By Janice Llanes Fabry

A chill in the air means it’s time to start bringing plants indoors before nighttime temperatures start dipping below 40 degrees. The transfer takes more than simply shuffling pots around and is not always clear-cut. We asked the experts in town to plant their seeds of knowledge before the frost sets in, so our green houseguests can fill our homes with color, texture, and oxygen.

Greene Willow owner Michael Falkowski, who grew up with a green thumb on a farm in Long Island long before he opened his shop 14 years ago, suggests transferring garden plants to potting soil to avoid bringing in pesky insects. He also advises pruning, which helps dormant plants in the winter produce new, healthy growth in the spring. Hibiscus, geraniums, and begonias, for instance, will do well with deadheading, or pinching off old blooms.

It is with dahlias, above all, that Falkowski’s magic touch blossoms. These plants with beautiful abundant florets and such varietal names as “Midnight Dancer,” “All That Jazz,” and “Foxy Lady,” grow from tubers and are native to Mexico, so they need to steer clear of the cold at all costs.

“Upon the first frost, typically late October, their foliage freezes and turns black,” he explained. “Let them sit in the ground for two weeks, so the tubers harden or they will rot over the winter. Then dig up the tubers, which look like fingerling potatoes, wash the dirt off and allow them to dry for a day or two.”

His storage technique includes soaking the tubers in vermiculite, keeping them in a plastic bag with holes poked through it, then layering them in a box between newspapers. They spend the winter in his garage, where the temperature does not drop below 40 degrees. Come spring, he gingerly divides them and plants them in the ground. “Their most prolific season is the end of August, but they can start blooming in July,” he said.

Claudia Gasparini, Falkowski’s right-hand helper for over a decade, confirmed that, “Michael’s dahlias are incredible. Their colors, size, and longevity are far superior to any wholesaler’s.”

Rocco Lagana opened <<Rockridge Deli and Florist>> as a plant, fruit, and vegetable stand with his wife Gemma 44 years ago. Today, their daughter Brigit and son Lorenzo work closely with them. Although the latter has taken over the nursery, like us, he still asks his father for advice.

The seasoned Lagana patriarch advised, “Make sure garden plants do not have insects before ever bringing them in. They can spread very easily.” And the last thing one needs is a full-on invasion of aphids, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites that make your home their home.

Another important factor is the pot. It should be large enough to accommodate the size of the roots and should have holes to ensure adequate drainage. Roots cannot tolerate sitting in stagnate water. Cultivating healthier roots will give plants a much higher survival rate over the winter. Also, use good quality potting soil instead of garden soil, which is too dense for pots. Every couple of weeks, add an all-purpose fertilizer, as in Miracle-Gro plant food.

Lagana added, “Most garden plants love sunlight. Geraniums, hibiscus, and ficus plants will thrive in rooms with a lot of sun, but houseplants often prefer shade.” Houseplants that thrive on the patio during the summer — peace lilies, succulents, schefflera, pothos, and corn plants — fare better in rooms with indirect sunlight.

If yards and porches start feeling a little bare once the plants have been brought in, select a couple of Rockridge’s hardy chrysanthemums and ornamental cabbage before they are replaced with a crop of pumpkins. As Brigit noted, “Unlike other plants, they like the cold and can last outside till Halloween.”


#2447 Green Willow owner Michael Falkowski’s homegrown dahlias

# 2410 Chrysanthemums and cabbage plants galore at Rockridge

#2420 A colorful mix at Rockridge

Rye is a many-splendored town, but when artists get out their brushes and canvases, it’s most often to capture the shifting light over Long Island Sound, the Tide Mill, or Blind Brook. While waterfront scenes were the glittering attractions at The Rye Arts Center’s 14th Painters on Location: Plein-Air Paint-Out & Auction, downtown landscapes merited plenty of attention and high bids at the live auction September 16.

The Gallery filled up early with art lovers interested in getting a close look at the works in the silent auction. One by one they moved on to the freshly painted ones in the Performing Arts Room that were later sold in the live auction.

The occasion gives the community the chance to meet artists from Maine to Rhode Island to Pennsylvania to upstate New York and right around the corner.

….. .  . CLASSES of the 1960s

…        Featuring “The Casuals”

.. Saturday October 7, 7-10 p.m.

               Rye Rec Canteen 

        For more information contact

   Melinda Barnes DeLucia, 203-554-3350

By Gretchen Althoff Snyder

Over 400 people gathered at Rye Town Park on September 17th to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Soul Ryeders. The weather was picture-perfect as supporters of the organization enjoyed live music by Michael Guarnieri and Pao Pao and delicious fare from longtime Rye favorite, Jerry’s Post Road Market.

