2016 Membership Luncheon at Virginia Robinson Gardens
Chaired by Joan Selwyn with the invaluable assistance of Patti Reinstein and Kerstin Royce, the Membership Luncheon at Virginia Robinson Gardens, with 60 members in attendance, was a marvelous event! It was a beautiful day, and strains of violin and cello music of the Pacific Coast Strings greeted the guests, many of whom were wearing lovely hats. The theme was “The Hollywood Bowl.” Virginia Robinson loved this outdoor musical venue, and Friends of Robinson Gardens President Marian Power explained that when the Bowl was suffering severe financial hardship during the Great Depression, Virginia along with a small group of benefactors helped save it. For the next 40 years, Mrs. Robinson hosted the annual Patron Kick Off Party for the Hollywood Bowl and had them perform on the Great Lawn of her estate. “With this in mind,” Marian explained, “Joan wanted to give us a sense of Virginia.” She added that Joan founded the Friends, and served as its first President. “A real treasure, the magnificent Joan guided our wonderful organization through all the decades, and we owe it all to her,” Marian said. She also praised our Superintendent Tim Lindsay, curator April Walton, and our fine hardworking staff.
In keeping with the outdoor theme, charming picnic tables dotted the lawn. On black and white checkered tablecloths, sewn by Patti, lay beautiful centerpieces of baskets, created by Kerstin and Patti, and filled with pink fuchsia roses, a bottle of wine, wine glasses and breadsticks. The matching fuchsia napkins were tied with ribbons adorned with musical notes. Even the chocolate covered Oreos in the gift bags (that also contained an elegant set of cards from Cartier) were decorated with a musical score!
A delicious lunch of salmon, salads, and dessert, was catered by the Kitchen for Exploring Foods, and all the wines and Prosecco were generously donated by Nino O’Brien and Jennifer Varsak of Accasbel Wines. Jeanne Anderson made gorgeous tussie mussies (small bouquets of flowers popular in Victorian times) for our new members: Marcia Hobbs, Nancy London, Vicki Victor, Jennifer Canale, Virginia Pullman, Carol Schultz, and Michelle Kazanjian Sommers who were given a tour of the gardens earlier in the day by Tim Lindsay. Joni Smith, Michelle Foster, Freya Ivener, Janice Olds, and Pamela Burton, new members as well, were not able to attend the luncheon.
The dining room at the house was also open for guests to view. April placed exquisite antique sets of floral china on a beautifully embroidered green and pink tablecloth. Gold-rimmed wine glasses added to the sumptuousness of the table while a beautiful silver bell in the shape of an elegant lady also graced the setting. The bell was a 40th birthday gift from Tiffany to Virginia in thanks for her patronage of their company!
Joan then gave a very eloquent speech, thanking three of our amazing members. First, she praised Diane Jenkins as “our Picasso,” turning our ideas into “stunning graphic designs for invitations and tribute books, setting the perfect tone, and contributing significantly to the success of our events.” Joan added that from member “Kathy Choi’s first steps with social media, Diane has taken us to the next level with the internet, made us cool, and connected to the world around us.”
Joan then thanked Greer Saunders who created the wonderful Children’s Program. She described how Greer, focused like a “laser beam,” sets her goals, organizes the programs, and raises the funds to transport children from elementary schools to the Gardens. For many of the children, it is the only opportunity that they have to learn about gardening and healthy eating. Thanks to Greer and with the help of the docents, the Children’s Program has become one of the main focuses at Robinson Gardens.
The third member to be awarded was Jeanne Anderson. There is a verse that Joan loves by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says: “The world laughs in flowers.” Relating this quote to Jeanne, Joan said, “Jeanne laughs, loves and creates in flowers. Her talent with flower arranging is legendary as her arrangements grace almost every major event that we plan.” Jeanne’s other major accomplishment is the creation of the Fellows program that is so popular that it has grown to over 50 members. With the help of Wendy Wintrob, Jeanne has organized amazing tours of historic homes and spectacular gardens. She has planned exclusive trips to San Francisco and New Orleans, among other places. This year, a trip to the mansions and gardens of Newport, Rhode Island, many of them not open to the public, is being organized.
Sharing her deep gratitude, Joan awarded all three with a jar of honey (referencing our hard working members to the industrious honey bee) along with a framed photo of the Gardens, expressing much appreciation from the Friends.
Thank you, Joan, Patti, and Kerstin, for creating such a special and memorable day for the new members and Friends to enjoy!
post by Linda Meadows
Friends of Robinson Gardens member