EXCERPT FROM – March 2012 CHS Newsletter

Letter from the President
Dear Gardeners,

Miss Rumphius rules! In case you’ve never met the inspiring heroine of the children’s book by Barbara Cooney, allow me to introduce you. Alice Rumphius longed to go to faraway places, live by the sea and follow her grandfather’s advice to make the world more beautiful. That last desire was the hardest to fulfill, but Miss Rumphius scattered lupine seeds through the fields and headlands of the little Maine town in which she lived. Flowers popped up everywhere. The book ends with Alice, now the “Lupine Lady,” suggesting to her grandniece that she, too, must do something to make the world more beautiful.

I suspect there are a lot of Miss Rumphiuses out there.

We were talking about this phenomenon at the last CHS board meeting. Many of us are fascinated by the story of Hartford resident Nicola Allen, who used to drive through the suburbs after work because she hated returning to the uncared-for neighborhood of her North End home. Allen decided that plantings were one of the things that made the ’burbs appealing to her. She used her drives to note which plants she liked, and then to identify them. Finally, she planted some in her garden.

The garden filled in after a few years, and Allen took down the chain link fence surrounding her yard. Soon enough, neighbors who had lived among each other for decades but hadn’t met were gathering on her porch. She helped them with gardening (provided they would remove their fences, too). Slowly, plantings—and the attendant pride of place—spread along the street, eventually transforming what had been one of the North End’s roughest byways. Allen has gone on to spread gardens throughout the North End, becoming a sort of urban Miss Rumphius.

Those of you who attended the CHS symposium heard Hartford landscape designer and CHS member Lelaneia Dubay promote a landscape designer’s challenge called Transforming Hartford One Block at a Time. The goal is to get 10 to 15 landscape designers to redo front yards on Ashley Street in the Asylum Hill area. Work is to be done this spring.

CHS should applaud these efforts. Not only do they fulfill our mission to help educate others about the joy and process of horticulture, they also fulfill the call to action issued by the Lupine Lady’s grandfather to make our world more beautiful. What more could you ask from gardening? We thought it a good idea for CHS to formally recognize such game-changers with some kind of award. Our new office administrator Lynn Rouleau suggested we call it the Transforming your Community Through Gardening award, which sums it up nicely.

I’d welcome your thoughts on the idea. We’d also love to hear about possible nominees. And, as spring awakens, remember Miss Rumphius and continue to do what you can to make the world more beautiful, one yard at a time.

Horticordially yours,

Steve Silk




“Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand
everything better.”

-A Einstein