July 2021 Happenings

Message from President Betty Goldstein

“When one door closes, another door opens”

Dear Friends,

A year ago, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I wrote my first President’s message. In that message, I stated that my personal motto is, “When one door closes, another door opens.” This saying is something in which I truly believe and have lived by throughout my life.

Bringing this philosophy to the Gardens during this past year of Covid, we chose to look internally to see what could be accomplished and with the strong support of our membership and their tremendous amount of creativity and hard work, much was accomplished.

Following Virginia Robinson’s legacy of serving children of the community, the Friends had a Children’s Science Program, bringing over 2,000 schoolchildren from the 2nd to the 4th grades to the Gardens for docent-led children’s science tours each year. These tours covered topics such as photosynthesis, pollination, composting, the difference between fruits and vegetables, and many more science-based topics.

Unable to continue to bring children to the Gardens, the Friends created a semi-virtual tour and box unit, taking the Science Program to the children at home and when school began, to the schools. Two units have been completed, Healthy Living & Nutrition and Plants & Our World. Each unit consists of a video and box for each child, containing a notebook filled with information, games, and all the tools needed to complete the assignments along with a teacher’s guide. Created last fall, it has already served over 1,300 schoolchildren. As schools continue to open, we will be able to have both programs serving even more children.

As we all learned to “Zoom,” we were able to expand our audience for educational classes, starting with an Ikebana demonstration, a gingerbread making class, a wreath making class, a wonderful presentation on interior design, and a book review.

The history of the Robinson family is intertwined with the history of the growth of the city of Los Angeles and the history of Beverly Hills. With the Gardens closed to events and tours, the opportunity to start the preservation of the family memorabilia was made possible. With strong membership support and volunteer hours, hundreds of documents have been sorted and preserved including the preservation of rare films. This process continues.

We continue to create; this summer, we will be having a succulent wreath-making class and the start of a new book club, the “Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group.” Also, a 3rd unit for our Virtual Children’s Science program will be finished for the start of school in the fall.

We are grateful to our members and supporters who renewed and donated to the Gardens and who are strongly committed to this very special place.

I look back at this last year, this “Covid year,” and it can be seen that truly “another door opened.” The Gardens moved forward, all because of the resolve and dedication of the Friends, docent volunteers, and the County staff of the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

Thank you all and may you enjoy your summer.


Betty Rodriguez Goldstein
President of the Friends of Robinson Gardens

Our Garden Tour Star Suzanne Rheinstein

Each month we are highlighting “Our Garden Tour Stars” -- landscape architects, florists, and interior designers who have participated in our annual Garden Tour and Showcase Estate at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. We want to let you know about these very talented designers, their inspirations, and their creations.

This month, we are honored to be featuring internationally renowned interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein. Her work has been published in numerous lifestyle magazines, such as Architectural Digest and Elle Décor, where she has been included on the AD100 and A-List, respectively. Suzanne was included in Elle Décor’s debut of its Titans honor roll, which celebrates two dozen exceptionally influential talents. She has written two best-selling books, At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past and Rooms for Living. A longtime board member of the Garden Conservancy, Suzanne presented a lecture for the Friends on the Conservancy. She also generously hosted the Fellows for a tour of her beautiful Hancock Park home and garden. Suzanne has designed several rooms at VRG for Garden Tour where she also held a book signing.

We asked her these five questions:

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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.

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Spotlight on Ann Petersen

Each month we spotlight a volunteer, staff member, docent, donor, or sponsor of the Virginia Robinson Gardens (VRG) -- those that have made an impact on the organization. We want to let you know about these wonderful people and corporations that give so much to the Virginia Robinson Gardens and to the community, and what they do that is so impactful.

This month, we spotlight Lisa Gimmy, a wonderful and dedicated Friends of Robinson Gardens Member. A landscape architect, Lisa did a terrific presentation on her career for VRG members and docents. She has also been a Garden Tour hostess.

We asked her these three questions:

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In Case You Missed It: Thoughts from Friends

Natasha Gregson Wagner

What Brings Me Joy

“Hey Clover, how would you like to pick raspberries today?” Clover is eating a bowl of cereal, and I am drinking coffee. “Where would we pick them, mama?” “There is a raspberry patch down the road. Thought it could be a new experience for us.” “Sure, mama,” Clover answers.

We have been riding out the pandemic at our log cabin in northern Michigan since March.

The mid-July sun was high, the blue sky bright and friendly. The buzz, buzz of bees was our soundtrack as we plucked the tender fruit from its bushes. Willy, our faithful, furry companion, looping in and out of the rows of raspberries, was enjoying the fruit himself.

“I never realized that the best raspberries hide in the back of the bush, mama,” Clover said.

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To see what the Friends of Robinson Gardens have been up to, please visit our Archive.