Gardner's Talents and Hard Work Earn Him YMCA Character Award

By: Lindsay Shively
By: Lindsay Shively

With spring approaching, its just about time to get back outside and enjoy the natural beauty of northeast Kansas. One of this year's YMCA Character Values award winners has made Shawnee county's natural beauty his priority.

Jerold Binkley loves gardens especially this one, "Peaceful, its just serene." He brought 35 years of gardening experience to the table, hoping to transform what *was a rose garden to a sprawling green paradise. The new Ted Ensley gardens at Lake Shawnee is for all to enjoy and also to help fulfill Binkley's fantasy of having a big garden himself.

"I feel very fortunate to be a part of this thing and that the county has let us do it because i feel its something that should be here 50 to 100 years from now."

"Jerold is always the one, always out here first, last to leave," adds Shawnee County Parks and Recreation director John Knight. He became friends with Binkley and nominated him for a YMCA Character Award because Binkley spends so much time to keep Shawnee County looking beautiful.

"He puts more into it than just labor and money. He puts his heart and soul into it as well," adds Knight.

"Well I don't know how to do anything else," the forever humble Binkley shrugs. He doesn't just garden here, e's spent more than twenty years hosting tulip time at his home. It's grown from 10,000 bulbs to a sea of more than 100,000.

"Busloads have come from Wichita, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Kansas City," Binkley says.

And the profits? He donates them for Topeka Beautification. After years of work Jerold and the countless volunteers that helped build this place rejoice in how the community enjoys it, from a simple picnic lunch, a quick jog, even a walk down the aisle.

"I feel great peace if I go into a garden and just look at it." Binkley says. "I've spent most of my life driving by everything and now i want to stop and see it."

So what does Jerold want from you? He wants you to help maintaining that beautiful garden! If you'd like to lend a hand, just contact Shawnee County Parks and Recreation at 785-267-1156.


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