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2011 - Issue 4
Lake Street School Butterfly Garden.

Summer In The Tank

Summer means flowers, gardens and hikes so that's what you'll see featured this issue.

The Vernon Garden Club is hosting their biennial Vernon Garden Tour this weekend on Saturday, July 9, so this seems like a good time to feature their organization and make you aware of the gardens they planted and maintain in the Tankerhoosen Valley.

A new section on Gardens in the Valley has been started and the first entry highlights our newest garden, the Wings Butterfly Garden on Lake Street. This garden features rhododendrons and was in full bloom last month. The web page shows you how it looked then.

You may not think of them as places to visit, but the five cemeteries in the Valley are very picturesque, historical and well maintained. Summer is a good time to explore them.

Recreation and activities are in full swing during the summer. Hiking trails are busy and people are sunning and swimming at Valley Falls Park. Many programs are designed for children including a Nature Camp at Valley Falls Park and weekly nature programs at the Belding Wildlife Management Area. There are also special hikes planned including one this Thursday, July 7 with author CASSANDRA CURLEY on the Rail Trail.

Also in the issue of the newsletter is a Vision for the Tankerhoosen Valley as presented to the Planning & Development Commission and an article on a planned highway that wasn't through the center of Vernon and the Valley.

Jon Roe   

» Go to The Tankerhoosen website.

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People's Garden at TAC.

Vernon Garden Tour

Every two years the Vernon Garden Club conducts a tour of private gardens in Vernon. The 2011 tour is called "Garden Reflection" and will be held Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. rain or shine. This is an opportunity to peek behind the fences and into the backyards of some of Vernon's best gardeners who will share their passion with you.

Although this year's selection of nine gardens does not include any that are within the Tankerhoosen Valley, the base of operations for the day is the Tolland Agricultural Center on Route 30, which is, perhaps, the most underappreciated gem in the Valley. You can buy tickets there on the day of the tour for $20 and enjoy a refreshing glass of lemonade as your soil sample gets tested; or, you can purchase perennials at their plant sale, speak to Master Gardeners, learn more about the Extension Service or Master Gardener Program, and view a display of herbs.

While you are on the TAC grounds take time to explore the rain gardens, spring labyrinth and other experimental areas. Note the Blue-Blazed hiking trail running down the west side of the property and disappearing into the woods at the back corner of the open area. If you feel adventurous follow the trail into the woods where you'll find streams, additional trails, a pond, meadow and educational signs. We'll explore this area online in a future newsletter.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15 locally at the Garden Barn, Ellington Agway and Michelle's Florals.

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Recreation: Other Activities

A summary of the many events that will be taking place during the summer months in the Tankerhoosen Valley. Many are for children while they are on school vacation. The Activities Page on our website lists upcoming events, immediate events are listed at the top of our Home Page and many are also posted on our Facebook Page as a reminder for you.

Peace Walk On Rail Trail

CASSANDRA CURLEY is walking 50 miles in 50 states in 50 weeks to remind people that we have forgotten our true nature of Peace. As a messenger of Peace, her goal is to bring awareness to those open to seeing the World in a New and Unified way.

You are invited to walk with Cassandra for three miles on Vernon's beautiful and historic Rail Trail on Thursday, July 7 at 6 p.m. We'll meet at and hike from the Tankerhoosen Valley's Valley Falls Park to Talcottville. Shuttles back will be provided. Her book will be available for purchase.

You can also meet and hear her speak at Spirit Matters in Ellington on Wednesday, July 6 at 7 p.m., where she will talk about her journey and her book "From Fear to Eternity: A Path to Peace." Cost is $10, including a copy of her book.

Summer Programs For Kids

Each Thursday until August 4 the Belding Wildlife Management Area has a nature program for children. Meet at Bread and Milk Road from 9-11 a.m. for programs on nature photography, insects, stream life, plants and wildlife. Programs are free. Go to Activities for the schedule.

During the summer school vacation the Vernon Parks & Recreation Department runs the weekly Valley Falls Nature Camp from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. each week day at Valley Falls Park. This camp is for children ages 6-12 years old. Campers meet at the Valley Falls Pavilion in the morning and are picked up there in the afternoon. The camp features nature with special explorations in the pond, learn about fishing, excursions on hiking trails, special guest presenters and much more. Campers will also enjoy camp games, arts and crafts, and swim time. You can get more information or register online or call (860) 870-3520.

2010 upper Tankerhoosen River
survey team led by George Arthur.
Invasive Plants Survey

Last July the Vernon Conservation Commission held the Tankerhoosen River Invasive Aquatic Plant Survey to assess whether the fanwort and variable-leaved milfoil in Walker Reservoir East and Valley Falls Pond had migrated downstream. These non-native plants can degrade water quality and wildlife habitat, and impair recreational activities including swimming and fishing. Fortunately, no invasive plants were found beyond a limited population of fanwort at the foot of the Walker Reservoir dam. This August they will complete the river survey to Tankerhoosen Lake. The quieter water in this final reach may be most susceptible to colonization by these plants. You are again invited to join in the effort.

