May 19, 2022

Lyme Land Trust Announces Two New Programs for Kids

The beautiful Banningwood Preserve is where Lyme Land Trust’s new Sapling Club will meet on second Saturdays o the month.

LYME — The Lyme Land Trust will offer two monthly groups for children beginning March 13, 2021 and meeting the second Saturday of each month ( April 10, May 8, June 12).  The clubs will be directed by two volunteers, Regan Stacey and Angel Santos Burres. Both have children in the Lyme-Old Lyme school district.

Environmentalist/artist Stacey currently runs the Tree Collective, a Lyme Land Trust program for teens. Most recently, Santos Burres was the director of Outdoors Rx, a program of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

For elementary school-aged kids, the Sapling Club will provide outside play and adventure in the forest. The group will meet every second Saturday of the month from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Banningwood Preserve, Town Street, Lyme. 

Parents are welcome to stay or drop-off.

For middle-schoolers, the Hiking Club provides exploration of the natural world at a different preserve each month. It meets every second Saturday per month at 3 to 4:30 p.m., beginning March 13 at Banningwood Preserve. 

Registration required. To register for either club, contact:

For more information about these and upcoming events:

Environmental ‘Estuary’ Magazine Celebrates First Anniversary, Secures $50K Grant to Promote Greater Collaboration Among CT River Watershed Non-Profits 

OLD LYME — In its first year, Estuary, a quarterly magazine headquartered in Old Lyme, Conn., available in both print and online versions, has published over 50 in-depth stories about science (in lay-reader terms), history, personalities, wildlife and opportunities for recreation in  the Connecticut River watershed.

The magazine also reports on major environmental trends and current events in the watershed. 

This environmental start-up recently partnered with the Connecticut River Conservancy in Greenfield, Mass. to raise $50,000 in a seed grant from The Endeavor Foundation of New York City, N.Y. 

The grant was awarded to the Center for International Management Education (CIME), a 501(c)3 based in Old Lyme, which was founded in 1990 by Barbara and Dick Shriver to, “Promote democracy and free enterprise inside the Soviet Union.”  

The CIME non-profit is the parent of Old Lyme’s Mentoring Corps for Community Development (MCCD).  Dick Shriver is the president of CIME.

Dick Shriver, Publisher of ‘Estuary’ magazine and president of Center for International Management Education (CIME).

The intent of the $50,000 grant is to develop the rationale, and lay the groundwork for, a ‘Connecticut River  Watershed Ecological Restoration and Stewardship Collaborative,’ says Dick Shriver, the publisher of Estuary.

In addition to CIME and the Connecticut River Conservancy, the concept-development team also includes Audubon Vermont in Huntington, Vt.

Asked whether the grant would deal with any specific restoration efforts, Dick Shriver explained that was not the case, but rather, “The grant intends to demonstrate that greater collaboration between all of the governmental and non-profit efforts in the watershed — plus greater promulgation of what’s working — will improve the collective result [of their efforts.]

That result in turn, Shriver added, will hopefully, “… warrant a large multi-year Master Grant to institutionalize such collaboration and promulgation.”

The concept team is developing the case to attract a group of foundation and government funders to invest $25-$50 million in the watershed over a period of 10 years.

The collaborative is expected to operate as a pass-through grant with a bare-bones organization that evaluates proposals and distributes funds to restoration and stewardship projects, which maximize the future well-being of the Connecticut River watershed.  

The watershed in this instance, Shriver noted, refers to, “The entire river, all tributaries, and the land that extends to the divide between neighboring watersheds such as the Housatonic, Hudson or Thames.”

Shriver commented, “We are extremely gratified by this contribution by The Endeavor Foundation to a brighter future for the 2 million people and incredible natural resources and wildlife of the watershed.”

Estuary’s delivery months for its print version are March, June, September and December; back  issues and a blog are accessible online on its website at  

For additional information about the seed grant, contact the project coordinator, Dr. Andrew  Fisk, Executive Director, Connecticut River Conservancy, at

For subscription information for Estuary magazine, visit or contact Kyle Hudson, Director of Subscriptions at

Old Lyme Harbor Commission Now Accepting 2021 Mooring Applications

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Harbor Commission is now accepting applications for 2021 moorings in Town waters.

Beginning in May, the Harbor Master will commence routine checks of the mooring fields of the Local Waters. Boaters are reminded that moorings without valid permits and/or those that do not comply with the Old Lyme Harbor Ordinance standards for placement or identification may be removed from service without notice, and the associated removal and storage costs will be the owner’s responsibility.

The cost is $25 for the permit, and Proof of Tackle Compliance provided by a qualified Inspector is required.

Additional information and forms are available at

Any questions regarding the process can be sent via e-mail to Tom Meyer  at

Photographer Leads Walk Through Thach Preserve in Lyme, Feb 27; Join to Experience Changing Light

Light over Lyme. Photo by Joe Standart.

LYME — 2/20 UPDATE: This walk has been postponed from Feb. 20 to Feb. 27. The walk is full — send an email to be put on the waiting list. Join a walk through the Thach Preserve, guided by photographer Joe Standart this Saturday, Feb. 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. to experience light before and after the sun sets.

Reservations are required. To register, email

Space is limited to 10 people including the leaders. Be safe- wear a mask when meeting in the parking lot. Social distancing guidelines will be followed.

