Message from the Presidents
What an honor it is to be the Presidents of the Friends of Robinson Gardens at a time when there are so many changes and improvements underway. There is activity at the estate every day. With our increased hours of operation, the Tuesday through Saturday tours have increased 54%. From our educational, gardening and botanical classes to the frequent photo shoots, there is never a dull moment.
Our Children’s Program, led by Greer Saunders, has been very successful due to the generosity of the Foundations which have supported us and the countless hours given by our dedicated volunteers. One special item which the students take with them is a book, Sam’s Super Salad. It was written by our founding Friends member, Joan Selwyn, along with our County Supervisor Tim Lindsay, and stars our very own mascot, Harry the cat. During the last year, Josh Johnston has joined our staff as groundskeeper and is an integral part of our children’s program.
Restoration projects are ongoing. We have a new roof on the main house, funded by the County. The County has also allocated funds for many other repairs throughout the property. If you haven’t been to the estate lately, the Friends’ restoration projects included painting wrought iron consoles and decorative painting on the fireplace mantel and walls in the Pool Pavilion and Loggia. Don’t forget to take the time to see our beautiful and meaningful Donor Tree, which is located on the back patio of the house. It was a treat to be able to show all of these projects, along with ongoing work at the Gardens, to many of our past Presidents who attended a luncheon in the Loggia in February.
Thanks to our dedicated members, the education, gardening and botanical classes, led by Marian Power and Tania Norris, along with special events at Robinson Gardens have been well attended and fascinating. Once more, our Fellows Programs, created by Jeanne Anderson, have been outstanding. Please see the accompanying stories in this newsletter.
We’ve been able to successfully expand our programs due to the hiring of our excellent new staff members in the Friends office. The new full time position, Director of Operations and Development Coordinator, was created. We welcomed Lynda Curland in late January. The skills she has brought to us from prior non-profit organizations are tremendous and a perfect fit for the Friends. In addition, we recently welcomed our new bookkeeper, Jeanne Kahn, who comes to us from a non-profit background as well.
The County has expanded their staff. Vicky Huynh joined the Gardens in September as Recreation Services Supervisor. She transferred to us from South Coast Botanical Gardens where she was Volunteer Coordinator. April Walton, who is Recreation Services Leader, joined our team in February. Along with the many hats they wear, Vicky and April are revising the docent training manual for both adult and children’s tours. Several grounds maintenance people have also been added to our County staff. As we have expanded our hours, we will be looking for new docents to lead tours!
Yes, we are growing! All of the activity and energy surrounding the Virginia Robinson Gardens estate are in keeping with the timeless elegance which Virginia inspired. It is our goal to preserve this symbol of Beverly Hills’ glamorous past.
We look forward to seeing you at our 27th Annual Garden Tour, “Masterpiece,” which will be on Saturday, May 16, 2015. This will be another fabulous event, with 3 amazing outside gardens, luncheon, boutique, and our treasured, beautifully decorated Robinson Estate.
Julia Klein and Adrienne Horwitch