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Early Risers

Don’t just wait for spring. Do something about it.



Got a mean case of cabin fever? If spring’s arrival right around the corner isn’t soon enough for you, there is a solution. All you need is a trowel, some thawed soil, a few minutes, and you could be crouching on the ground staring snowdrops in the face. 

These seemingly delicate white flowers forge ahead when the rest of nature is still under the covers. Custom-made for arriving precociously early, snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are fitted with leaves that have sharp, sturdy blades for piercing through the snow. They quickly produce nodding flowers that dangle down to protect their reproductive parts from snow and wind, and the petals flare open or fold closed depending on the temperature. Even if a snowstorm dumps a blanket of snow on them, they’re usually fine.

Best of all, you can rustle some snowdrops for your own garden as soon as they appear. Unlike most bulbs, snowdrops prefer transplanting while they are green and growing. Cozy up to a generous friend with a few extra clusters of snowdrops, and be thankful that you’re spreading the wealth. When you dig the cluster, keep in mind that those tiny bulbs have deep roots.

Find a shady location to relocate your small blizzard-busters where the snow melts early and you walk frequently (situating a colony on the path to the garage will make your morning commute more scenic). Granted, the flowers are tiny, but every little bit helps. 

Other spring bulbs follow fast on snowdrops’ heels. From the earliest crocus to bright sailor-blue scillas and carnival-colored hyacinths, spring bulbs flower with the robins’ return. Planning ahead will be necessary as most spring bulbs must be planted in autumn or early winter because they require a period of cold. Get those scillas and hyacinths installed in fall, and you’ll reap the benefits when you really need a lift after the dog days of winter. 

Daffodils are famous for breezing in early, too. You can push their appearance by selecting dwarf types such as ‘Tête-à-Tête’ or ‘Jetfire.’ Not fond of school-bus yellow? Try white and butter-yellow ‘Toto,’ ‘February Silver,’ and ‘Topolino.’ Or plant early tulips, spraying the sprouts and flower buds as they emerge with deer repellent, and you will be wallowing in a rainbow of color by mid-April.

Where would we be without hellebores? In a snowless winter, they can begin their flowering performance mid-season, producing clusters of rose-like blossoms in cream, green, and burgundy. Cut last year’s weather-beaten foliage back as the buds begin to emerge, and the flowers that follow will stop traffic. In my town, my hellebore collection is the delight of local dog walkers. A handful of hellebores in late February are worth a whole garden filled with flowers later on.

Primroses are impetuous, especially the drumstick types (Primula denticulata). They come and go fairly quickly, but there’s nothing like these little balls of magenta or purple annuals, available even at grocery stores, to perk up a garden at the last minute. Ditto for Icelandic poppies (Papaver nudicaule), the difference being that these flamboyant orange, white, yellow or red blooms are perennial. Best of all, they keep right on sending up the buds throughout summer. In my experience, Icelandic poppies don’t perennialize well, but a full season of performance from a meager investment isn’t bad, right? 

More fleeting but indispensable when you need them most are pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vernalis and P. vulgaris). They come up like a shot with rosettes of fuzzy, parsley-like leaves and open relatively large-sized, star-like flowers of bluish purple with orange centers—the Easter flower. The blooms come and go in a snap, but the seed heads that linger are like silken plumes. After winter, even a brief blast of color is welcome.

Lungworts produce a sustained show. The moment after the snow melts, they begin sending up their handsome, speckled, ground-hugging leaves, but that’s just the start. Buds follow immediately, opening to periwinkle-blue blossoms that linger over the long haul.

Get ye to a nursery, purchase some plants, pop them in the ground the moment that inserting a trowel is possible, and you will be surrounded by the majesty of this low-growing stalwart from spring’s blossoms into late summer. In my garden, the speckled leaves remain evergreen until they are smothered in snow. 

Add a background of forsythias, some of the most persistent shrubs of all, and your world will be bathed in golden yellows. Unlike magnolias, they can take a late frost or two without batting an eyelash. We need that sort of courage in spring. So do your part and get planting!

 

 

 

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January 2019

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

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Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

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Cost: Tickets: $25 | Members & Seniors $20 | Students $15

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The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free for members and with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM Create a cool yarn hat in a single evening! All materials will be provided. This event is free and no registration is required. Ages 12 and up. Hosted by North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12; $10.80 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

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Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

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The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

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Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
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