The walk is part of the Lyme Land Trust amateur photography program: Imagining Lyme – A Visual Exploration of Lyme’s Preserves, which encourages people to expand their visual awareness while highlighting the beauty of Lyme Preserves through photographs. For more information, visit

The deadline for submission of photos for the fall/winter season using the category “Light” is March 19, 2021. Three photos of distinction will be chosen.

The Thach Preserve is located at 131 Brush Hill Rd., Lyme CT.


‘Pollinator Pathway’ Chapter Started in Lyme

A new chapter of this national effort has been established in Lyme. The Lyme Land Trust and the Lyme Public Library have joined with other Lyme organizations and individuals to work together and establish patches of pollinator plants and pathways between them.

Do you already have a patch (big or small) to add to the pathway? Or do you want to create one?

A kick-off event will be held Thursday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. titled, Exploring the Importance of Pollinator Pathways.

Learn about Pollinator Pathways in this Zoom presentation with eco-friendly gardening experts Jim Sirch and Mary Ellen Lemay. Pollinator pathways are corridors of pesticide-free native plants that nourish bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which are vital for the health of the planet.

Pollinator pathways are pesticide-free corridors of native plants that provide nutrition and habitat for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which are vital for the health of the planet. These pathways are crucial to biodiversity, the production of healthy crops, and the health of ecosystems that wild animals rely on for food and habitat.
Most native plants require less watering and upkeep than ornamentals and the pollinators you attract will help your other garden plants and vegetables flourish as well.
Watching butterflies fluttering carelessly through our yards, drifting from here to there on a gentle breeze, occasionally stopping to display their colorful murals relieves stress. Why not create an area for them to thrive?
Many Lyme residents have part of their yards that are mostly unused or a patch of grass they are constantly maintaining and can never get just right.
Join this effort to learn about the benefits of pollinator pathways and how you can create your own.

Jim Sirch is Education Coordinator for the Yale Peabody Museum for Natural History. Mary Ellen LeMay owns a company that specializes in the use of natural systems for habitat restoration.

This presentation is free and open to all, brought to you by the Friends of the Lyme Public Library. To register for this program, email You will receive a Zoom link several days before the presentation.

For more information, call the library at 860-434-2272, follow the Lyme Pollinator Pathway Facebook page or email


Join RTPEC’s Three-Part Course on ‘Gulls & Terns’ Starting Today

LYME/OLD LYME — Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center hosts a new three-part session on ‘Gulls and Terns,’ which is part of its “For The Birds” live and interactive virtual series. These live webinars take place on Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. and require the use of Zoom.

Often overlooked on Connecticut’s shore, gulls and terns are some of our most common, yet at the same time, difficult to identify birds. Learn which species call Connecticut home and how to identify them in their various plumages.

Each three-week mini-course will center on a different theme and include an hour-long interactive live webinar per week. This will include a live Q&A as well as access to the webinar recording for the duration of your subscription, resource lists — which will include common species identification — and a list of recommended field guides, apps, and websites.
The price for the course is $30 for members and $45 for non-members.
The schedule for the course is as follows:

Feb. 16 -Week 1:
Discover the adaptations, migration, feeding and breeding habits, conservation and human interactions that make gulls and terns unique.

Feb. 23 -Week 2:
Recognize characteristics and gain understanding in identifying Connecticut’s different gull species.

March 2 -Week 3
Terns are in the same family as gulls and can also be difficult to identify. Wrap up the week with learning how to tell the difference between Connecticut’s tern species.

To register for the course, visit this link.

‘Tour de Lyme’ 2021 Planned for Sept. 5

The 2021 ‘Tour de Lyme’ will be held Sept. 5.

LYME — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that life will hopefully be getting back to a semblance of normalcy by the fall of 2021 and so the Lyme Land Trust has set the date for this year’s Tour de Lyme as Sunday, Sept. 5, during Labor Day Weekend.

The organizers say, “We want to host an event that is as fun as you remember with fantastic rides, food, music and friends!”

More information to follow as it becomes available.

Lyme Land Trust Launches ‘Imagining Lyme’ Photography Program to Increase Visual Awareness

“Lyme Triangle” by Wendolyn Hill.

LYME — The Lyme Land Trust program Imagining Lyme: A Visual Exploration of Lyme’s Preserves encourages everyone to expand their visual awareness and highlight the beauty of the Lyme preserves owned by the Lyme Land Trust, the Town of Lyme and The Nature Conservancy.

The method of doing this is by taking photographs prompted by inspiration from Joe Standart, a professional photographer and Land Trust Board Member.

There will be a different category each season, with related tips from Standart. Explore the details, watch videos of his photography tips, and try the first challenge, all of which can be found at this website.

The first challenge, for Fall/Winter 2020-2021, is “Light: How to use light to express a mood.” The deadline for submission of photos for the first challenge is March 19, 2021. 

A new challenge for the Spring season will be announced on March 20.

All submitted photos will be showcased in an online gallery hosted by the Land Trust. Three “Photos of distinction” in each specific category will be chosen quarterly based upon the criteria of emotional impact and creative design.   

A ‘Photo of the Year’ will be chosen by the Lyme Land Trust membership.  Those chosen will also receive a framed print of their photo.

Rules and upload instructions are on the website.

Old Lyme Joins Growing Pollinator Pathway Initiative with ‘Pollinate Old Lyme!’

