Tag Archives: Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum

Staples’ SLOBs Are Spectacular

Yesterday’s wet, chilly weather forced a week’s postponement of the Main Street Outdoor Market, and Saugatuck Church’s Blessing of the Animals. It kept many Westporters indoors.

But it did not stop — or even bother — over 300 SLOBs.

Staples’ Service League of Boys’ 10th annual Service Sunday drew all those volunteers — high school boys, and their parents — to 18 work sites, in Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk and Bridgeport.

Westport venues included Earthplace, Wadsworth Arboretum, Homes with Hope’s Bachrach and Linxweiler houses, Sherwood Island State Park and Wakeman Town Farm.

Staples’ SLOBs cleaned pathways at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum in Westport …

The groups whacked weeds, mulched, sorted charitable donations, power-washed, prepared food drive collection bags, cleaned playgrounds and paths,  painted mailboxes, removed invasive plants, hauled and spread compost, and assembled toiletry kits.

They also donated over $5,000 worth of school supplies, snack bags and used Legos to Bridgeport schools

That was SLOBs’ Sunday. How did you spend yours?

… and helped out at the Green Village Initiative cooperative garden in Bridgeport.

Happy Arbor Day! Get A Free Tree!

It’s not exactly Christmas, or the 4th of July.

But Arbor Day is Friday. Westport won’t let the holiday pass unnoticed.

We’re even jumping the gun

From 2-5 p.m. this Thursday (April 25) in front of Town Hall, the Westport Tree Board will distribute lilac and Norway spruce saplings.

It’s first-come, first-served. Planting instructions are on each bag.

It’s a busy day for the Tree Board. At 1 p.m. — an hour before the event — they’ll join 1st Selectman Jim Marpe to unveil a new sign at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stonybrook Road and Woodside Avenue).

Guests are invited to stay, walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12-acre open space property. Then head over to Town Hall for your freebie.

(Thanks to Eversource Energy, for making Thursday’s 6th annual sapling giveaway possible.)

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum.

Photo Challenge #198

Old habits die hard.

Sixty years after its founding, many Westporters still call Earthplace “the Nature Center.” (It had another name before that: the Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum.)

But there’s something (relatively) new at the 62-acre property near the Norwalk  border. The Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum is a 12-acre gem, filled with old trees, hiking trails, flowers and more.

The arboretum is town-designated open space, managed by tree warden Bruce Lindsay and the Westport Tree Board. While adjacent to Earthplace, ir is a separate entity. It’s funded largely by grants, donations, and some support from the town budget.

Rich Stein, Tom Ryan, Chip Stephens, Sharon Paulsen, Wendy Cusick, Walker Stollenwerck and Darcy Sledge all identified the spot, from the few small rocks and vegetation shown in Miggs Burroughs’ photo.

They know and love the Wadsworth Arboretum. You should too! (Click here for last week’s Photo Challenge image. Click here for an “06880” story about the land.)

The next Photo Challenge comes courtesy of David Meth:

(Photo/David Meth)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

Scott Smith Discovers Westport’s Hidden Gems

Scott Smith is an alert “06880” reader, a longtime Westporter and an ardent outdoorsman. He writes:

If you ask Westporters to comment on our community’s natural charms, chances are most would cite the dazzling string of beaches and coastal places: Compo Beach, Sherwood Mill Pond, Gray’s Creek and Burying Hill. If pressed, they might claims Sherwood Island too.

Others would tout the Saugatuck River, from the fly fishing shallows along Ford Road to the impoundment of Lees Pond, and the tidal stretch through town leading to the mouth at Longshore and Cedar Point. Cockenoe Island gets a shout-out, too, especially from those with the nautical means to visit it.

Fishing off Ford Road (Photo/Richard Wiese)

But plenty of other places across Westport beguile with bucolic beauty. Many of these underappreciated open spaces are in the midst of a welcome renaissance, sparked by renovation efforts from those who love and tend them.

I’m talking about the town parks, preserves, land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries that constitute our remaining inland open spaces. Over the past year or two, I’ve visited quite a few. I always come away thinking how fortunate we are to be able to trod upon them.

“06880” has covered these developments over time, noting singular efforts and improvements. But if you step back and tally them all up, it’s quite an impressive list, covering virtually every part of town.

Over in Old Hill there’s the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. I toured it a couple of seasons ago with its caretakers, including Lou Mall and tree warden Bruce Lindsay. They’re spearheading its transformation from an untended patch of blow-downs and invasive vines to a fetching enhancement to the adjacent Earthplace facility.

Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.

Coleytown has the Newman Poses Preserve, which affords a wonderful walk through meadows along the Saugatuck stream and through upland woods. Having the memory of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and their family as you traipse along is a nice bonus. Their neighbors — and the Aspetuck Land Trust — get credit for giving us that open space.

Right near downtown there’s the blossoming of long-neglected Baron’s South, another town-led reclamation project with even brighter prospects in store as a nature-driven arts campus.

A path in Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)

And just down Compo, off Greenacre Road, is the hidden gem of the Haskins Preserve, my longtime favorite place for a weekend stroll.

Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.

I have “06680” to thank for cluing me in to my newest place to take a hike: the Smith Richardson Preserve in Greens Farms. I’ve long known about the 2 parcels north of I-95. The Christmas tree farm off Sasco Creek Road is where I chop down a tree every year. I consider it in part my annual donation to the Connecticut Audubon Society, which manages the farm and the open space across the road.

But I had no idea of the separate property just across 95, a 36-acre parcel stretching from Sasco Creek all the way to the playing fields behind Greens Farms Academy off Beachside Avenue.

I walked it the other day, taking advantage of frozen ground to course through fields that are in the midst of being cleared of smothering vines and other invasive species.

It’s an impressive project, even if the space is hard by the highway and Metro-North rails. Hemmed in by neighboring houses big and small, and what looks to be a refuse depot managed by the railroad or state, the area has the look of a pocket-size Central Park in the making, with Olmstedian trails that wind through woods, and alongside meadows and ponds. I can’t wait to see how the property develops, with its ambitious new plantings and clearings, and whether the caretaking crews can keep the tick-haven invasives at bay.

Smith Richardson Preserve (Photo/Scott Smith)

These public/private corners of our community are all discovered places, at least for me. When I visit them, either with my dog or solo, I’m often the only one around. I like the solitude, and question why I’d even want to spread the word about them. Parking is often a pinch, and I’m not even sure about the proper access to the new Smith Richardson preserve behind GFA’s sprawling athletic fields.

But these largely hidden local natural spaces deserve recognition, and our support for the groups that manage them — the town, Aspetuck Land Trust, and the Connecticut Audubon Society — whether by check or volunteer hand.

Separately and together, they all make Westport a wonderful place to live and to explore.

Pic Of The Day #202

Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, just before Earthplace. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Happy Arbor Day!

It’s not exactly Christmas, or the 4th of July.

But Arbor Day is tomorrow. And Westport won’t let the holiday pass unnoticed.

From 2-5 p.m. (Friday, April 29), the Westport Tree Board will (wo)man a table at the new (and very beautiful) Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stonybrook Road and Woodside Avenue). Tree warden Bruce Lindsay will hand out seedlings: 200 flowering dogwood, 100 Norway spruce and 100 river birch. Planting instructions are included.

It’s first-come, first-serve. But don’t worry about waiting in line. There’s plenty of shade.

(Thanks to Eversource Energy, for making Friday’s seedling giveaway possible.)

Staples High School students recently helped maintain the trails -- and trees at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.

Staples High School students recently helped maintain the trails — and trees at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.