When the editors strolled up to Gerard Pampalone’s beautiful Fairfield garden, we were simply wilting in the summer sun. I know, I know … I’d like to say his gorgeous grounds took our breath away (and they did), but we were momentarily transfixed by the ice cold lemonade on the table.
Cooled and refreshed, we were then ready to regain the manners our parents had once worked so hard on and take in the view. Few things make us speechless, even fewer things make our jaws drop in disbelief. Walking Pampalone’s grounds, though, is like being on a movie set — everything looks too perfect to be real. And yet proof of reality is abundant: petals soft to the touch; bursts of color; fresh, sweet scents. Astilbe, iris, clematis, foxglove, Russian sage — every tree, bush, border plant and flower we had ever heard of is here. Truly, a masterpiece.
Pampalone, of course, is rightfully proud of his creation and welcomed us in over the past year while we worked on this story, even generously providing a list of every plant specimen that grows here.
We learned a lot from Pampalone, especially me. I wasn’t born with a green thumb, you see, but I do enjoy talking to people who tend to plants and flowers. They share common characteristics: organized, smart and, not surprisingly, gentle and nuturing. I might also say “controlling,” but the word is too harsh; it’s more that their creativity allows them to shape a vista or a design, and if a certain hydrangeais misplaced or blooming poorly, they will rip it out and replant it. While it seems ruthless to the untrained eye, I’ve seen it happen too many times with startlingly good results to wince anymore. Gardeners are artists.
I am much more at home on Long Island Sound, so I was thrilled when one of the editors suggested a story on touring the Norwalk Islands. Count me in — anything to help people remember how beautiful the Sound is and how lucky we are to live here.
I have also been rowing up and down the Saugatuck River for years and flipped only twice (one I still claim was not totally my fault). Because so many other town residents have also caught the rowing bug, I knew a story would be of interest. But I wanted a fresh perspective: through relationships. I paired up people at a local club and asked them to talk about their passion for the sport and their admiration for their rowing partners. What I discovered was the heart of rowing, which may be why so many of us stick with it.
Our community shines in the summer sun. Time to get outside and soak it up. Who knows, I might even give my green thumb one more try.