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The Glory of Spring

Flowers lead the way to this bountiful garden season



Illustration by Becky Heavner

This is the season for which gardeners have been yearning, the time when all the down-and-dirty drudgery of last fall’s turf-tinkering pays off in springtime splendor, causing the heart to swell, the spirits to soar (and the aching rhomboids to become re-acquainted with analgesics). 

May and June are the most magical months in the horticultural calendar. Flowerbeds burst with luminous blooms; honeyed scents perfume the mild air; and winter’s dreary dormancy at last gives way to lush new life. Indeed, spring can be looked upon as the early childhood of the growing season, to be sweetly savored before the young things romp into unruly adolescence (requiring limit-setting in the form of dead-heading), then acquisitive adulthood (with plants duking it out for nutrients and sunlight, best dealt with by division), and finally retirement (with seeds dropping to impregnate the earth for another chilly confinement). 

The sequence of springtime flowering is a wonder to behold, beginning with the bulbs. The earliest are the Snowdrops and dwarf Iris (March), followed by large Crocus, Daffodils, and Grape Hyacinth (April). But the bulbous lineup in May is an eye-popping corker, with English Iris, Giant Allium, Parrot Tulips, and Turk’s-Cap Lilies lording it over their half-pint (albeit adorable) cousins, such as the petite Triandrus Narcissus ‘Hawera’. 

Bulbs are tough customers, unimpressed by cold snaps and able to bloom in the face of flurries. Likewise, most established flowering shrubs can be counted on to produce a dazzling springtime display, no matter what the weather report. Rhododendrons, with melon-size blooms, are your basic knockouts, especially such glamorous cultivars as ‘Janet Blair’ (the poshest are pale pink with maroon “eyes”); the smaller-leafed Azaleas—technically rhodies—are charming when suffused with coral or white blooms.

As for fragrance, Lilacs, which by Connecticut tradition are used as foundation plants, are irresistibly come-hither when in bloom; ditto for Viburnum ‘Carlesii,’ which can be nasally detected from 50 feet. And for sheer seductiveness, nothing matches Chinese Tree Peonies, with voluptuous flowers that can span 12 inches. 

Then there are the flowering trees, such as Crabapple (best in show is the cultivar ‘Donald Wyman’; such elegant bones), Kousa Dogwood (later-flowering and more disease-resistant than its sickly sibling, Cornus florida), Kwanzan Cherry (famous for its vivid pink flowers; think Washington, D.C., in spring), and Japanese Styrax (of all the flowering trees, this is the one to bring home to mama because of its profuse bell-shape tiny white flowers and satiny gray bark). 

But when it comes to tender annuals and perennials in this neighborhood, May, even June, are not to be taken for granted, weather-wise. Agronomists who track such things note that in 1967, it snowed in New England on May 26, with the record for such meteorological mood-killers being set back in 1816, when, no lie, the fluffy stuff came to town in June. Clever are the gardeners who know how to curb their propagational enthusiasm by waiting until Memorial Day—the average last frost date in Zone 5 is May 15—to usher fragile newcomers into their borders, lest the darlings be zapped in the bud. 

Withal, June’s climate hereabouts is just about perfect—neither too hot nor too cold, neither too wet nor too dry—a time when, if you happen to be a flower, you possess the power to make grown men wobbly in the knees. 

Of course, it would be useful at this point to provide a list of such horticultural hubba-hubbas, but oh God, where to start in the June-blooming pageant? I mean, herbaceous Peonies, for a start. Can you think of a more ravishing flower, no less one that also happens to smell sublime? And tell me a more over-the-top number than the Oriental Poppy, in torrid pinks and smoldering reds, with big black centers and strange, whiskered stems.

Not to be resisted are trembling Bleeding Hearts, in pink or virginal white, or Lady’s Mantle, or Jacob’s Ladder, or Dictamnus (gas plant), Bachelor Button, Scabiosa (pincushion flower), Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ Foxglove, Goat’s Beard, Hollyhock, and shrub-like Baptisia with blue, white, or pale yellow blossoms. And I’m not even warmed up yet. 

Ah! Let me not omit the aristocratic spring-flowering vines that envelop trellises and clamber up walls. Swoon material is to be found in Clematis Montana ‘Rubens’ and climbing Hydrangea, although years may pass before they squeeze out a single bloom—still, oh so worth the wait. (Forget the ruthless wisteria; it’ll tear your roof off at warp speed and can be florally withholding.) 

Speaking of time, a word to the impatient gardening fledgling: Most flowering plants, whether woody or herbaceous, require a period of adjustment before they produce flowers in sufficient numbers to brag about, as this well-worn but useful agricultural homily illustrates: The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap. Well. Maybe not the climbing Hydrangea, a plant which gives new meaning to the term late bloomer—try seven years at my place; also the Tree Peony, another slow-poke, which should be purchased in five-gallon pots so that there is a chance in hell that they may actually bloom somewhere in the vicinity of your lifetime. But when these beauties finally come of age and enthusiastically provide armloads of bouquets, what joy they impart, year after glorious year. 

Given all this enchanting floral plentitude, it comes as no surprise that most gardeners can’t bear to be far from home at this time of year. Rather, to borrow from Algernon Swinburne, they prefer to be on their own lovingly cultivated soil, where they can simply watch, transfixed, as “blossom by blossom,” the spring unfolds.


Click the link for Ground Rules: 10 spring chores to keep your garden from going to rack and ruin

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September 2017

 The Litchfield Historical Society and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy invite you for a book talk and reception on Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. with Roger D. Stone, author of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society and Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
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Website »

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CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

Where:
24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
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Website »

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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06059
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

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The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

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 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

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The WCSU Alumni Association will host The Neil Wagner Golf Outing with a 10 a.m. shotgun start at the Richter Park Golf Club, 100 Aunt Hack Road in Danbury. Proceeds from the annual event will...

Cost: $175

Where:
Richter Park Golf Club
100 Aunt Hack Road
Danbury, CT  06810
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Website »

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Painter Stanley Lewis will discuss his work at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The event will...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

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This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

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Join us as we welcome Mark Scarbrough, a scholar on 19th Century American literature, as he leads a five week session exploring literature, politics and culture in the United States through the...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

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Author, Filmmaker and Educator, Tom Shachtman, will offer a visual presentation followed by a signing on his recently published book, How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors Diplomats, Luis...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

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For over 30 years, Green Chimneys has been opening its doors to the community for Little Folk Farm Day, welcoming scores of young people to explore our bustling Brewster campus. Play groups,...

Cost: infants under 2 - Free; Adults - Free; Children 2 & older -@ $10

Where:
Green Chimneys
400 Doansburg Rd.
Brewster, NY  10509
View map »


Sponsor: Green Chimneys
Telephone: 845-279-2995 ext 307
Contact Name: Gail Dickerman
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

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The White Hart Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with Oblong Books & Music & Scoville Memorial Library ADMISSION IS FREE.  THE PURCHASE OF A BOOK AT THE EVENT SUPPORTS...

Cost: Free

Where:
White Hart Inn
15 Under Mountain Road
Salisbury, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

WCSU will present the "Best Darn Jazz Club in Danbury" at 8 p.m. in the Colonial Corner in the Student Center on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Little Free Library Stewards Rose Buckens and Jo Ann Jaacks will host a combined indoor tag sale fundraiser and informational gathering at St. Michael’s Community House, 23 South Street, just...

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Michael's Community House
23 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Little Free Library at StoneHill
Telephone: 203-770-4156
Contact Name: Rose Buckens
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society’s Saturday morning walking tours are exploring new sites in town. Each tour lasts about an hour—make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear...

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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