“Voices From The Garden”

Text by
Rodney Kemerer
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member

A solitary walk through a garden can be a spiritual experience. The best ones always are. The feeling is one of many voices, your inner voice, calming your mind as nature washes over you. The voice of nature itself, the wind through the leaves, the birds moving about, and, at your feet, the smallest of creatures going about the business of living create their own background music. The deeper into the garden you go, the richer and more profound are the voices. Here you open up and allow nature to penetrate any armor you wear in your daily life. Walking further, the voices of the creation of the garden emerge. The energy of countless hours that created such an environment manifest themselves in something far greater than its small parts. Our endeavors are imbued with ourselves, a piece of our spiritual essence attaches itself to these deeds.

The Virginia Robinson Gardens has been blessed with many good deeds for over twenty-five years by Tim Lindsay. He has become a part of his creation. While strolling down one of Virginia’s many garden paths, stop for a moment, look and listen closely. You will hear the voice of Tim. Everywhere.

Here are some of the other “Voices From The Garden”…

 

Joan Selwyn

Virginia Robinson would walk her magnificent gardens twice a day alongside her majordomo, Ivo Hadjiev. No one dared to leave a water hose on the garden path for fear of her displeasure. Her gardens were her pride and joy, and they were magnificent and pristine. When Virginia passed away, the County took over the Gardens. Time passed and like the princess in the fairy tale “The Sleeping Beauty,” Virginia’s gardens fell asleep.

No one was in charge. Plants, seeded in by birds and the wind, had grown into large shrubs and trees corrupted the original design. How fortunate we are to have had Tim’s talent and love of Gardens to bring them back to their original beauty.

When talking to Tim one day, I asked him what he did to relax. He said, “I chill out by going to nurseries.” Certainly, for the average person, this is “a busman’s holiday,” but Tim is the Dr. Doolittle of the plant world. How blessed we have been to have him perform his magic on Mrs. Robinsons' magnificent gardens, restoring them, preserving them, and improving their environment so they could thrive once again for future generations.

Today the gardens bloom, and the birds sing their songs because of Tim’s sincerity, talent, and dedication to preserving the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

 

Jeanne Anderson

Tim – my friend

Tim has expanded the way I see and hear gardens. It has been an insightful education watching him transform VRG along with taking his gardening classes.

When the new children’s Wildlife Pond planting was done, he had me watch the grasses moving with the breeze and listen to the palm fronds make their music.

Years ago, when the city imposed watering restrictions, Tim created the Wildflower Meadow in front of the house. I love watching all the changes it goes through and how it benefits the wildlife. Tim was invaluable in sharing his knowledge on the various trips he attended with the Fellows including Newport, Litchfield County, and Scottsdale. He also added tremendous beauty to both my gardens. Tim is a masterful diplomat at all VRG events. He has a calming presence and is the majestic tree we could all lean on.

 

Betty R. Goldstein

Dear Tim,

You and I have shared a most interesting two years. Who would ever have imagined a pandemic! All through the two years of my presidency, you have been a steady hand as we maneuvered through health guidelines, events, postponing events, masks no masks, and the closing of the Gardens.

Before the pandemic, as I walked through the garden as a gardener and as a docent, there had been many times that I would notice a new addition to the garden. I remember walking through with a tour one day, and there at the turn of the path, was a field of garlic plants with the stemmed purple flowers, a lovely surprise.

Your love for this garden is seen in so many ways, and your determination to continue the legacy of the Gardens, always with the vision of Virginia in mind are very evident as we stroll through. You have made each garden its own story, and you have enhanced the story to continue that sense of beauty, order, and calmness that Virginia appreciated. And the wonderful addition of the Children’s Wildlife Pond -- loving children, Virginia would have loved it!  You have left your mark in this beautiful place.

Thank you, Tim for all that you have done.

Betty R. Goldstein
President of the Friends of The Virginia Robinson Gardens

 

Maralee Beck -- from a few years back.

The latest improvement here at the Gardens is hard to imagine in this heatwave, but we actually have beautifully functioning air conditioning here at the estate!!

Of course, that’s not the only improvement Tim Lindsay has helmed in his two decades as our superintendent -- much of which you can see all around us…but let me share with you some of the reasons why Tim is so very special to us in his on-going tenure as Superintendent:

Many of you know Tim hails from Illinois and brought an armful of degrees – in Forestry, Plant and Soil Sciences, County Administration, and more, all of which he has continued to build upon.  Of course, I also think his family position, oldest son with two younger sisters, also prepared him well to deal with our support group here.

