The Glorious Camellia Beckons the Sun to Rise

During a brisk winter morning, while strolling through the Italian Terrace Garden, I found myself surrounded by camellia bushes heavy with bud and bloom. Flower colors ranged from blood red to the palest of pink with the occasional pure white bloom. Some flowers were mixed red and white reminding me of a peppermint stick. The flower form varied greatly as well. Some were reminiscent of peonies; others looked like roses; and still others like carnations. It’s no wonder many people mistakenly think the flower will produce fragrance. Most do not; however, one new to the scene is called ‘Sensation,’ and it does have a mild, yet distinct fragrance.

Once the camellia had arrived in California in the late 1800s, from its native countries of China and Japan, there was no looking back. In fact, by 1936, Mr. Boddy, a newspaperman by trade and a horticulturist by nature had assembled a 25-acre commercial camellia forest in La Canada-Flintridge, now known as Descanso Gardens… Read More

Message From President Betty Goldstein

Dearest Friends,

It was in July 2020 that I wrote my first President’s message. We were deeply in the midst of the Covid pandemic, and the Gardens were closed. I, in my naiveté, thought life in general and at the Gardens would return to normal quickly. Little did any of us know to what extent in time and patience the pandemic would take and how it would affect our lives.

This will be my last message as President of the Friends of Robinson Gardens. It has been a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions. It has been such a joy to be able to communicate every month with all of you during these 32 months.  Writing a message every month was a love and sometimes a bit of a hardship. I thank Linda Meadows, Editor of the Newsletter, who always waited so patiently until I got “my inspiration” to begin my message. As I look back at the messages, some better than others, it was a chronicle of what happened during the pandemic months here at the Gardens and how it affected us… Read More

Our Garden Tour Star Jean-Pascal Lemire

From time to time, we highlight “Our Garden Tour Stars” — landscape architects, florists, and interior designers who have participated at 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 featuring Jean-Pascal Lemire. At the 2022 Garden Tour, Jean-Pascal created beautiful floral displays in the Library and Library Terrace in the house at VRG. He also sold lovely bouquets in the vendor’s boutique on the tennis court. Following him on social media, Garden Tour co-chair Katie Marsano said that she is “a big admirer” of his work. Katie added, “I am captivated by his use of stems as an integral part of his arrangements; their perfectly fanned alignment gives way to a bounty of luscious blooms.  I find the contrast quite beautiful.”

We asked Jean-Pascal these four questions… Read More

How a Department Store Heiress Turned Her Historic Beverly Hills Estate Into a Must-see Public Garden and Home Tour

By Deborah Belgum

The famed Robinson Department store may be long gone, but the family’s legacy lives on in a six-acre Beverly Hills estate in California that has been open to the public for 45 years.

Known as the Virginia Robinson Gardens, the compound was built in 1911 by Harry and Virginia Robinson, who wed in 1903 and took a long honeymoon to Europe, India and Kashmir, where the newlyweds collected merchandise for the family department store and themselves.

Returning to Los Angeles, California, they were driving one day to the new Los Angeles Country Club when they got lost and ended up on a barren hilltop. What they saw was a view of the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and, on the other side, the plains below that would become the incorporated city of Beverly Hills in 1914… Read More