A training session will be held Sunday, August 7 from 1-3 p.m. in the Red Barn at Valley Falls Farm on Valley Falls Road. The training will feature identification of a number of non-native plants that are of concern in the Tankerhoosen River watershed. Surveys will take place on subsequent weekends in August. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and will be asked to sign a waiver of liability. You must register for the training session by July 29 by contacting the Vernon Conservation Commission at conservationcommission@vernon-ct.gov.

» Read Journal Inquirer July 2 article for background.

August 21 Double Header

Two complementary events will be held on Sunday, August 21.

In the morning from 9-11 a.m. the Northern Connecticut Land Trust will hold its first guided hike of the Talcott Ravine pointing out both natural resources and the foundations and walls that remind us of our mill heritage. Tour guide GAIL FAHERTY will have some of SCOTT LENT's photos of the area and the mills.

In the afternoon from 12:30 to 3 p.m. stop by Valley Falls Farm where the Friends of Valley Falls will be hosting their annual Artists' Day At The Farm, including a "plein air" painting and art auction. Paintings will be available for viewing on the site followed by a public auction at 3:30 p.m. Take time to explore the farm, its buildings and the Vernon Garden Club's herb garden.

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Organization: Vernon Garden Club

The Vernon Garden Club was formed in 2000 to stimulate an interest in horticulture, aid in the protection of native trees, birds, wildflowers and promote community spirit, beautification and civic betterment. It's members also participate in many community environmental activities and plant and wildlife endeavors. The club has very active Master Gardeners, birders, hikers and conservationists.

In the Tankerhoosen Valley the club has created the Gateway Gardens on Route 30 at Vernon Circle and Lafayette Square. At the Valley Falls Farm they maintain an herb garden and at Lake Street School they worked with Junior Gardeners to create a Butterfly Garden.

This year they conduct their biennial tour of Vernon Gardens.

If you enjoy gardening and would like to work with and learn from others with a passion for gardening consider becoming a member.

» Go to Vernon Garden Club Profile

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Blog: A Vision For The Tankerhoosen Valley

On June 9, 2011 the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing to present and receive input on the Plan Of Conservation & Development that will be adopted later this year and will guide the town for the next decade.

You'll probably remember June 9. That was the night we had the severe thunder storm, downed trees on our main streets and power outages in part of town.

As a result very few people attended the hearing and I'm not sure what kind of message that sent to the commission. But a few of us did offer our concerns and ideas. My contribution in support of the Tankerhoosen Valley was a vision of how we might develop the concept of the whole Valley as a unit for the benefit of Vernon - if we preserve the watershed and don't overdevelop the commercial properties at Exits 66 and 67.

You can read the full testimony and ideas for Vernon on the Tankerhoosen Blog.

» Read the Tankerhoosen Blog.

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Places: Wings Butterfly Garden

One of the unique gardens in the Tankerhoosen Valley is the Wings Butterfly Garden on Lake Street. This garden is for families who have suffered the deaths of their babies or unborn children. It's also our newest garden having opened in October 2010. Located at 60 Lake Street the garden is a space where grieving families can seek a little solace from their pain and cherish their children’s memories. It is laid out in the shape of a butterfly and features numerous winged decorations.

Residents CHARLES and NATALIE PLATT donated the strip of land to the town in 2009 to be used as a park after cultivating rhododendron and conifer bushes on the property for more than 40 years. In the spring of 2010, Manchester Memorial Hospital bereavement nurse NANCY KRUPIENSKI began work on building the garden. With many azaleas and rhododendrons it is particularly lovely in May.

At its peak in May, you can revisit the garden in all its glory on our web page. Other area gardens will be added to this section.

» Go to Wings Butterfly Garden.

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History: Cemeteries

Five of Vernon's seven cemeteries are located in the Tankerhoosen Valley. Listed by age they are the Old Burial Ground Of North Bolton, Old Dobsonville Cemetery, Elmwood Cemetery, Mount Hope Cemetery and the Valley Falls Cemetery.

People have lived and died in this area for almost three hundred years. In these burial grounds generations of farmers and mill workers have become part of the soil. You will find monuments and markers for some of the area's most interesting people. All but the Old Burial Ground on Bamforth Road and the Dobsonville cemeteries are still active.

Each has its own unique character and personality. Bamforth Road and Dobsonville are popular places to study gravestone carvings. Mt. Hope includes the second oldest Civil War memorial in the country and Valley Falls has a beautiful memorial garden. Our web page includes a bit of history of each as well as photos.

» Go to Cemeteries.

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Tank Tales: The Vernon Highway Bypass

Did you know that the Connecticut Department Of Transportation (DOT) considered putting a beltway, similar to I-291, through the middle of Vernon and the Tankerhoosen Valley?

In the early 1960's the DOT explored building beltways that would take traffic around Hartford. They looked at an inner beltway and an outer beltway. One version of the outer beltway included a section that started at Bolton Notch, ran along Railroad Brook through Valley Falls Park, then cut through the heart of Vernon to the five corners intersection in Ellington, and on to a new bridge above Windsor.

Fortunately, this never got off the drawing board and I can imagine the concern in town. Does anybody remember this concept?

» Read about the Vernon Highway Bypass.

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Our Facebook Page

Between newsletters stay current with news and updates on our Facebook Page. Recent postings include notice of upcoming events and hikes, photos from area events, and news items relating to the area. Visit the Page to receive updates.

» Go The Tankerhoosen Facebook Page

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