Friends of Virginia Robinson Gardens Caps Lecture Series with Illuminating Talk on LA

Just as spring was preparing to blossom throughout the region and the seasonal changes were once again repainting Virginia Robinson Gardens’ glorious landscape, the Friends and guests gathered to celebrate the end of their most recent educational lecture series, co-chaired by Clare Wagner, Suz Landay, and Ann Petersen on April 14, 2022. Featuring Tim Street-Porter and Annie Kelly discussing their new book, Los Angeles Today - City of Dreams: Architecture and Design, the 45-minute talk inside the Pool Pavilion highlighted the dynamic changes that continue to engulf Los Angeles. “Tim was really focused on getting the icons of Los Angeles,” Annie told the Friends

A Spectacular Luncheon Honoring the Founder of the Friends Joan Selwyn and Our 40-Year Anniversary

On March 16, 2022, the Friends of Robinson Gardens were so happy to honor Joan Selwyn, the founder of the Friends and to celebrate our 40-year anniversary at a luncheon at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. The celebration was a beautiful one, mirroring the multi-talented Joan who is beautiful inside and out and an enchanting inspiration for us all. A gifted writer and a talented artist, Joan imbues whatever she does with kindness, charm, style, and tremendous grace. On the Tennis Observation Deck by the Display Rose Garden, President Betty Goldstein welcomed and thanked the guests for coming, many past Presidents among them, as well as Joan’s children, Marc Selwyn and Laura Wyatt. Betty also welcomed our new incoming Superintendent Diane Sipos. Betty said, “It has been my good fortune to work with Joan these last few years…She is a brilliant woman, a lovely lady to work with, and it’s really been my pleasure to get to know her better. We are so happy to have this luncheon for her today.”

Holiday Tea for Prospective Members and their Sponsors at VRG

It was a cold and wintery day on December 9, 2021, but inside the Pool Pavilion at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, all was merry and bright where the Friends welcomed eight lovely prospective members and their sponsors at a Holiday Tea. Thanks to Andrea Layne who had the inspired idea to host the tea, and with the help of President Betty Goldstein, the attendees enjoyed a delightful afternoon. Two twinkling Christmas trees (decorated by Betty, Katie Marsano, Kerstin Royce, and Patti Reinstein) created a sparkling, festive atmosphere. One tree was decorated with Mrs. Robinson’s vintage ornaments from the 1950s. The other travel-themed tree reflected the many worldwide travels that Harry and Virginia enjoyed together. Urns filled with pinecones, ferns, and red berries and festive centerpieces on the tables were artfully designed by VRG gardener Cynthia Mascarenas. Adding to the warm and inviting atmosphere of the event was an array of appetizing sandwiches, pumpkin cookies, the iconic tarte tatins (caramelized apple tarts) from Dolce Isola --The Ivy Bakery, and Christmas cookies

The 1893 World’s Fair and the Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group

September 18, 2021 was the third meeting of the “Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group” in the Pool Pavilion at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. The 12 attendees enjoyed scones, cinnamon rolls, rugula, figs, and cucumber tea canapés as they discussed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. We celebrated the innovations initiated at the Chicago Exposition, including incandescent lights, the Ferris wheel, Cracker Jacks, and Shredded Wheat. We explored the personalities involved in the complicated logistics to develop the venue, including such luminaries as Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Elias Disney. We recalled with horror the crimes committed by the psychopath H.H. Holmes. It’s no wonder Virginia and Harry Robinson and Leslie Brand (Virginia’s uncle) were forever changed after attending the fair

Fred Astaire and the Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group

On June 26, 2021, in the Pool Pavilion at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, a lively discussion was enjoyed by participants at a meeting of the Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group concerning Fred and Adele Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The book featured was A Step in Time, Astaire’s autobiography. An arduous journey to stardom is traced through his work in vaudeville, then film and his entertainment of the troops in World War II! The movie The Gay Divorcee featured one of the Robinsons’ Duesenberg vehicles as well as the graceful dancing of Fred and Ginger. Anecdotes both poignant and humorous are recounted in the book as determination, hard work, and talent prove fruitful.