The celebration included the unveiling of a newly constructed labyrinth with bricks engraved in honor of loved ones who lost the fight against cancer, as well as tributes to survivors and many others who have helped in the fight along the way. The idea for the labyrinth was to unite the community by creating a quiet place for reflection and a space for family and friends to gather. Soul Ryeders founder Sandy Samberg said, “The labyrinth is filled with messages of love, hope, strength, and inspiration,” and that additional bricks will be added over time to make it an integral part of the community for years to come.

The program began with Rye Middle School seventh grader Maelin Doran, who sang a beautiful, goosebump-inducing rendition of “Fight Song.” Afterward, hugs and tissues were in high demand as several brave and inspiring women shared harrowing stories of their battles against cancer. Jenn Doto and Sondra Fizzinoglia, both first-grade teachers, became “breasties” after they were diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time. Connected by and given unwavering support from Soul Ryeders, these women shared their greatest fears and found solace through “texts, tea, tears, and time”.

JoAnn Linden, whose sister lives in Rye, was connected with Soul Ryeders after her life-changing cancer diagnosis. At first hesitant since she lived an hour away, Linden took a leap of faith and attended Mondays with Soul Ryeders at a local beauty salon. She immediately felt the warmth, generosity, and support of the organization, and was later inspired to start a similar cancer support program at a salon near her home on Long Island.

April Deen’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As a mother of 2½-year-old twins, her family was searching for support through any means possible. Deen’s brother, a devoted yogi, found her a Yoga for Cancer class sponsored by Soul Ryeders. Her instructor then connected Deen with Samberg, who showed up at her door with a meal and care packages for her twins. Whether it was massages, reflexology, or lending her a wig, “their generosity and support was endless,” she said.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after Callie Zola, a high school senior, shared her tragic story of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma right in the middle of her junior year. “Being a teenager is hard enough; being a teenager with cancer was a whole different ballgame,” she said, fighting back tears. Because of her age, Zola struggled to find anyone to talk to who could really understand the range of emotions she was going through. She was connected with Soul Ryeders, and upon meeting with coordinator Janet Muller, said “I felt so understood — it was one of the first times I truly felt comfortable and okay this past winter.” After a grueling six months of chemotherapy, she is now cancer free. A testament to her courage, before Zola’s treatment was even finished, she attended the junior prom — her hair styled courtesy of Soul Ryeders.

The common thread of the evening was the kind, generous and unwavering support Soul Ryeders has given so many people affected by cancer over the last ten years. The community is forever grateful for this important work and looks forward to the next ten years.

Susan Marynowski, Monica Brenner, Sandy Samberg, Lesley Findlay, Heidi Kitlas, and Christine Lombardo

A labyrinth filled with love


Downtown, Where All the Givers and Shakers Go

Last Saturday afternoon, couples, friends, and coworkers, strolled downtown for “A Taste of Rye”, the annual event organized by Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s in support of My Sister’s Place, which for over 40 years has worked to end domestic violence.

Hundreds sipped and sampled the fare at a number of Purchase Street restaurants, as well as at Wine at Five, where Blue Tulip chocolates paired nicely with reds. And many lingered to enjoy one of the last summer Saturdays.

“This is a good, old-fashioned small-town event,” said Julia B. Fee manager Pati Holmes, “where people come to relax in our charming, restaurant-rich downtown. And My Sister’s Place is the well-deserved beneficiary of the generous and spirited ‘tasters’ in Rye.”

Photos by Anja Porto

One of the best days of every campaign season is the day the League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester holds its season opener wine and cheese party.

Last weekend, Barbara and Fred Cummings opened their glorious backyard to dozens of citizens happy to catch up on all things apolitical and watch the sun go down on Long Island Sound.

Meanwhile, the event raises funds for LWV Education programs, including Students in Albany and Tools for Change.

— Robin Jovanovich

Robin Henschel and Barbara deFrondeville

Meg Cameron and Steve Meyers

Former Mayor Tedd Dunn with former Councilman Arthur Stampleman

Sara Goddard, Ben Stacks, Kim O’Connor, and Josh Cohn

Bernie Althoff sharing a moment with Gio Dunn.

Host Barbara Cummings, center, with her new neighbor, at left, and Barbara Brunner

Liz Rotfeld and Rick Buzin, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester

Host Fred Cummings with Bill Gates