May 2022 Happenings

Message from President Betty Goldstein

A friend stands in the shade of the gazebo while watching Virginia and the others enjoy the bathing pond.

Dear Friends,

Last month I spoke about the regeneration of a seed as a symbol of hope and rebirth for the future, a verification that life continues. Restoration is an additional way to see rebirth.  At the Gardens, a big part of maintaining the Robinson estate is the constant need to restore the historical components of this amazing property. Restoration speaks to the continuum of our local history, tells us about the roots and beginnings and growth of this wonderful city in which we live. The Robinsons were a great part of the history and culture of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Knowing our local history gives us a sense of belonging; whether we were born here or chose this beautiful place to live, this history belongs to us all.

The restoration that was done in April was the task of repairing the fish pond/lily pond.  Located on the mound of the Great Lawn, it is an integral part of the landscape with its placement between the house and the Pool Pavilion. The fish pond, named after the three fish at the base of the fountain, was originally the bathing pool of the estate; located below the bathing pool were two rectangular lily ponds. When the Pool Pavilion was built in 1925, the two lily ponds were removed, and the bathing pool was partially filled-in. It was converted to a lily pond with a fountain placed in its midst with three fish at the base of the pedestal and a sculpture of a child holding the water bowl. Now water lilies and mosquito fish reside in the pond.

With renewal sometimes comes change. Tim Lindsay, after 24 years as the Superintendent of the Virginia Robinson Estate, is retiring from his position. Under Mr. Lindsay’s tutelage, the gardens have flourished and have been restored to Mrs. Robinson’s vision, (she was an amateur botanist) with many of the original trees and plants maintained.

The new Superintendent of the gardens is Diane Sipos. Ms. Sipos brings many talents to the gardens and is eager to continue the very important work of keeping this Beverly Hills/Los Angeles historical monument thriving. Please see the article on Ms. Sipos in this newsletter.

Our book club, which started last year, has grown to be very successful. You may want to start reading the new book club selection, Walt Disney: An American Original. All the book selections are related to Virginia and Harry Robinson and the estate. The Disneys were very good friends of the Robinsons.  After the death of Walt Disney, Lillian Disney was remarried in the Golden Salon of the Robinson estate. Click here to register.

May is normally the month we have our annual Garden Tour. As with many other events, the Garden Tour did not take place during the Covid pandemic. We have revived our Garden Tour, and it will occur on October 22, 2022. Invitations will be sent in September.

Showing our efforts of the past, the month of May brings us joy with the best blooms of the year.

May your garden bloom.


Betty Rodriguez Goldstein
President of the Friends of Robinson Gardens

Virginia Robinson Gardens Welcomes Our New Superintendent:
Diane Sipos!

Diane Sipos is thrilled to join the Virginia Robinson Gardens as its new Superintendent.  She brings extensive experience overseeing major organizational and programmatic initiatives in the non-profit sector, higher education, and arts institutions.  Previously, she served as Director for the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art - Southern California Chapter, an educational arts institute.  She provided strategic leadership to the organization since its early inception, forging partnerships with institutions across both public and private sectors in advancing the organization’s mission.  She created a program that serves a Title I school in LAUSD, implemented scholarship programs, created educational programs for design professionals and the general public, and organized travel tours of notable architecture and landscapes.  Under her helm, the organization saw its membership grow and expanded its audience nationally and internationally with its expanded online programming and digital library.  She has a Master’s in Public Administration from USC.

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Fellows Trip to the “Borderlands” Art Exhibition at
the Huntington Library

On a beautiful day in the first week of spring, the Fellows of Robinson Gardens traveled to the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino for an enriching cultural experience. With the backdrop of the magnificent gardens at the Huntington, the group was treated to an erudite lecture and tour of Borderlands, a new permanent collections installation at the Huntington Art Museum, curated by Dennis Carr.


Carr began the tour in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, stopping in the loggia to discuss Enrique Martinez Celaya’s magnificent There-Bound. Painted on the massive glass façade of the Scott Gallery’s north entrance, it depicts migratory birds winging across the building’s front windows. Visitors can sit on seats that are bird sculptures and gaze up in awe at the bird paintings on glass that blend in with the outside landscape.

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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.

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The Watercolor Botanical Illustration Program at the
Virginia Robinson Gardens

It was fate that Tim Lindsay, while visiting England, met and befriended the brother of renowned British botanical artist Anne-Marie Evans. Later as Superintendent of the Virginia Robinson Gardens, he invited Anne-Marie to come to the Gardens to teach botanical watercolor classes and the rest is history….Tim had the support of Barbara Jaynes and Tania Norris to gather interested pupils, promote the classes and to host Anne-Marie. That was twenty-two years ago.

Due to the pandemic, we could not invite Anne-Marie back for two years, and thus it was extra special for us all to welcome her back this spring to teach at Robinson Gardens.

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Jeanne’s Magical Rose Sale

What a wonderful tradition Jeanne Anderson started with our annual Rose Sale. The sun was shining on April 19, 2022, and everyone was taken by the fragrance and beauty of the roses so carefully selected by Superintendent Tim Lindsay and Jeanne Anderson at the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

The tables in the Pool Pavilion were filled to the brim with a variety of wonderful treasures to buy. Exotic plants, jewelry, ceramic plates, and vases were on display and tempted all who came to the event. Among the most popular items for sale in the Pavilion was SHOO for Good, a clever, yet beautiful, practical shawl that protects you from mosquitoes while keeping you warm and cozy. The shawls are made by artisans in Ethiopia using locally sourced cotton. Also popular were sets of cards of lovely watercolors by Martin Bruinsma. They depicted scenes of different vistas of the gardens at the Robinson estate.

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New Members Orientation & Tea

On April 4th, 2022, the Friends of Robinson Gardens hosted a New Members Tea, a first-time addition to our annual New Members Orientation at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. The event was chaired by Lori Gordon, Candy Beaver, and myself (Natalie Gordon). New members and FRG board members first gathered in the patio outside the kitchen to mix and mingle.

Guests were led to the Loggia for an elegant tea, where they were greeted at their seats with delicious berries and whipped cream. As board members, including President Betty Goldstein, Clare Wagner (Chair of Education Lectures), Patti Reinstein (Co-Chair of the Children’s Program), and Elaine Stein (Co-Chair of Garden Tour and Book Club), presented on their exciting committees, attendees snacked on sandwiches with egg salad, chicken salad, and cream cheese with cucumber as well as scones (with jam and lemon curd), and myriad desserts!

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