A beautiful tradition: Flowering baskets return to downtown lamp posts

If you have noticed some extra beauty and color in downtown Darien recently, the Beautification Committee is to be thanked. The committee has been arranging for and placing the baskets of cascading flowers for over a decade.

On May 24, committee members met at 7:30 a.m. at the Goodwives Shopping Center to accept delivery of 184 flowering baskets which were hung throughout downtown Darien and along the Post Road from the area near Starbucks to Noroton. The Department of Public Works crew joins the committee each year to help hang them.

The committee has used the same Long Island nursery for many years, have experimented over the years with the flower and color choice. Suzanne Schutte, commission chairman said “We believe we have come up with the perfect, long living, and beautiful arrangement. Each basket is comprised of a selection of pink, purple, blue and white petunias (traditional New England colors), and is housed in a moss lined basket to retain water.”

Each basket weighs approximately 10 pounds (dry/not watered), so it's both a challenge and great workout to get them all hung, she said.

The commission always has them delivered and hung right before the Memorial Day weekend so that they are visible during the parade. They remain up until the end of September.

“We consider then our "signature" project that the Beautification Commission is best known for,” she said.

A workman is hired to do the ongoing watering and maintenance of the baskets, and due to heavy traffic on the Post Road, he does the watering early in the morning around 5 to 6 a.m.

“We have used him for 6 to 7 years and he does an excellent job keeping them alive and healthy even in the heat of the summer,” Schutte said.

The commission compared notes and use the same watering/maintenance schedule as does New Canaan for their baskets.

Th baskets are not without some complications, however.

In the past, Schutte said they have received calls in the past from the Darien Police saying the baskets had to be taken down for fear that they would become "living projectiles" in the winds of the hurricane blowing through town.

“We also have to be careful on which lampposts we hang the baskets. We cannot block the view of any signage on the lampposts such as parking, state or traffic signs,” Schutte said.

She added that at times residents have gotten tickets because they didn’t see the no parking sign due to the basket.

This year, the commission also purchased 71 plants in coordinating colors to the basket flowers, and will use these to plant 11 urns in town, both in Darien and Noroton Heights.

Commission member Sandy Drimal is responsible for the coordination, purchase, hanging and ongoing maintenance of the baskets and urns.

For more information on the Beautification Commission visit darienct.gov.