By MICHELE GRAHAM
Photography by CHICHI UBIÑA
“Ask any gardener, and they will tell you, your garden is never finished. It’s always in progress,” says Karen. She has called the former Binney Estate – on a prime waterfront acre – home for the past 45 years. The same heritage that filled school backpacks with the famous box of 64 crayons, built the English-influenced fieldstone and slate manor aptly named Rocklyn. The property sits high above the shore on a giant glacial rock formation. As Karen notes, “This house was built in 1896 and should be called The Fortress. It can survive the forces of any storm.” And while the house has weathered storms, even hurricanes without a hitch, the gardens have required continual tender care.
Karen’s key to the lush landscape is plantings that thrive in a seaside environment. This includes lots of roses, hydrangeas, peonies, hostas, and grasses offset by Japanese pines, birch trees, and other large trees. She surrounds her pool with colorful pots heavily laden with hydrangea blooms.
Karen’s involvement with The Greenwich Garden Education Center (GEC) began 15 years ago. Always an impactful leader with non-profits, she enjoyed the Center’s programs and the friends she made there. She’s proud of Center’s work, especially its instructional programs and outreach to schools and nursing homes. The crowning achievements are the annual major events: The Garden Tour, which takes more than 500 visitors to private gardens; the hugely popular Gardeners’ Market, where plantings grown at the Center are sold; and the juried Dahlia Show. This year’s Dahlia Show, featuring more than 1,000 exquisite blooms will be held on October 7 and 8 and is free to the public, who can buy the flowers at the show’s conclusion.
Karen reflects on the work of the GEC. “It’s exciting to see people passionate about their gardens,” she says, “and the pride that they take in sharing them.” For Karen, that appreciation begins just outside her front door.