Thoughts & Inspiration from the Friends


A Swedish Christmas

It is a pleasure for me to share some of my fond memories of the Swedish Christmas traditions and the cuisine that followed me from my homeland when I moved to the United States at age 22.

November in Sweden is probably my least favorite month. The snow has not yet fallen to brighten up the landscape. It is dark, gloomy, and it rains a lot.

When December and Advent comes, Swedes seem uplifted.

They hang lit paper stars in their windows, take out the Advent candles, and the baking and prepping for Christmas begins. Gingerbread cookies and special candies are made, and the stores are full of Christmas decorations. The churches and schools have their holiday programs. Little children get their Advent calendars, and each day they open a window to find a small chocolate confirming a day closer to when Santa arrives.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Kennon Klein-McCarthy

“To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”
– Nancy Reagan

My dearest friend Luke Anderson and new friend Jeanne Anderson were kind enough to introduce me to the magical gardens at the Virginia Robinson Estate. The summer of 2019 was a difficult time for my family with my father’s passing and my mother feeling lost and a bit out of sorts. My parents were married over 50 years, my mother marrying my father at the youthful age of 20. Losing her life partner was devastating as many of you may know all too well.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Keeley Smith

“There isn’t a tree in the world that the wind hasn’t shaken.”

I first encountered this Hindu proverb in 2015. I had travelled to Southwestern India to live a month in a one room grass hut on the beach of the Arabian Sea, studying and practicing yogic philosophies and learning to unwind. It was in this attempt to discover life’s greater meaning, when its heft was placed upon me by my yoga teacher. Hearing those words just weeks after my relocation to Los Angeles from New York, I must admit their poignancy fell on my deaf ears. Island life on Manhattan can predispose one to an attitude that there isn’t really an existence beyond the granite and concrete of one the world’s most diverse and exciting anything-is-possible, go-go-go cities.… Read More

Falling Into Autumn

Falling Into Autumn
By Rodney Kemerer, Member of the Friends of Robinson Gardens

My brain is hardwired to the smells from my childhood. At this time of the year it is the smell of burning leaves. As early as I can remember, growing up in the Midwest and later in Pennsylvania, the smell of burning leaves told my brain that winter was coming. As the first pile of leaves was raked together and then slowly smoldered into flame, the smell permeated the neighborhood. It was the signal to break out the corduroy pants and sweater vests. Fall was always my favorite season — the closing in, the shutting down, the preparing for winter, never cold enough to be uncomfortable, but it was the warning sign that freezing weather lay ahead.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Ann Petersen

Mary Osborne has so eloquently expressed my feeling when in the company of trees. I have had a love affair with trees since I was a child, and my father planted a tree nursery on our farm in Illinois. I loved the birch tree then, but when we moved to Santa Barbara, I fell in love with the California oak tree. As an adult, I have always had a home in the mountains surrounded by trees where I retreat to find serenity and peace of mind. I love the smell of the pines and the sound of the wind blowing in the trees.

Forests and trees provide many benefits and services to society, including clean water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, carbon storage and improved human health. Community trees help reduce air and water pollution, improve physical and mental health as well as reduce crime rates.… Read More

Virginia Robinson Gardens Offers Extraordinary Salve: Volunteering at the Gardens

An Inspirational Message from Friends of Robinson Gardens Member Laura Coleman.

Mornings spent in the Virginia Robinson Gardens are among the most beautiful experiences imaginable. From walking through the King Palm Forest in the mist, the scent of water lifting off leaves, to that first rewarding vista of Virginia and Harry Robinson’s onetime home, every moment spent at the Gardens is a treasure.

Amidst the turmoil of the pandemic, all of us are living life to the best of our capacities. And all of us have fear in our hearts that our loved ones could be afflicted. To say that the Gardens offer an immensely soothing respite during this time is truly an understatement.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Natalie Gordon

Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

These days, there is a strong preoccupation with tomorrow. Questions like, “When will we get a vaccine?” or “When will life return to some form of normal?” dominate nearly every headline. And while the often-devastating news rages on outside our doors, many of us remain at home, hoping for a brighter tomorrow.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Regina Drucker

“Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden, I will meet you there.”

Words so prescient by the Sufi Poet, Rumi, wrote these words in the 13th century. Rumi writes that Love, Truth and Beauty dwell in a Garden. Precious water nourishes the Flower in its celebration of the most reverent color in Persian lore, Green. This explains the devotional myth for the carved Mughal Emerald gemstone. Gardens bring Calm to those who wander through Paradise’s pathways.… Read More