2022 Garden Tour
Home for the Holidays Extravaganza
“The day was crystal clear after the rain, and the Friends and their guests on the Great Lawn reminded me of a beautiful Monet painting, but the best evidence of the success of the Garden Tour were the totally empty cookie trays in the Pool Pavilion,” remarked Joan Selwyn, the founder of the Friends. Our annual Garden Tour raises much needed funds for the preservation and restoration of our beloved Virginia Robinson Gardens. Thanks to our terrific Garden Tour co-chairs Elaine Stein and Katie Marsano, the 2022 Garden Tour, Home for the Holidays Extravaganza on November 5 was a fabulous day, filled with beauty and inspiration. It was a labor of love not only for our co-chairs, but also for our wonderful President Betty Goldstein, and our very talented and dedicated Garden Tour Committee, Superintendent Diane Sipos, volunteers, docents, curator April Walton and our County staff, and Member Relations & Administrative Manager Barbara Remedios.
The tour included two stunning private gardens, thanks to Maralee Beck and Jeanne Anderson, who worked tirelessly with our generous hosts, longtime Patrons of the Friends, and our enthusiastic volunteers to present these very special gardens, both offering spectacular views of the golf course of the Riviera Country Club.
The original concept of the first garden was conceived by the renowned Belgian firm Wirtz international and was subsequently translated by the very talented garden designer Lisa Zeder. Working in tandem with the Wirtzes, Lisa used hedges of Japanese boxwood and Carolina cherry to shape the spaces into a series of serene green terraces, each offering a different view. Water features, flowering trees and shrubs enliven the garden space while delicate roses emerge from billowing hedges in this Certified Wildlife Habitat sanctuary. Another very dramatic addition to the landscape is the work of visionary light artist James Turrell. He installed a light pavilion overlooking the swimming pool, which reflects a 45-minute cycle of colors changing from green to blue to pink to orange, bringing enjoyment to friends and neighbors all along the ridge.
The second garden was created and shared generously by the owner who, with the help of landscape designer March Wiseley, transformed the craftsman-influenced home to epitomize California’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle. From the street entrance, you are embraced by the owner’s passion for roses. As you walk through the house, the very private feeling opens up to dazzling views of the golf club and a backyard tailored for entertaining. A huge Coral tree, hydrangeas, azaleas, and camellias decorate the space, and various tables allow seatings to venture from the outdoor dining option to the covered patio. The landscape reflects water-wise strategies with style and elegance in a terraced garden while a fruit and flower cutting garden allows the signature Southern California delights of citrus, figs, and floral experiments to flourish.
After viewing these remarkable estates, the guests enjoyed the Virginia Robinson Gardens where select rooms of the house and exterior spaces were transformed by top florists and designers. Always a highlight of Garden Tour, and thanks to Kerstin Royce who selects the florists, these dazzling floral displays never fail to delight and inspire the attendees.
A new member of the Friends, Virginia Newman decorated the Front Entrance with holiday-themed conical topiaries festooned with white doves and pinecones in decorative urns. These glorious “Morgan Della Robbia Planters” are resin reproductions cast from old-world estate originals, created by Virginia’s company, Pennoyer Newman. An ivy topiary decorated with white orchids and carnations resting on Mrs. Robinson’s decorative monkey garden ornament (also cast by Virginia from the original), further enhanced the festive theme.
Nearby, Superintendent Emeritus Timothy Lindsay arranged a colorful display of cheerful yellow and red chrysanthemums, pink echeveria, and clipped boxwood balls.
Lynne Vinkovic of Rose Lane Farms’ luscious and enticing bouquets of roses graced the Great Hall while Hannah Melde created a striking autumnal arrangement titled “Golden Heron.”
The Yellow Salon was adorned with many stunning fall vignettes featuring lit candles, gourds, pumpkins, pinecones, golden acorns, peonies, roses, and other flowers and foliage masterfully designed by Hilary Bein Florals. The dazzling mantle was simply glorious with the most ravishing arrangement of roses in golden urns flanking either side of a gilded rococo clock. Pianist Gere Fennelly added to the magical scene with her lovely tunes.
Multiple pretty bouquets of deep red roses with ferns and foliage created by Friends member Jelena Trifunovic of Viola Floral continued the romantic holiday theme in the Guest Room.
In the Library, Jean-Pascal Lemire created a harmonious melange of chrysanthemums, roses and other flowers in fall colors in turquoise vases, a complementary color that enhanced the vibrancy of the flowers. Kathleen Spiegelman and Todd Mangiafico of Kathleen Spiegelman Design Studio enlivened the library space with sumptuous golden candlesticks. On the Library Terrace, Kathleen displayed handsome outdoor furniture and golden lanterns hanging from a tree while Debra Matsumoto’s bouquet of roses and other flowers in soft pink, apricot, and burgundy hues, accented with greens, was a vision of delightful beauty on Kathleen’s old country antique table. Also decorating the space were Jean-Pascal’s lovely floral variations in square boxes, showing patterns of repeating roses among dried flowers.
Bedecked with bright orange berries, red, white, and pink roses and contrasting green foliage, the Dining Room table decorated by florist George Martinez of George’s Garden was a vision of holiday opulence and warmth. Caroline Bender of CB Lifestyle complemented the rich floral display with beautifully patterned plates, gilded flatware, twist candles and many other elegant accessories that embellished the sparkling tablescape.
