Each month we spotlight a volunteer, staff member, docent, donor, or sponsor of 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 Catherine Fellowes, a dedicated Friend of Robinson Gardens Member. She is a very talented interior designer who has generously donated her time to beautifully restore, design, and refurbish many rooms in the VRG house.
We asked her these three questions:
1. How did you first learn about VRG, and what inspired you to become a Friend?
My grandparents were avid gardeners, and my grandmother was always very involved in Garden Clubs. They had beautiful native mid-western plants throughout their gardens and lush vegetable beds. They both instilled in me a deep love of and respect for gardening. I can still recall the specific fragrance of the mulch they would apply to the beds every fall and the lush heads of lettuce my grandmother would harvest and then later serve sprinkled lightly with dill and vinaigrette.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I saw the signs for the Robinson Gardens Tour hanging along Sunset Boulevard, and they caught my attention and intrigued me. In a funny twist of events, when I purchased my home in the hills of Silver Lake, I was informed by the realtor that the house once belonged to a female member of the Robinson family of the Robinson-May department store. This turned out later to be false, and other people have suggested who the renowned original owner may have been (one was a former gossip society writer from the 30’s), but, I loved the idea, and it inspired me to cultivate my own gardens. It wasn’t until I met Ellen Levitt and Jeanne Anderson that I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to tour the historic gardens and estate, both of which were captivating.
- What’s your role – How do you contribute to VRG?
I have had the privilege to work closely with Tim Lindsay, April Walton, Ellen Levitt, Jeanne Anderson, and Cynthia Carlson on the restoration of the Pool Pavilion. It has been a complete delight to be involved in these projects which include the restoration, design and refurbishing of the Friend’s Room, the Pavilion Kitchen, the Card Room and some pieces in the Billiards Room. The Pool Pavilion is such a beautiful and special place filled with memories of parties past and present. Every time I enter the rooms there, I am filled with nostalgia and love imagining the stories of the Robinsons’ travels across the world to bring back beauty to their new home.
- Can you share a favorite VRG memory with us?
I have two favorite memories. The first of which was during a small private tour of the gardens at dusk. My son was with me as well as a few friends. Jeanne Anderson led the tour, and the evening light was just settling into the palms around us, casting long shadows. It was very magical to be moving through the garden watching the colors and shapes change. The cat joined us, and my son was thrilled to have such an enchanting companion to lead us on.
My second favorite memory is walking up into the Card Room for the very first time. I had not realized it existed, and it was delightful to walk up the curving staircase and to find the original furniture untouched. The Card Room must have been so special for Virginia, and I was thrilled to help restore it back to its grandeur.