January 2022 Happenings

Message from President Betty Goldstein

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

We are entering into the month of January, derived from the Latin noun Januarius or Janus. “Janus is often depicted with two, bearded heads that face in opposite directions, looking to both the future and the past.” (from Dictionary.com). Janus is also known as the god of doorways and beginnings.

Let us choose to look forward to new beginnings. Here at the Gardens, providing access to the public is one of the gifts we can offer our community, especially locally, as we all think twice about traveling to other countries or even other states. One of our visitors once said to me as I toured them through the Italian Terrace Garden, “We don’t have to go to Italy to see beautifully manicured gardens; we can just come here.” In the Australian King Palm Forest, a Majestic Banyan Tree and the sound of the swaying of palms all take you to another place. A hundred-year-old tree, the varying hues of the color green, the scent of the earth when it is wet, the singing of the birds, and the buzzing of the bees -- this is what the gardens bring to us.

The interesting thing about a garden is that the beautiful trees, the flowers, the blossoms, and the wildlife don’t know of the existence of a pandemic. This is what makes a garden like ours so important. It is a place of tranquility and a place of calmness even in a world that is deep in a pandemic. It is an important setting where one can reset and know that all this will pass, and the green grass, the palms, and the wildlife continue on with a consistency that helps us balance our lives.

If we are to look back to the past, as the one Janus bearded head does, let us look at the unique relics throughout the garden property. I have been to the gardens many times, as a children’s and adult docent and as a general volunteer, yet every time I visit, I see something I hadn’t noticed before. This time, it was the old black weathervane. It is a fascinating piece with its intricate design, but badly needing the expertise of a knowledgeable restorer. It is our obligation to make sure that all these precious items that carry the history of the past are restored. It is treasured pieces like the weathervane and the gardens themselves that keep us rooted to our local history, the history of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

Let us start the new year knowing we have a place where one can mentally be nourished, a place where you can breathe deeply the fresh clean air the gardens provide, experience a sea of tranquility, an oasis of peace.

We here at the gardens are so happy to help provide such a place for all of us to enjoy.

May the New Year bring good health and contentment.


Betty Rodriguez Goldstein
President of the Friends of Robinson Gardens

Our Garden Tour Star Andrey Yun:
Life Before, During, and After VRG

Andrey Yun worked for the Virginia Robinson Gardens from 2017-2020. He is an immensely talented florist, designer, and horticulturalist that we were so lucky to have at the Gardens. An excellent pruner and plantsman, Andrey thoughtfully detailed the garden by pruning, dividing, and transplanting specimen plants. He also created VRG’s “succulent nurse” in 2020 to honor our medical heroes. The piece Audrey designed was a living sculpture constructed of metal netting planted with succulents in the form of a nurse. It was displayed in the Healing Gardens of Cedars-Sinai for all staff to enjoy on their breaks, as well as delighting the patients and visitors. Floral Tribute to Cedars from the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Read about his enthralling story:

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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.

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Wreath Making Workshop at VRG Enraptures Participants

“The wreath is to a door as eyebrows are to one’s face” ~ Jelena Trifunovic of Viola Floral

On December 7, 2021, twelve Friends gathered in the ever-beautiful Virginia Robinson Gardens Pool Pavilion to craft holiday wreaths under the spell and guidance of the effervescent Friend Jelena Trifunovic of Viola Floral, assisted by fellow Friend Katie Marsano, who is also a Japanese Sogetsu Ikebana instructor.

Jelena inspired us to be “in the flow” of creating our wreaths as we might a holiday salad, choosing our greens from her buffet table of evergreen, magnolia, and eucalyptus sprays. She demonstrated how to wire them in bunches, swirling clockwise around the heavy wire wreath form as we worked, encouraging us to embrace the process, and be in the zone as we worked. I felt bliss seeping in, as time stood still.

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Gingerbread At-Home Decorating House Event
Brings Cheer to Participants

We all know December is one of the most festive months. Brilliant baubles bedeck storefronts, the radio (or streaming services) serve up jolly tunes, the colder air (at least by LA standards) is made warmer by the twinkling sound of jingle bells, and people are merrier and brighter! As this palpable cheer fills the world, one of my favorite ways to partake is to decorate a gingerbread house! That is why I am so happy that, for the second year in a row, so many people purchased gingerbread houses and candy kits in support of the Friends of Robinson Gardens.

This year, participants were once again treated to a spectacular, pre-assembled gingerbread house made by local bakery Tutto Bene, delivered with royal icing, figurines of trees, sleighs, Santa, snowmen, and more for their gingerbread house gardens, and deluxe candy kits. I’d like to think that these kits are a gift for everyone – they help raise necessary funds for the Virginia Robinson Gardens while bringing sweetness into the homes of those who take part!

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Spotlight On Lara Roman

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 Lara Roman, a docent and dedicated Friends of Robinson Gardens member. A corporate lawyer, Lara is a native of Germany. As her father was a diplomat and an ambassador, she lived in various countries and speaks fluent French, Spanish, German, and English.

We asked her these three questions:

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