With the smell of spring in the air last Friday, volunteers and members of the Darien Beautification Commission fanned out downtown with ladders to hang decorative baskets of flowers from the wrought-iron lamp posts in the commercial district.

The $35 cost for each of the baskets, which are hung from Starbucks Coffee at 815 Post Road to Noroton Avenue, is picked up by the town, said Suzanne Schutte, head of the commission that spearheads the project.

"We find that this is a signature statement that we make in our efforts to beautify the town," Schutte said. "It's something the residents and the shoppers look forward to every year."

The 13 members of the Beautification Commission serve three-year terms, with many of them coming to the job with an ardent love of keeping Darien's greenery well tended.

This year, the 181 hanging baskets took up about $30,000 of the commission's budget, but Sandy Drimal, the commission member who coordinated the project this year, said the effort is well worth it.

"I've been on the Commission for about 10 years and we've been doing it since before that," Drimal said. "It always looks beautiful."

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The commission also runs anAdopt-A-Garden program in town, which allows businesses or residents to sponsor a garden at a site that the commission will plant, fertilize and maintain.