OLD LYME — A town-wide initiative in Old Lyme will give migrating birds and butterflies a more bountiful stopping ground this year. Pollinate Old Lyme! launches Jan. 26 with two free presentations via online Zoom meetings open to the public. The one-hour Zoom presentations will be held at 12 noon and 6 p.m. and require pre-registration via email. 

Created by the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s Sustainable Old Lyme Team, the initiative is part of a growing national effort to establish pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for wildlife.

A growing number of people want to support pollinating insects and birds, but they don’t know where to start, or they need help along the way. We’re going to make it easier and fun to do as a community,” said Suzanne Thompson, a gardener and co-leader of the Pollinate Old Lyme! initiative.

She adds, “Simple actions can add up to big benefits for our natural ecosystem. So many people took up vegetable gardening and really got back out into nature this past year. We see that continuing in 2021, so we’re looking forward to sharing ideas and information across our community.”

The Old Lyme initiative is part of Pollinator Pathway Northeast (, with its geographic focus on Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. The program emphasizes including native plants and trees on one’s property, managing invasive species, reducing or eliminating pesticide and herbicide use, and practicing pollinator-friendly lawn care. There are activities for non-gardeners, too; “green thumbs” are not required.

Pollinators, including native bumblebees, and species of butterflies, insects, birds, and bats are threatened with extinction due to the loss of their natural habitats that provide food and shelter, widespread use of pesticides and other lawn chemicals, and climate change.

Pollinate Old Lyme! will encourage residents to take steps to support pollinators which live or migrate through these habitats. Simple actions such as adding native plants to flower boxes or choosing to keep native oaks, maples and shrubs contribute to this ecosystem.

Residents will see an increase in butterflies and birds in their backyards by planting Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies or Cardinal Flower for hummingbirds. Many species of pollinators depend on specific native plants for food and survival.

The Jan. 26 web presentations will introduce Old Lyme residents to the new initiative and share simple ways they can be a part of the regional “pollinator pathway” which links individual properties and gardens along with public lands and open spaces. Participants will be invited to add their location to a virtual map of the Northeast Pathway.

Over a dozen Old Lyme organizations, including the Duck River Garden Club, the Roger Tory Petersen Estuary Center, and the Old Lyme-PGN Library, are participating by hosting anchor gardens and providing educational opportunities during 2021.

Email to sign up for either the 12 or 6 p.m. web presentations and to receive Zoom log-in information. Other questions and information can also be found by emailing

Zoning Commission Approves Change of Use for Bee & Thistle to Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Old Lyme’s Zoning Commission has approved plans for the former Bee and Thistle Inn to become the new home of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.

OLD LYME — At their monthly meeting held virtually Monday evening, the Old Lyme Zoning Commission approved the applications by the Connecticut (CT) Audubon Society that will enable the former Bee and Thistle Inn at 100 Lyme St. to be converted to the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center’s (RTPEC) new headquarters.

The CT Audubon Society had submitted both Special Permit and Municipal Coastal Site Plan Review Applications requesting that permission be granted for the use of the property for non-profit and educational activities.

Michael Cronin, the Society’s attorney, told the commission that Tom Metcalf, the engineer for the Planning and Zoning Commission, had reviewed the site plan and approved it. Cronin noted that his client, “is not proposing to do anything different to the exterior of the property.”

Asked to describe the RTPEC plans for the interior of the building, Cronin responded that the first floor would comprise a Discovery Center, a general “laboratory,” and display rooms. He added that the second floor would be designated as offices while the third floor would be a storage area.

Cronin stressed that use of the property as ‘educational’ is a conforming use and also that the Society was seeking rapid approval of its request since, “a condition of sale of the property is that it must close before Dec. 31 [of this year.]”

Commission member Jane Marsh asked whether there were any plans for residential use of the property since Old Lyme Fire Marshal David Roberge had identified that a cottage on the property could be used as a residence. Cronin replied that if residential use were desired in the future, a separate application would be made at the time.

Cronin went on to say there was “major support” for the conversion of the former inn to the RTPEC Educational Center and headquarters. He mentioned that the Florence Griswold Museum — the immediate neighbor to the south — had offered “enthusiastic support,” and the Hamilton and Noyes families respectively to the north had written “nice letters of support.”

Torrance Downes of the Gateway Commission had also expressed his support while Ledge Light Health District had confirmed they did not see the proposal as a change of use.

Cronin then called on Claudia Weicker, chair of the RTPEC Regional Board and wife of Connecticut former governor Lowell Weicker, to speak. She said, “The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is very much excited about the property. This opportunity to combine the outside environment with an indoor facility offers space for scientific studies and exploring the latest thinking.”

Weicker added, “Here on the banks of the Lieutenant River … art, science and the river come together,” and will provide, “a legacy to the community … a place to turn to nature for distraction from the world around us … to find meaning in this world.”

She concluded that the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is set, “to become something important in the town of Old Lyme.”

The commission approved the proposal unanimously noting the requirement for a traffic study was waived, the approval of 49 additional parking spaces was deferred until they were required, designation for water-dependent use was deemed adequate and that no residential use is permitted at this time.

Gardening with The English Lady for December: “The Last Month so be the Best One”  

Winter is here … so what to do in the garden?

Hello everyone; so much to do and so little time in this holiday season.

Remember to breathe, stretch and take time out for yourself each day. On a pleasant December day, you can be in the garden and you can still plant your spring bulbs. The earth is still workable so enjoy the fresh air and the gentle exercise to work off your Thanksgiving feast and before you indulge in the Holiday festivities. 

