October 28, 2005
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer
With a daffodil bulb in one hand and a squirming earthworm in
the other, 9-year-old Nicholas Torres couldn't have been happier
during a community planting event Thursday at the city's South
Green Park, located between Main Street and Wethersfield Avenue.
"I think I'm going to put two [bulbs] in so the flower will be big," said
Nicholas, who dug holes alongside his fellow fourth-graders from nearby
SS. Cyril & Methodius School. "I like to plant. In Puerto Rico,
I help my grandma in the garden."
Though the dirt the students knelt in was cold and damp, the planting
activity was more than just a few hours break from school. It was a chance
to make the park they pass by each day a little bit prettier.
"They have been so excited to come out and plant," said their
teacher, Shirley Pranaitis. "It's in their neighborhood and they
can walk up here in the spring and see all their hard work."
Alexi Cruz, 10, and several pals said they'd learned a lot Thursday;
like how to place bulbs in the ground so they could draw water from the
soil. But the best part of the morning, they said, was definitely squashing
"It's so gross, but it's cool. They make a big popping sound," said
Alexi. "You have to squish them so they don't eat the bulbs."
The project, which included the planting of several trees, juniper and
rose bushes and 400 daffodils, was a collaborative effort of the Garden
Club of Hartford, the Knox Parks Foundation, the South Green NRZ, the
Greater Hartford Green Team of Leadership Greater Hartford and Hartford
Hospital. The bulbs were donated by White Flower Farm in Litchfield and
the garden club.
"We wanted to make a difference in South Green," said Mally
Cox-Chapman, co-chair of civic projects for the Garden Club of Hartford,
which is celebrating its 90th year. "The hope was that even though
we are a small organization, we can be a tipping point for energy
put into the city."
By next spring, the garden club plans to plant nine more trees in the
park and hold an art exhibit featuring the work of local schoolchildren,
said Cox-Chapman. Club members are also writing a history of South Green
Park, one of the city's oldest, to be distributed to the churches, shelters,
businesses and civic organizations that surround the area. Involving people
from the neighborhood is important to the success of beautification projects,
"I wanted community participation," she said of Thursday's
project. "The best way to do that is to get the kids involved and
they will bring their parents back and spend some time in the
Amid the bustle of activity, Hartford resident Carlos Ribot watched and
"It looks beautiful, they are doing a good job," said Ribot,
who likes to sit on the park' benches with his girlfriend. "I use
this park. What they are doing, it's real nice."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at