A Resplendent Tea and Book Signing with Sunday Taylor

On May 26th, 2021, Friends Board Members Leslie Kavanaugh and Patti Reinstein honored longtime Friends Member Sunday Taylor and her recently published book, The Anglophile’s Notebook, with a sold-out formal English Tea and Book Signing at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Elegantly dressed guests entering the Great Lawn were greeted by tables clad in pink tablecloths, each with a lovely pink and red rose arrangement centerpiece, designed by Kerstin Royce. Beyond, on the Terrace, were two tables laden with all good things required for a grand tea including delicious khachapuri, a wide assortment of tea sandwiches crafted by Alenoosh Davoodian, VRG Staff Assistant, and Patti, assorted scones donated by La Provence Patisserie & Café, clotted cream, and fresh fruit. The orange-raisin muffins with smoked turkey and chutney, also created by Patti, were especially exceptional. Pitchers of lemonade and tea and other fabulous edibles further enhanced the tables.

California Romance and Beauty: Interior Designer Krista Everage

“Beautiful presentation!” “So glorious!” “I adored looking at everything!” On April 28, 2021, these were some of the enthusiastic comments from the Zoom attendees watching the very informative and lively interview of interior designer Krista Everage by publicist Christine Anderson, President of Communication Arts + Design, Inc. at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Education co-chair Leslie Kavanaugh introduced Krista, a longtime Friends member, along with her friend and colleague Christine. Christine aptly remarked that the common thread in all of Krista’s work “from interiors to furniture to gardens to jewelry is luxurious romance suited to the indoor/outdoor California style.” Impressively, Krista’s first project published in Architectural Digest was designed around William Janss Jr.’s major art collection. Krista noted that in such instances, it is fun to design elements to complement the important artwork to create a subtle, poetic, and lyrical conversation between the furniture and the art. Also published in Architectural Digest was a rustic farmhouse whose interiors she designed for actor Dennis Quaid. Of her other notable clients, she said they embodied the Californian dream with their optimism and exuberance. Throughout the interview, the guests were able to savor images of the beautiful interiors she designed.

The Rose Sale Enchants VRG Members

The sun was shining brightly, but not even the sun could compete with the smiles on the faces of the members of the Friends of Robinson Gardens. Everyone wanted to be a part of Jeanne Anderson’s exquisitely planned Rose Sale. Greeting guests at the refreshment table were Ellen Lipson, Kerstin Royce, and Chava Gerber. The Friends enjoyed salted caramel cookies and individually wrapped brownies, while they sipped rose-flavored lemonade and Arnold Palmers through agave straws. It was Roses, Roses, Roses, in a rainbow of beautiful colors available in bouquets for purchase from Rose Lane Farms. On the tennis court, an enthusiastic group of “gardeners” were having a difficult time deciding which of the rose bushes they wanted to purchase. Also spotlighted was Virginia Robinson’s favorite rose -- the beautiful and fragrant pink Eiffel Tower.

Fountain Designer Jim Garland and Alison Terry Delight at VRG’s Zoom Lecture

On February 12, 2021, members of the Virginia Robinson Gardens participated on Zoom to hear a fabulous lecture by world-renowned fountain designer Jim Garland and a presentation by Alison Terry, liaison for the Southern California chapter of HALS (Historic American Landscape Survey). Alison explained that HALS is a federal program within the National Park Service whose primary goal is to provide a permanent, publicly accessible record of significant cultural landscapes. Alison said, “For the Virginia Robinson Gardens, it is significant because it represents a rare, intact example of an estate garden with classical Italianate elements.” As Beverly Hills’ first estate, it has a rich social history as well. The documentation will consist of measured drawings, large-format and drone photography, and a written history. Alison added that she is very excited to work with her team of 22 volunteers who have a great depth of knowledge of landscapes. They range from historians, arborists, fine artists and recent graduates to Disney Imagineering retirees.

Gingerbread House Decorating with Spago’s Executive Pastry Chef Della Gossett

Nothing says holiday cheer quite like the scent of a gingerbread house. For me at least, the warm spices mingled with sugary royal icing is the olfactory equivalent to watching It’s a Wonderful Life. To put it simply, a whiff of a gingerbread house reminds me of everything that is merry and bright about this time of year. So when the opportunity to brainstorm events for VRG came about, my mind immediately jumped to gingerbread house decorating. And thanks to the tireless work of those of us involved, the Friends of Robinson Gardens’ sold out, virtual Gingerbread House Decorating Event took place on the morning of Saturday, December 5th
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