Think spring … but plant in winter!  Photo by Sarah Mitchell-Baker on Unsplash.

Plant the bulbs three times as deep as they measure upright.  For example, the Daffodils should be planted nine inches down below the frost line. I suggested last month for you to have a bag of composted manure in the shed or garage to spread around the bulb area after planting.   However, if you do not have the manure right now, then when the bulbs peak up from the soil in spring, you can obtain the composted manure and sprinkle it around the emerging bulbs.

At this moment, I am sitting in my armchair with a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea and from the kitchen I am inhaling the air fragrant with cloves.  This is an old family tradition that each December I fill my great grandmother’s brass saucepan with water – add whole cloves – bring it to the boil, then turn it down to simmer.  The fragrance is wonderful memory of Christmas in the kitchen in gran’s thatched roof cottage on the grounds of our plant nursery in England. 

Back on this side of The Pond, in early winter before heavy snow falls or even on a sunny day with snow on the ground, there are construction projects that can be done – patios, decks, ponds, and dry stonewalls to repair and build. By accomplishing these tasks in winter, you will be ready to plant in spring. 

With that being said, if you are not into heavy work, I suggest you call a landscape company that you trust to give you an estimate for your project. In fact, if you would like get in touch with my son Ian, at for an estimate or a consult on design for the spring. As Ian tells me that there is a scarcity of building supplies because of the pandemic, which might hinder your projects for your garden, unless you act right now.

Snow fell this week (the photo above shows Lyme Street on Thursday, Dec. 17) so I hope you have the snow shovel handy or perhaps you require a new one? If so, buy a lightweight wood handled and plastic shovel instead of heavy metal. When the storm has passed and you ready for cleanup, don’t load the shovel heavily, scoop lighter loads. You will get done faster and with less aches and pains, or chance of injury.

If you are not able to clear the snow yourself from driveways, walkways and steps; I’m sure there are some teenagers in your neighborhood who would be willing to help you out. We need the moisture of the snow for the soil and our plants and  hope we also get a good amount of rain to carry us through to spring.  

If you have not already done so, mulch and manure around the trunks of roses, mound at least six to nine inches up the stems. As I mentioned earlier, buy a few extra bags of mulch and topsoil and store them in the garage or shed.  

Tie down the long whip like rose canes of climbers to supporting structures so they are not broken off in strong winds. If the shrub roses are planted in an exposed area, cover them with a rose cone or if they are larger, cover lightly with burlap until April.  

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I just walked into my living room to check on my Amaryllis bulbs – these particular bulbs have striped blooms (see photo above.)  Amaryllis can be enjoyed for a long time with little effort.  As the flower buds begin to open, remove the pollen bearing anthers with tweezers, before they begin to shed, this will add days to the flowering period and remember to water.

Once the bloom is finished, deadhead it, remove the bulb from the soil and let it dry off. Store in a cool dark basement or some other cool dry place at about 55 degrees for ten weeks without watering.  When you want to start it again pot up the bulb tightly in fresh potting soil and begin to water again.  By the way, Amaryllis is poisonous so do not let children or animals eat the flowers.

Outside my kitchen window I can see the holly bush with lovely red berries, some of which I cut to decorate the house.  Holly is a good weather predictor; few berries mean a mild winter, whilst many berries denote a harsh one.  My red and black friends, the ladybugs, have begun to come indoors, earning their keep by consuming white fly and aphids, which often gather on houseplants.   

Photo by Jonathan Diemel on Unsplash.

In my home,  I am planting up my first group of paper white narcissus this week to get a head start on bloom in a few weeks.  I store two dozen bulbs in the vegetable keeper of the refrigerator, away from the food.  I plant half of them now and store the rest in a paper bag in the refrigerator, away from food, to plant later. With this method I will have continuous bloom and fragrance through the winter months. By keeping the bulbs in the refrigerator, they stay dormant, until planted. 

I plant my bulbs in pebbles, with just enough pebbles to anchor the bulbs and enough depth for the roots to grow. Cram a lot of bulbs in the pot so they are touching – the more bulbs, the more vibrant the display. Make sure the bulb pots do not have drainage holes; if they do, cover the holes with shards of broken pots.  

I place the planted bulbs in a dark cool room, keeping the pebbles moist at all times. When the shoots of the narcissus are about six inches tall I take the vases into another cool room on the south side of the house. I place them about six feet away from the window in indirect light where they remain, keeping the pebbles moist until the buds appear. When the buds appear and the stems are about 12 inches tall, bring them into the area of the house to be enjoyed. Still placed about six foot from a sunny window and away from draughts and heat. Keep the soil or pebbles moist.

I know that the stems of paper whites get leggy and often topple over. My tall glass vases do not allow this to occur but if you don’t have tall containers, here is a suggestion to keep the plant upright. An English gardening colleague of mine gave me his ‘gin tip’.  He pours a dessertspoon of gin (not the expensive stuff) on the soil or pebbles around the plants every couple of weeks after he has watered them. This limits the height of the stems so they do not collapse and the gin does not affect the bloom.

On the subject of alcohol, another tip my grandmother whispered is to add a few drops of brandy or port to invigorate potpourri that has gone stale. Personally, I pour a few drops of either lemon oil or lavender oil on the potpourri. 

I know that many of you spread salt on walkways, driveways to thaw ice. However, the salt ruins plants, when it seeps into borders.  Use an alternative like unscented kitty litter or sand that works well. In spring, just hose off steps and paths; the sand and kitty litter are good additions to your soil.

