Appreciation for New London's summer beauty

As summer wanes and cooler weather hints of autumn’s arrival, we would like to take a moment to acknowledge some hard work that does not get a lot of attention, though the beauty it produces certainly does.

With clouds of fuschia and lavender petunias cascading from hanging planters, artfully arrayed ornamental grasses and splashes of bright red cannas standing tall in the center of huge clay pots throughout downtown, New London is especially cheery and colorful during summer. Anyone who has spent time there can attest to that.

But it doesn't happen without a lot of effort.

The lovely plantings displayed from Parade Plaza to the downtown ferry docks, from Bank Street to City Hall, from Waterfront Park to Ocean Beach, are the work of the New London Beautification Committee and the City Center District. These groups also had some help from volunteers from city businesses and Connecticut College.

All the gardeners who had a hand in the planting, weeding, watering and maintenance deserve much praise and plenty of thanks for their efforts. The lovely floral displays present a welcoming atmosphere for locals and visitors alike and serve as evidence there is intense pride in the Whaling City and community spirit is alive and well.

New London’s Beautification Committee is a group of dedicated volunteers. The City Council-appointed group has 18 members who not only enjoy gardening, but also are extremely knowledgeable about flowers and plants. Each committee member assumes responsibility for the plantings at one or two specific city sites each summer season.

While providing such a service in a cash-strapped city presents its challenges, committee members make full use of plantings from their own gardens, provide all the manual labor necessary to plant and maintain the sites and have used grant money to pay for materials such as some of the large planters now strategically gracing many public spots.

"It’s a great deal of hands-on work to plant and maintain these gardens and you have to love gardening to volunteer to do it, but fortunately New London has folks who love to garden willing to volunteer,” committee co-chair Tita Williams said.

In addition to the Beautification Committee’s efforts, the City Center District is also instrumental in ensuring the city’s public landscapes are softened and enhanced by summer’s beautiful arrays of color. The CCD's planting program is spearheaded by Charlotte Hennegan at Thames River Greenery. A CCD employee also is charged with ensuring all the thirsty plants in public spots are sufficiently watered throughout the warm weather months.

Flowers and greenery may not seem a big deal in a city where vacant land and empty storefronts remain too plentiful. But the difference between sterile-looking streets and plazas where bare asphalt and concrete reign, and streetscapes punctuated by neat planters overflowing with bright colors and refreshing splashes of nature is dramatic.

Greener spaces are more relaxing, inviting and happier. Europeans have understood this for decades and national contests in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and elsewhere spur fierce competitions among communities vying to create the most colorful and beautiful public spaces possible. We could use a lot more of this green-oriented spirit here in southeastern Connecticut.

We love how beautiful New London is in summer because of all the flowers and plants. We thank all the dedicated volunteers who have made this possible.

But we also hope that even more volunteers step up in the future. Unfortunately, there are plenty of still-scraggly and unkempt public spots in the city. Beautification Committee volunteers can’t handle it all. But businesses and residents can adopt a spot and help transform a tangle of weeds to a place of beauty.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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