George and Caroline continued their enchanting collaboration on the table in the Loggia. The flowered tablecloth, green and burgundy glasses, plates decorated with butterflies, pink gingham napkins, and the white and black swan “boats” created the prettiest of scenes. Exquisite arrangements of deep red, pink, and blue florals with dancing stems of yellow flowers in golden vases echoed the vibrant colors in the chintz tablecloth.
On the Back Patio, Tim Lindsay created a colorful and striking vignette with differing pots, plants, and textures. Tim explained, “It is a ‘potted plant display’ of succulent plants, with the exception of the two potted petunia plants I used to figuratively bring the Robinson concrete monkey to life. I played with colors and textures that complemented and contrasted the shutter color, while simultaneously playing the animate (the plants) off of the inanimate objects -- the teak sideboard, shutters and the ‘found' piece of driftwood.”
In the Pool Pavilion, Friends member March Wiseley, representing the Bel Air Garden Club, presented a stunning Christmas tableau replete with creative and opulent multiple arrangements. Each one starred a different plant or fruit ranging from pears; to pomegranates; roses with ivy; lemons; and even a “topiary” of pinecones.
On the opposite side of the room, Mary Lu Tuthill and Devon Williams, representing the Brentwood Garden Club, displayed a cheerful and tropical Hawaiian Christmas vignette with birds of paradise, exotic orchids, ferns, decorative shells and silvery balls. The lovely woven basket containers and the various plants with their reddish pink and fuchsia hues provided a lively contrast to the lush greenery.
On the table of the Silent Auction, Amanda Gray of Florals by Amanda created a graceful bouquet of roses and other flowers in soft fall colors with trailing leaves framing the florals in a tall, elegant silver vase.
In the Galleria, a Christmas tree decorated by Haven & Co. was a dazzling vision of white and gold elegance! The beautifully decorated gift boxes at the foot of the tree and merry Santas on a white sled completed the cheery wintry scene.
After seeing all these luxurious displays, the attendees then sat at tables with festive centerpieces made by the Garden Tour Committee on the Great Lawn. They enjoyed a superb and an outstanding luncheon catered by Sean Murphy Catering & Events. Overseen by Elaine, and prepared by chef Trevor Zimmerman, the menu featured a blueberry balsamic salmon with a spicy mango-jicama slaw, a charred citrus chicken with a chimichurri relish, a wild arugula salad, a sugar snap pea, quinoa and farro salad, artisan bread, and an apple pomegranate crumble tart which completed this delicious repast.
The pièce de résistance was the sumptuous dessert table in the Pool Pavilion overseen by President Betty Goldstein and Nicole Antoine. The table was adorned abundantly with floral displays, fruit, and decorative touches by Jelena and Katie. The desserts featured an array of tantalizing cookies baked by the Friends and served on elegant silver trays. Adding to the culinary delights were delectable chocolates by andSons Chocolatiers from Beverly Hills. And last, but not least, the signature Garden Tour coconut cake, crowned with luscious red roses on top, was a hit with the attendees.
The silent auction chaired by Jeanne Anderson and with the help of Lynn Whitaker and Suz Landay was very popular. From stays at the Bel Air Hotel and Beverly Hills Hotel, a Tristar Plus E-Bike, a brunch at a historic Hancock Park home, a scarf designed by Joan Selwyn, a tour of the Huntington Gardens by Tim Lindsay to donations from vendors, there were many exciting items on which to bid.
The holiday boutique, chaired by Stacy Klines and with the help of Katie Marsano, Nicole Antoine, Susan Finkelman, Patti Reinstein, Andrea Layne, and Anna Koral, featured terrific vendors. The attendees excitedly shopped exquisite items with 20% of the sale proceeds donated to Robinson Gardens.
As a fun memento of the day, guests had the opportunity to have a picture taken of them by Shutterbox Photo Booth in front of the Display Rose Garden.
Betty concluded, "The perfect weather set the tone for the November Garden Tour. I heard only amazing comments about the beauty of the outside gardens, and there were special surprises at every turn. Robinson Gardens once again turned into a wonderland with the help of the many florists and vendors. One of the highlights, new this year, was the silver service dessert table in the Pool Pavilion with displays of dozens of cookies, amazing candies, and of course our signature coconut cake. The day was a feast for the eyes and appetite."
Katie added, “There is something particularly joyful when charged with a task wrought with challenges only to have it exceed all expectations. From the beginning, Garden Tour 2022 was unpredictable; a new COVID variant caused a postponement of the event, a drought shifted it once again, and finally a water ban added another wrinkle. Despite the uncertainty, the Garden Tour Committee continued to be nimble and created a distinctive event embracing both the gardens and the holidays. I am indebted to my chair, Elaine Stein, for her good nature and endless well of humor and our incredibly dedicated Garden Tour Committee and VRG Staff. I have a deep sense of pride for what we accomplished together.”
We are so thankful to our fabulous President, co-chairs, committee members, docents and volunteers, Superintendent and County staff, the very talented florists and designers, and generous hosts of the private gardens for giving us such a superlative and magical day.
And all for a worthy cause – preserving the Virginia Robinson Gardens and the Children’s Science Programs, including the very successful and popular Children’s Outreach Program, where children are educated and inspired by the beauty, serenity, and the splendor of the Gardens.
Please save the date for our next Garden Tour Back in Bloom on May 20, 2023!
Post by Linda Meadows
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member and Editor of the Happenings
Photos by Linda Meadows, Katie Marsano, Ron and Elaine Stein, Emina Darakjy, Kerstin Royce, Kate Romero, Sharon Gart, and Dana Reston