There is still time to prune dead or diseased branches from established deciduous trees and shrubs, its easier task to do at this time of year, as you are able to see what needs to be done without foliage obstructing your view. If you would like to have a fall pruning, call a reputable arborist to give you a quote and whose team will come and use their practiced eyes to give you a great result.    

Last winter, squirrels, raccoons or whoever, got into the birdseed in the milk shed.  I bought out the supermarket’s supply of cayenne pepper that week and sprinkled it everywhere to keep the marauders at bay. This trick will also keep those critters out of your garbage. I also sprinkle cayenne pepper in the bird seeders for the feeders and on the suet blocks – the heat of the pepper does not affect the birds – they do not feel the heat.   

To keep moths and bugs away from cupboards and in clothes, collect some remaining herbs still available perhaps sage and lavender. Tie them into bunches with string and slip over a hanger in your closet or in drawers. I put bunches of dried sage in my closets and drawers just this week. Insects do not like fragrance and will keep away. 

The few bags of soil, mulch and soil in the garage or shed will be useful after a heavy frost. Often the frost heaves plants above the soil and exposes the roots. The plants roots can be covered and protected with the soil and mulch, until they can be resettled again when spring arrives.   

When a plant is knocked askew by wind, ice or snow, do not be in a hurry to straighten it, quite often the plant will bounce back on its own. However, uprooted trees or shrubs should be straightened immediately, staked and mulched, If the ground is frozen, cover the exposed roots with topsoil, and mulch and reset the plant in the spring. When snow is heavy on the branches of the evergreens gently brush the snow off with a broom.  Gently being the operative word.   

When you receive or buy cut flowers during the holiday you want them to last. To accomplish this, vases need to be squeaky clean.  If there is a build up of dirty residue that regular soap and water wont budge, try adding a little coarse sand to dislodge the mucky residue then use soap and rinse well.  For a narrow- or globe-shaped vase, use a bottlebrush. 

Photo by Jessica Johnston on Unsplash.


Poinsettias – I get lot of questions about how to keep them alive.  

A close friend has kept the same poinsettia alive for eight years. After blooming, she places the plant in a cool room watering when the top of the soil feels dry, then in late May puts it, in its container in the garden. In September she brings it into her porch and begins gentle watering. 

By November, the blooms appear for yet another holiday season. A combination I enjoy is poinsettias in a container with ivy and forced spring bulbs.  

I was always curious as to how Poinsettias got their name. Last year I heard an old story on that very subject. It goes like this:

In a tiny village in Mexico, the tradition on Christmas Eve was to put gifts before the Crèche at the Church.  A poor young boy, who had nothing to offer, went outside and knelt in the snow praying for a gift to give the newborn king.  Where he knelt, a beautiful plant with vivid scarlet leaves appeared beside him and the boy joyfully presented his gift to the Christ Child.  Thus, Mexicans call the plant Flor de la Noche Buena (Flower of the Holy Night), as many believe the plant resembles the Star of Bethlehem.  Dr Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first minister to Mexico in the 1830’s brought the plant to the United States and it is for him that the plant is now named.’

On a delicious note to end my tips this – I present my recipe for English trifle – a simply scrumptious dessert at Christmas!


This dessert is made of layers, made over a three-day period; it requires this length of time for each layer to set. I use a nine- inch tall glass bowl, as the appearance of this dessert is as mouth-watering as the taste.  


2 pints of strawberries or raspberries  (you can use frozen strawberries or raspberries, and omit the sugar)
2 tablespoons of sugar on fresh fruit
1-package ladyfingers or sponge cake or pound cake
1-cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry (omit the sherry if you do not want the alcohol) instead use water to make the Jell-O
1 small package strawberry or raspberry-flavored Jell-O
1 small package of vanilla custard mix or Birds English custard (see note)
1 pint whipped cream

Combine washed and drained fresh strawberries/raspberries and sugar in a bowl and set aside at room temperature for about an hour.

In a 9-inch glass bowl, cover the bottom of the bowl with ladyfingers or sponge cake or pound cake, cut into 2-inch slices.  Drain the strawberries, and reserve the juice.  Cover the cake with the fruit.

Add sherry to the reserved fruit juice to make one cup.  Prepare Jell-O using the fruit juice-sherry mixture as the cold-water part of the Jell-O mix, and hot water for the other part.  Pour the Jell-O over the fruit and cake layer, then refrigerate until it sets (usually about two hours or overnight).

When the Jell-O is set, prepare the custard and spread over the cake/fruit/Jell-O layer.  Refrigerate until custard is set.  

The day you serve the trifle spread a thick layer of unsweetened whipped cream over the top.    

If you are serving more people, repeat the cake, fruit, and Jell-O layers and top with the whipped cream.  

The nine-inch bowl serves 6 to 8.

Note: I use Birds English Custard mix, which can be found in specialty food stores and most supermarkets.  

Have a wonderful Holiday and I’ll see you in your garden in January.  Be safe and well and please follow the safety rules of wearing masks, being socially distant and wash hands.

Maureen Haseley-Jones is “The English Lady.”

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, ‘The English Lady Landscape and Home Company.’ Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.
Contact Maureen at

Volunteers Decorate Gillette Castle State Park for the Holidays

Laura Borg decorates the courtyard around Gillette Castle.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – Members of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park spent a recent weekend decorating the grounds and exterior of the late William Gillette’s mansion at 67 River Road.

