please reach out to Barb Achenbaum to learn more.

Join Our Members' Facebook Group

facebook group header

Did you know we have a Facebook group just for our NCBL members? Join the group to share all things plants, and ask questions! Click the image left, and click on "join". See you there!

Annual Appeal is Here

Our Annual Appeal mailing has made its way to New Canaan homes. Click our graphic below if you'd like to donate.

Annual Appeal Reason 7

Pollinator Pathway: Save the Date

Pollinator Friendly Plant awarded Perennial of the Year

The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has awarded their Perennial Plant of the Year (PPOY) 2024 award to Phlox paniculata 'Jeana'.

This plant is a natural selection of the species and first found in Tennessee by Jeana Prewitt for who it is named. 'Jeana' was the top performer in the Mt. Cuba Center Trial Garden 2015-2017. During the trial, it showed mildew-free foliage, impressive floral display, and attracted more pollinators than any other Phlox sp in the trial.

NCBL member Betsy Sammarco, has had 'Jeana' in her garden for a few years and can attest to its pollinator attraction. She's seen many species of butterflies and skippers on her patch, including Monarchs, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtail (seen below), and the uncommon Giant Swallowtail.

Betsy told us "Although I try to stick with planting straight species of native plants wherever possible, the benefits of this native selection are hard to resist!"

Phlox paniculata Jeana

Read about the PPA PPOY award here:

PPOY 2024

Read about the Mt. Cuba trial here:

Mt. Cuba Center Phlox for Sun Trial

Planning Your Plantings this Year

Is this plant invasive?

Did you know you can buy plants in Connecticut that are considered invasive? Before you buy, check out these websites to check on their invasive status:

Go Botany: New England Plant Trust
CT Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) Plant List
leafy divider

Want to increase the native plantings in your landscape?

Many nurseries are now carrying native plant sections in their inventory. Just ask the nursery to point them out to you. And if they don't have natives available, request that they start carrying some so they realize there is a need and market for native plants.

UCONN Extension Service has compiled a Native Tree, Shrub, and Perennial Availability List that lists 35 nurseries in CT with native plants! Download the latest edition by clicking the button below:

Native Plant Availability List - CT 2024
leafy divider

And more places for native plants/seeds:

Nearby in Vista, NY:

Copia Home and Garden

Eco59 native plants sold through their farm stand. Call for availability:

Hilltop Hanover Farm

Selling native Eco59 plant seeds:

The Hickories

In Massachusetts, but definitely worth the road trip, not only for purchasing plants, but to visit their Garden in the Woods:

Native Plant Trust

Welcome to our newest members!

Riv Neiss

Francie Thompson

Karin Weller

Barbara Al-Haffar

Mary Flaherty

Moving Day graphic

If you have changed any of your contact information (home address, email address, or phone number), please let membership know.

Please let me know if a member of our NCBL family needs some cheering up in the form of a card, or perhaps, some flowers. 

Call me at 203-801-0862 or e-mail me at

to provide me with the appropriate information.

Many thanks for your thoughtfulness!


Looking for 'Blooms'

We have new members joining us each month and we need volunteers to be 'blooms' to help us welcome our 'buds'.  Just share your enthusiasm and alert them to upcoming events.  

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Sara Hunt:

We want to be sure everyone feels welcome.

Around Town

Planet New Canaan, Planet New Canaan Youth Board, and The Boy Scouts will be collecting redeemables (bottles and cans with a deposit) on Saturday, April 20th from 10am to 2pm at the New Canaan Farmers Market at the Lumberyard Parking Lot to benefit

Filling In The Blanks.

Filling in the Blanks 2024
Last Words

Testing the spring waters....

Our NCBL Newsletter is used to distribute information regarding NCBL activities and announcements that pertain directly to our stated mission. The newsletter shall not be used for political issues, or for the promotion of merchandise or services unless such merchandise or services are part of a joint venture with NCBL.
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