The gardens have evolved over 40 years, beginning in 1971 when the Robinsons first acquired their 1750’s clapboard farmhouse, in the hills of Litchfield County in northwestern Connecticut. As they began to restore the derelict farmhouse, Barbara began to “tidy up” the surrounding landscape. With her demanding legal practice as a partner in the large international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, Barbara’s early plan for a “low maintenance” area around the house ultimately succumbed to her growing passion for plants. Originally a banker, Charlie turned to painting and established Brush Hill Studios. Theirs is very much a gardening partnership: Charlie sculpts the land, designs and builds all the garden structures and opens new “canvases” for Barbara to paint her plants upon.
During a once in a lifetime sabbatical, Barbara was fortunate enough to go to England in 1991 to work for the late, great Rosemary Verey in her famous gardens at Barnsley House. Her biography of Rosemary Verey was published by David R. Godine in 2012.
She also spent some of her sabbatical working for Penelope Hobhouse at Tintinhull, a National Trust Garden in Somerset. Her time in England was a transforming experience and added greatly to Barbara’s gardening skills.
She has lectured and spoken to many horticultural groups about her garden and its history and welcomes many visitors each year. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Wave Hill, the superb public garden in Riverdale, New York, Stonecrop, the brilliant garden established by Frank and Anne Cabot in Cold Spring, New York, and is director emeritus and a past Vice President of The Garden Conservancy.