The group included Jack Hine, the park’s supervisor, and staff member Sarah Lucey, as well as Friends members Laura Borg, Lynn Wilkinson and Dorothy Millen. Borg purchased the decorations and donated them to the effort.

The mansion itself is closed to the public but visitors may stroll about the grounds to view the decorations from 8 a.m. until sunset daily through Jan. 2, 2021.

Harold “Tyke” and Theodora “Teddie” Niver also are expected be on hand Sunday afternoons during the holiday season to greet and entertain visitors while portraying William and Helen Gillette.

The popular tourist destination is nestled atop the “Seventh Sister” hill in the towns of East Haddam and Lyme along the Connecticut River.

The Friends of Gillette Castle State Park is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group dedicated to the preservation, conservation and educational activities of the building and its grounds.

More information may be found at

CT Audubon to Buy ‘Bee & Thistle Inn’ in Old Lyme, Plans to Renovate it as Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center HQ

OLD LYME — (Press release issued by CT Audubon) The Connecticut Audubon Society and its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) will soon have a new facility in Old Lyme to continue to carry out the regional conservation, science research and education work that began five years when the RTPEC was established.

The organization has reached an agreement to buy the former Bee and Thistle Inn, at 100 Lyme St. The plan is to create an environmental education center for people of all ages. It will become the Estuary Center’s new headquarters and will include a room for public talks and workshops, a location for summer day camp, and a staging area for research on the ecology of the estuary.

The RTPEC offices, which are currently at 90 Halls Rd., will move to the new facility as well.

The 5.25-acre site is on the Lieutenant River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. It includes a wetland area and offers river access to the local 56-acre section of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

The RTPEC has developed a strong reputation in its five years based on a succession of successful programs. The Center currently reaches 5,000 young people and adults across the region through environmental education programs at schools, online and in the field.

“The RTPEC is one of our jewels, and this new facility is in a perfect location for a nature center that focuses on the estuarine environment,” said Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins. “We can’t wait to introduce people to its birds and wildlife, and to use it as a launching area for more great outings. The volunteers who had the vision to establish the center in 2015 and then to keep building on its success deserve all the credit for this.”

Connecticut Audubon is planning a  comprehensive campaign to cover the purchase price to renovate the building for visitors, and to preserve this landmark for the community. The goal is to open the new facility within 12 to 18 months.

Claudia Weicker, chair of the RTPEC Regional Board, said that the new facility’s location, next to the Florence Griswold Museum, was particularly appropriate.

“Our commitment to conservation of the Connecticut River estuary and of Long Island Sound is as strong as ever,” she said. “We focus on the environment and education, in particular, and, in doing so, we relate the importance of nature to the history and culture of our area. This location, next to the home of Miss Florence Griswold, revives the synergy that existed between America’s great art colony and the beauty of the natural world.”

The Center is named after Roger Tory Peterson, the artist, writer, teacher, and conservationist, who lived and worked in Old Lyme. Peterson’s acclaimed field guides to birds and nature are widely known and recognized as iconic in their field.

Two of the Center’s most successful programs will continue to take place elsewhere. Its spring and fall lecture series regularly draws overflow crowds to local auditoria to hear nationally-known experts on birds, estuary science and other conservation topics.

The Science in Nature outdoor education program will continue to be taught at area schools, natural areas within walking distance of schools, and through distance learning.

Those two off-site programs will complement the offerings at the new center, said Alisha Milardo, the director of the RTPEC.

“The residents of southeastern Connecticut have an abiding interest and enthusiasm for environmental conservation programs,” she said, adding, “Our education, science research and advocacy programs have received great support and we’re confident that at this new location we will be able to expand our offerings for the community.”

‘Coastal Cleanup’ at Old Lyme’s White Sand Beach Generates 78 Pounds of Garbage

Help to keep White Sand Beach beautiful. Join a Beach Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 19!

OLD LYME — UPDATED Sept. 21: After the Clean-Up Event was held this past Saturday, Sept. 19, organizer Marie Ryan expressed her thanks to all who volunteered, saying on her Facebook page, ” Many, many thank you’s to all the wonderful people who volunteered in the International Coastal Clean Up Day, Save the Sound at White Sand Beach today.”

She added, “We collected 78 pounds (!) of garbage and truly made a difference for our lovely beach and coastline.”

Are you concerned with the state of our environment? Do you want to help do your part to preserve our coastlines? Will you commit to ‘Strive to Stop the Spread of Litter in the Long Island Sound’?

Then join Marie Ryan of Old Lyme and Reynolds’ Subaru of Lyme in a volunteer coastal cleanup of White Sand Beach in Old Lyme on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. For further details, contact Marie at or call her at 860-304-3334.

This volunteer event is part of Save the Sound’s annual coastal cleanup efforts.  Save the Sound organizes cleanup events every fall. The Connecticut Cleanup is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, which takes place each year within the months of September and October. Volunteers are needed to remove trash and collect data that will be used to help stop debris at its source. 

There are additional opportunities to assist this effort apart from at White Sand Beach. Find a complete list of cleanups throughout the state at this link, choose your beach and then register. Save the Sound will follow up with details about how to connect with your beach’s Cleanup Captain on the day of the event.

