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 Sunday Taylor, a dedicated Friends of Robinson Gardens Member. She has co-chaired Garden Tour, Gala and the Education lecture program. She also has written beautiful articles for the Happenings about Garden Tour. When we are able to have Education lectures once again at VRG, we will be featuring Sunday who will give us a presentation on her delightful new novel, The Anglophile’s Notebook.
We asked her these four questions:
1. How did you first learn about VRG, and what inspired you to become a Friend?
In 2002, after living in Malibu for twenty-five years and raising our children there, my husband and I moved back to Brentwood, where we had lived right after getting married. Our daughters were gone -- one in college in Maine and the other one working in New York – and it felt like a good time to move back “into town.”
We built a house in Brentwood and after living in it for a few years, I realized I wanted to create a garden. I asked my sister about it, and she said, “Well, if you really want to learn about gardens, you should join Robinson Gardens.” She had been a member before moving to Connecticut, and, in fact, had two tickets to VRG’s Garden Tour which she couldn’t use and gave to me. Such a good idea! Of course, going to your first Garden Tour is a magical experience, and I was utterly captivated. I applied for membership and was accepted. Joining was one of the best things I could have done as I began the next chapter of my life as an empty nester.
2. What’s your role - How do you contribute to VRG?
In addition to entering this enchanting world of gardens, I met some wonderful women who have become lifelong friends. Working on a project with others is one of the best ways to bond, and I quickly began to join committees and became a board member. Having grown up on the East Coast amidst myriad old and beautiful historic buildings, I was interested in the topic of historic preservation. The resplendent Robinson Estate was quite old for Los Angeles and certainly worthy of loving care. So, I was thrilled to get involved in VRG’s fundraising activities. I was Garden Tour co-chair, Gala co-chair and Education co-chair. I also enjoyed writing articles for the Newsletter.
3. Can you share a favorite VRG memory with us?
There are so many! The Garden Tours are favorite memories for me. But I’ve always loved the Education lectures as well. When I was Education co-chair with Jeanne Anderson, I couldn’t resist infusing a bit of my literary interests into our lecture topics. And so, I arranged for an English professor from UCLA to give a lecture on “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Jane Austen.” (I knew Professor Batten from my years at UCLA.) Now, this lecture was obviously more literary in nature than horticultural, but as we all learned, there are some impressive garden and landscape scenes in Austen’s novels. Professor Batten’s lecture was a total delight. With a twinkle in his eye and a wonderful sense of humor, he regaled us with the genius of Jane Austen.
My other favorite memory from those Education lectures was when we had Peggy Dark from The Kitchen for Exploring Foods give us a cooking class on “Fall Entertaining.” Peggy was a popular and successful Pasadena caterer who had written a fabulous cookbook. Her menu was impressive, an elegant four-course lunch. But the showstopper was a dessert she called “Snow Pudding,” otherwise known as “Oeufs a la Neige.” We were riveted by her process. She laid dollops of meringue on top of crème anglaise in a martini glass, topping it all with a gooseberry. It was a thing of beauty! We all went home determined to make this elegant dessert.
Classes on cooking, flower arranging, interior design and Jane Austen – some of the many wonderful and eclectic Education Lectures offered over the years at Robinson Gardens. I will never forget any of them. In my opinion, they do double duty: raise funds for VRG in the most enjoyable way and create camaraderie among the members, bringing together a group of dynamic women over lunch and learning something new. Truly one of my favorite parts of VRG!
4. Would you like to share any additional information?
My novel The Anglophile’s Notebook has just been published! It is a literary mystery set in England. My heroine Claire Easton is a writer and magazine editor living in Los Angeles, married to a successful music producer, Ben Roden. As Ben is about to leave on a three-month music tour in Australia, Claire travels to England to research a book on her favorite author, Charlotte Brontë, a love she inherited from her otherwise inattentive mother. While seeking Brontë’s secrets, Claire discovers her own.
The Anglophile’s Notebook will whisk the reader away to literary London and the beautifully wild landscape of Yorkshire, home to the Brontë sisters. Brimming with writerly ghosts, enchanting bookstores, cozy pubs, English country gardens, and memorable characters, this book is for anyone who has found their imagination in the gardens of rural England or a two-hundred-year-old bookstore in London and felt utterly alive.