My name is Char Barnes, and I have lived in Old Greenwich for 25 years. I am a Master Gardener, and gardening and landscaping are my obsession.
A lot of you who know about my obsession are familiar with my home garden and activities I do around town (and a many know that I can talk about this for hours on end…), and I wanted to use this site to share what I know, learn from others, and express my opinions. Everything here is my personal opinion, based on what I know from studying and experience.
I love to talk to people about the benefits of gardens and being outside, and I am glad that I have found so many outlets.
I am a frequent guest on WGCH, where I talk about gardens and landscaping and answer listener’s questions (my favorite part!) I will post my future appearances on this page and on Facebook.
I have taken many landscape design courses at the New York Botanical Garden, and I have always had a strong interest in graphic design - especially with computers.
I am a member of the Garden Club of Old Greenwich, and I take great joy in bringing beauty and nature to our town. I love our annual Plant Sale, where I get to talk about my favorite plants and share experiences.
I went to graduate school in mathematics where I specialized in geometry, so I have a very good understanding of space: representing multidimensional ideas on flat paper is crucial, and I have been using drawing and drafting software for decades. I am very comfortable looking at a two-dimensional drawing of symbols and understanding how it will work in space and time.
So when I realized that things were happening in Binney Park, I wanted to find out more, so I started reading…
I wanted to understand what the changes it entailed and help others understand it too. The only available documentation was this online copy of a 72 page document, and a copy of the Planting Plan (made available by Greenwich Free Press) where the site plans (the “Google’s-eye view”) were spread across nine pages with tiny print, and there was no cohesive picture of what types of changes were planned: some things were staying, some were being removed, and new stuff was being added.
I started to work to make the plan more accessible, and I am using this website to make it all easier to understand. Some of the proposed changes worry me, and there is little in the documentation to explain the ultimate effects of these changes. Most people are not familiar with planting plans, and you need a lot more information than circles on a page to understand what the space will look and feel like. I was surprised that the Plan did not have any elevations or perspective drawings with this. I felt that someone had to communicate what this plan would to accomplish in a way that made more sense than a 60+ page PDF…
I created these pages to explain the plan and make sense of the plants and space. The first thing I did was to combine the nine pages of planting plans into a single comprehensive plan (Binney Park Complete Planting Plan), and organize the areas and recommendations so to create a report to make it the plan’s proposals clearer (Binney Park by Area). Very soon, I realized that there were proposals that troubled me and were not expressed in a way that would make sense to most people. So I created pages to explain and clarify…
Binney Park Tree Removal explains why I have objected to removing 30 trees from the southern half of Binney Park and shows an alternative which will allow the plan to progress without the wholesale destruction of flowering trees that create the much needed shade.
Binney Park or Binney Fortress? discusses the very poorly communicated plan to use trees to build a visual barrier between Sound Beach Avenue and Binney Park.
Binney ‘Native’ Garden discusses the overwhelming maintenance problems of the ‘Native’ plant garden. This area is large and visible, and keeping it healthy and attractive is not possible with the limited resources available Executing this plan seems imminent because several large, flowering trees are being cut down to make room for it, as discussed in Binney Park Tree Removal. I am an enthusiastic supporter of native plants, but the area is too large and poorly thought out, and many of the shrubs are not native.