Message from President Betty Goldstein

My Garden Is My Happy Place

Dear Friends,

At a party, someone asked me what I liked best about the holidays. My answer was, “when they were over.” It was in jest of course, but the holidays can be very stressful for many of us. In my family as in other families, we celebrate many holidays at this time and have even invented a few new traditions to be able to include our out-of-state relatives.

One way I handle stress is to go out to my garden. I take my pruning shears and an old, large, lightweight pot that I use to collect waste and start to prune plants and clean up old leaves. I find it very cathartic to just concentrate on clipping and cleaning. Keeping a clean and well-pruned garden always gives me a sense of peace and order… Read More

A Walk in the Garden with Superintendent Diane Sipos

While spring is traditionally seen as the best time to visit the Gardens, there is something magical here in the dark of winter.  The leaves on the palm fronds glisten with early morning dew.  Walking through the Palm Forest on a grey, cloudy day, one feels enveloped in this tropical haven, underneath its natural “roof” of palm trees. There is a sense of being enclosed.  A sea of dormant Kaffir lilies blanket the ground, with scatterings of their bright red berries starting to show.  On a rainy day, the sound of the rain echoes in the Palm Forest.

From the top of the Italian Terrace Garden, showers not only bring much-needed water, but open up the sky with magnificent views of the Pacific and Catalina Island.   On a clear day after it showers, these views remind us why Virginia and Harry Robinson fell in love with this site when they first came upon it… Read More

Visit to Ojai Enchants the Fellows

Jeanne contacted her friend, Carolyn Bennett, who moved from the mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles to a farm in Ojai 12 years ago, to help her find special private gardens in this popular town. Carolyn has been active in the Garden Club of America, worked for Nancy Goslee Power, served on the Boards of the LA County Arboretum, California Garden and Landscape History Society, the Garden School Foundation and the Cultural Landscape Foundation. She currently lectures on garden related subjects and knows some great folks in her new hometown, so she was the perfect “booker.”

A few days before our Ojai adventure, torrential rains were predicted, so we moved our Tuesday events indoors. Our first visit was to the most charming home covered by Boston ivy. Stonehouse was designed and built by Austin Pierpont as his honeymoon cottage between 1918-1920. The property was bordered by his family home designed by Julia Morgan which is still owned by the Pierponts… Read More

Holiday Fun at the Wreath Making Workshop

On a festively brisk late November morning, “Friend” Jelena Trifunovic of Viola Florals held a Holiday Wreath Making Workshop on the VRG tennis court.   Eleven members were treated to their own table pre-set with branches of cedar, noble fir, silver fir, magnolia leaves, pinecones, in addition to a paddle of wire and a wire wreath frame. For the finishing touches, there was a separate table of accouterments which included cinnamon sticks, dried orange and apple slices, pinecones in various styles complemented by ribbons in different colors, textures, and prints.  To complement the workshop, Viola Floral set up a pop-up holiday gift table offering a selection of gift items from female-owned businesses, as well as fresh Viola Floral holiday bouquets… Read More

A Presentation on Workhorse Roses for Southern California Gardens by Tom Carruth

After retiring from a very successful career as a hybridizer with Weeks Wholesale Rose Grower, Tom Carruth was hired by the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens as the E. L. & Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections.

Tom has created over 150 hybrids and is the recipient of 11 All-America Rose Selections (AARS). And in 2011, he was awarded the Luther Burbank Award for extraordinary achievement in the field of plant breeding by the American Horticultural Society.

Tom mentioned that his love for plants began at a very young age. When he was 11 years old, he was selling Burpee Seeds and saved enough money to buy a collection of nine roses from a mail order nursery.  After high school, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a master’s degree in plant breeding from Texas A&M… Read More

The Duesenberg Caper and the Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group

The Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group had a large turnout this past Saturday, December 10, 2022, at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. It was exciting that we had so many first-time attendees!  The Duesenberg Caper by Roger Corea brought in some car enthusiasts like the Robinsons must have been; some attendees had family members who had raced cars.  In this novel, we enjoyed reliving the dynamism between the two protagonists Ada and Andrew and their eye-opening exposure to the criminal enterprises surrounding the auctions of rare high-end luxury vehicles in that era and as set in Sicily.  Our next gathering on March 18, 2023, will enjoy discussing the book Charles Chaplin: My Autobiography. Mr.  Chaplin, a one-time neighbor of the Robinsons, was a frequent guest and mixed doubles tennis partner of Virginia.  His career and popularity are legendary, and he sets forth a compelling case for this in his own words… Read More

Spotlight on Mary Hampson

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 Mary Hampson, a wonderful and dedicated Friend. A member of the Garden Conservancy and the Santa Barbara Garden Club, Mary generously hosted the Fellows in her beautiful garden and home in Montecito on two different occasions. She was a co-chair for the Membership Luncheon in 2019. Always helpful, she assisted in decorating the Christmas trees in the Main House and served on the Garden Tour Committee… Read More