For more information about Save the Sound’s Coastal Cleanup program, visit or call Save the Sound’s Volunteer Coordinator, Annalisa Paltauf, at (203) 787-0646, Ext.116

Last year, Save the Sound’s Coastal Cleanup program helped bring together 2,554 volunteers, who removed 6,017 pounds of trash from over 78 miles of Connecticut shoreline. Volunteers will remove trash and collect data that will be used to help stop debris at its source.

Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Presents the ‘Great Eats’ Raffle, Benefits Conservation Efforts

Gift certificates at a variety of shoreline eateries valued at $400 each are on offer as prizes in the ‘Great Eats’ raffle hosted by the RTPEC.. Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash.

OLD LYME — Purchase a Great Eats raffle ticket and support the conservation of our land, waters and the species that inhabit them.

Enter for a chance to win a gift certificate to some of the Shoreline’s finest eateries, valued at $400 each. Certificates will offered from eateries including:

  • Alforno Trattoria & Bar,
  • Atlantic Seafood,
  • Bar Bouchee,
  • Carlson’s Landing,
  • Fromage Fine Foods,
  • Griswold Inn & Wine Bar,
  • La Marea,
  • Liv’s Oyster & Restaurant
  • Old Lyme Inn
  • Pasta Vita Inc,
  • The River Tavern,
  • Rustica Restaurante,
  • Weekend Kitchen

Only 250 tickets will be sold.

Winners will be notified Oct 8, 2020 via email.

Raffle funds will benefit shoreline restaurants and support the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center’s efforts to strengthen the Southeastern Connecticut community and environment using three complementary approaches: Education, Research and Advocacy.

Drawings will be held on October 8, 2020 at 5 p.m. and can be seen on Facebook Live.

Purchase tickets at

Volunteers Invited to Join CT River Conservancy’s ‘Source to Sea’ Cleanup Through September

GREENFIELD, MA/ LYME, CT/ OLD LYME, CT– (From a press release sent by the CRC)  Registration is now open for the Connecticut River Conservancy’s (CRC) Source to Sea Cleanup. This annual event, now in its 24th year, has grown into one of the largest river cleanups in the country.

The CRC invites volunteers to safely continue the tradition of getting dirty for cleaner rivers in September. The banks of the Connecticut River in Lyme and Old Lyme have both been Cleanup sites in previous years.

For more information, event safety guidelines, or to register for the Cleanup visit

“The Source to Sea Cleanup strengthens community while cleaning up our rivers and streams. It’s an opportunity for you to make a difference,” says CRC Executive Director Andrew Fisk. “When people help clean their rivers, they make lasting connections with each other and with their rivers.”

The annual Source to Sea Cleanup is a river cleanup coordinated by CRC in all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin (NH, VT, MA, CT).

This year’s Cleanup continues throughout September, rather than the typical two-day event, for better social distancing of volunteers. “We’re excited to work with volunteers to tackle trash, even during the pandemic. We’ve redesigned the event to keep everyone as safe as possible while still making a difference for cleaner rivers,” says Stacey Lennard, CRC Cleanup Coordinator.

Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails and more. In 2019, more than 3,600 volunteers hauled nearly 67 tons of trash from riverbanks and waterways across our four river states.

Volunteers remove everything from recyclable bottles and cans, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions, and refrigerators. To date, volunteers have removed more than 1,167 tons of trash from our rivers.

“There are lots of ways to get involved,” continues Lennard. “Volunteers can report a trash site in need of cleaning, organize and register your own local cleanup group, or be a #RiverWitness on social media. Join us to celebrate our collective efforts – together yet apart – at a virtual Source to Sea Shindig on Sept. 30 to wrap up the Cleanup.”

New this year, CRC added #RiverWitness to help people connect with each other online through their shared concern for and appreciation of our rivers. Take a photo or video when you are at the river, participating in the Source to Sea Cleanup or enjoying time outside. Or make art inspired by river beauty or river pollution. Share on social media, include #RiverWitness and tag Connecticut River Conservancy.

If you’re not on social media, share images on CRC’s website: Your images will be added to an online mosaic photo display and video. Select images will be used to call on decision-makers to enact trash solutions to keep trash out of our rivers.

If your group wants to get involved but needs a cleanup site, if you have questions, or if you know of a trash site in need of cleaning, contact CRC’s Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard at

Learn more about the event at

Since 1952, the CRC has been the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. They collaborate with partners across four states to protect and advocate for your rivers and educate and engage communities. They bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of your rivers and streams. Healthy rivers support healthy economies.

To learn more about CRC, or to make a contribution to help protect your rivers, visit

Thoughts from CRC Executive Director Andrew Fisk on the national trash problem

“After cleaning up 1,167 tons of trash over the past 23 years, it’s clear that repeated cleaning is not the solution to our trash problem,” says CRC Executive Director Andrew Fisk. “Consumers need to avoid single use items. And it’s time for the businesses who created and have been profiting from this trash to now help solve the problem through fundamental redesign of how our products are made and disposed of.”

The CRC insists we need to redesign our economy so there isn’t waste in the first place and that it is time businesses step up voluntarily to do the right thing by offering more sustainable, reusable, recyclable, and compostable options. “As individuals, we should always properly dispose of and recycle our waste,” continues Fisk. “And it’s time that corporations also take responsibility for their role in trashing our rivers.” 

As consumers, we have been trained by businesses to rely on unnecessary disposable and single-use plastics. Meanwhile, businesses and manufacturers are profiting by making these products out of cheap, petroleum-based plastic that is harmful and doesn’t easily break down. Producers and manufacturers then pass the responsibility and disposal costs for the products they make to the consumers, which lead to litter and polluted rivers.  

According to CRC, the best way businesses and corporations can cut down on their products becoming litter in our rivers is to offer more reusable options, like coffee mugs and drink cups. Additionally, bio-plastics are emerging as a promising alternative to plastic made from fossil fuels.

There are plenty of eco-friendly cups and dishware items on the market that businesses should be using. These new plastics are compostable, break down in the marine environment as food, are made from waste, and are made with less energy and environmental impact than traditional petroleum plastics.  

“We all have a responsibility to solve this problem,” says Fisk. “We are responsible as consumers to make good choices in how we purchase and dispose of products. Manufacturers, businesses, and government are also responsible and it’s time they do their part.”

Fisk continues, “By working together, we can make a real difference for our rivers. These ideas are going to take time, decades even. And we’ll keep at it as long as it takes. But our rivers need change now.”  

Lyme Land Trust Earns National Recognition

The beautiful Banningwood Preserve is protected and managed by the Lyme Land Trust.

LYME — The Lyme Land Trust has been protecting open space in Lyme since 1966. In August 2020, the Land Trust was awarded renewal of accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

This distinguished award signifies that the Lyme Land Trust has demonstrated, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts, that it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

The Lyme Land Trust first earned accreditation in December 2014, after being carefully vetted and certified to meet the highest standards of excellence. The granting of renewal affirms the Land Trust’s ongoing commitment to permanent protection of its conserved lands.

Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Lyme Land Trust protects more than 3,124 acres. For public access, it hosts more than 13 miles of trails on 651 acres. In addition, the trust manages over 70 private conservation easements. Popular preserves like Banningwood and Brockway-Hawthorne will be protected forever, making Lyme a great place for lovers of open space.

For more information and for trail maps of all the Lyme Land Trust Preserves, visit

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts.

For more, visit

Bat Tests Positive for Rabies in Lyme

Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash.

LYME — Ledge Light Health Department (LLHD) has reported that a bat from the area of Hamburg Rd. in Lyme was tested and found to be positive for rabies on Sept. 4.

The health department urges the public to refrain from feeding or approaching any wild or stray animals.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including people.  It is spread mostly by wild animals, but stray cats and dogs may also become infected and spread the virus.

The rabies virus lives in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals.  Rabies can be spread by scratches from infected animals or when infected saliva comes into contact with open wounds, breaks in the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.)

If you have any questions or concerns, contact LLHD at 860-448-4882 or Lyme Town Hall at 860-434-7733.

Watch Rock Preserve in Old Lyme Closed Weekends Through Labor Day Due to Environmental, Safety Violations

A hazy view across the Connecticut River taken from the Elizabeth B. Carter Watch Rock Preserve. Photo by Edie Twining.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Land Trust (OLLT) Board of Trustees has announced that the Elizabeth B. Carter Watch Rock Preserve in Old Lyme will be closed to all visitors from 7:30 p.m. on each Friday until 8 a.m. the following Monday from June through August. On Labor Day weekend, it will remain closed until 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

These closures are to address continued preserve use violations, which damage the environment and pose safety concerns.

The board states in a press release, “This decision to limit access to Watch Rock has been a difficult one. We recognize that the beautiful Watch Rock setting has long provided significant enjoyment for many visitors who abide by the posted rules.”

A view looking south down the Connecticut River with the Elizabeth B. Carter Watch Rock Preserve on the left shore. Photo by Edie Twining.

The release continues, “However, increasingly frequent and serious incidents of littering, OLLT signage vandalism, theft of newly planted native shrubs, open campfires, and late evening loitering have necessitated visitor access restrictions during the weekend periods when most of these issues occur.”

Noting, “This situation will be closely monitored, including by the police,” the board adds,  The effectiveness of the summer weekend closures will be evaluated to determine if additional steps are needed to prevent misuse and harm to this conservation land.”

In closing, the board says, “We are grateful for the continued understanding and support of all visitors, especially our members.”

Environmental Grants Available from The Rockfall Foundation, Info Session Slated for Sept. 10

MIDDLETOWN/LYME/OLD LYME – The Rockfall Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2021 Annual Environmental Grants Program, available to non-profit organizations, municipalities, and schools. The Environmental Grants are for projects and programs that support the environment through conservation, preservation, restoration or education in the Lower Connecticut River Valley, which includes Lyme and Old Lyme along with Middlesex County.

“Through all the challenges this year, The Rockfall Foundation remains committed to supporting community projects,” said Amanda Kenyon, Grants and Communications Coordinator. She added, “It’s been a hard year for many organizations, and we’re adapting our grants process to acknowledge that. We want to ensure a sustainable future.”

All interested applicants are encouraged to attend a virtual information session on Sept. 10. An RSVP to is required to attend this event in order to receive the video conference link. Applications are due by Nov. 10.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education and conservation in the Lower Connecticut River Valley through public programs and grants. Founded in 1935, the Foundation is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2020. As one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations, it continues its mission set by founding philanthropist Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth.

The Rockfall Foundation has awarded over a half million dollars since the inception of its grant program in 1972. The Rockfall Foundation also operates the historic deKoven House Community Center located at 27 Washington St., Middletown, that offers meeting and event room rentals and office space for non-profit organizations.

Editor’s Notes: i) For further information about The Rockfall Foundation grants, visit

ii) For further information about The Rockfall Foundation, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit or call 860-347-0340.