Tim has taught, published multiple articles and several books, including our Centennial book about this First Estate in Beverly Hills, and he has a landscape consulting business. After 71/2 years as Assistant Superintendent at one of our County's sister properties – the Los Angeles County Arboretum, we won the lottery when Tim was assigned to the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

With his lifelong interest in architecture & antiques, he was the perfect person to help return this fabled estate to its period of significance, the 1950s, when Virginia dominated the scene as the First Lady of Beverly Hills.

Tim first observed, learned from Virginia’s last Major Domo Ivo Hadjiev, who lived here until 2004 and honed his skills to do what is so well done: renovations that match or surpass the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for the restoration of landmark properties.  It was one of my great thrills as a Cultural Heritage Commissioner for this city to vote this property Beverly Hills Historic Landmark #2, joining its state and national rankings.

Tim studied historic houses in England – was awarded the Attingham Summer School scholarship, generously donated by Maggie & David Gordon – and sharpened his preservation skills. What a great laboratory he has had.

Before we let him tell you what’s been accomplished, I’d like to present our Tim with a token of our appreciation: a one-week flyaway to Palm Springs in a private plane donated & piloted by our dear members Janice Jerde & her fiancé Peter del Rosso.

So, please won’t you please raise your glasses & join me in a toast of thanks, appreciation, & more growth together.

 

Evelyn Carlson

I think of Tim as the ever-resourceful New Renaissance man, juggling the roles of horticulturist, repairman/contractor, and diplomat according to the demands of the day.  My most favorite time with Tim was working long hours with him, Marcella Ruble, Maralee Beck, and Jaime Wolf on the Beverly Hills’ First Estate book.

I will never forget Tim’s problem-solving ingenuity during a Garden Tour several years ago.  My assignment was to be the house cashier in the Entrance Hall.  However, the cashier table was too low for me.  Ever resourceful, Tim ran off and immediately came back with an armful of large tuna fish cans pilfered from the earthquake supply cache.  He put three large cans under each table leg and covered up the table and its legs with a long tablecloth.  Voila.  It worked.  For years, I cashiered like this In the Entry Hall, with the credit card machine on top of a teetering tower of tuna.  It was a metaphor for how Garden Tours happened each year.  There was always some near disaster going on in the background that Tim handled with an innovative solution and good humor.

 

Kerstin Royce     

Dear Tim,

You are retiring as Superintendent from VRG! We are having a lovely party -- you will have your favorite coconut cake, and you have found a wonderful replacement. But I firmly believe your heart and soul will forever stay at Robinson Gardens and with the Friends. We all know that you will be there for us and the Gardens when need be, as you so faithfully have been for over 20 years.

I look back in gratitude to you for so many things during my years at VRG, but two areas stand out. The first one being your support for the Children’s Program, especially during the difficult Covid years. If you had not worked with us and allowed us to occupy the garage for the Children’s Outreach Program, over 3,000 students now in the underserved LAUSD schools would not have had the joy of getting the special learning kits from Robinson Gardens. To say it has been a success is an understatement!

The Botanical Program has been what many of the Friends’ members have been drawn to, and we now have a very good beginning of creating a Florilegium at VRG. Because you befriended the famous teacher Anne-Marie Evans many years ago, we have this wonderful program at the Gardens, and I personally am so grateful to have discovered the joy of painting botanical watercolors. Again, you allow us to use the lovely Pool Pavilion for a good stretch of time, so we have enough time to be able to go through all the steps and finally accomplish some degree of success.

It is now “onward” for you and of course, I wish you all the happiness in your next journey.

Looking forward to hearing about your adventures, wherever they are taking you…just be careful of sharks next time you swim to Alcatraz Island since we like all of you present the next time we see you at The Virginia Robinson Gardens.

Lots of love,

Kerstin

 

Ellisa Bregman

Tim has not only been the Superintendent of the Virginia Robinson Gardens but also a wonderful friend these past twenty-five years. His insight and great knowledge regarding the home and gardens are irreplaceable.

He is always calm amidst the storms whatever they may be, and there have been some memorable ones!  Tim is someone who is very approachable, and he makes you feel welcome.

I will miss being able to ask Tim for advice. He always had a solution to whatever the problem was. I especially appreciated it when I was on the restoration committee so many years ago, knowing what a huge responsibility it was.

We all have had so many experiences together, some funny and some serious, but we could always depend on Tim. He has, without a doubt, been our rock and will be missed.

Tim, we wish you great success in all your future endeavors, and thank you for all you have done for the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

 

Leslie Kavanaugh

To Tim …. Our Friend, our Representative, our Advocate, our Dreamer, our Planner, our Leader, our talented Visionary, our Super Gardener, our Historian, our Lecturer, our “Friends” Friend…

What do we do……. Just Call Tim….. if…
A spike goes through the lawn sprinkler because of stakes in the tent for Gala…
The guest bathrooms backs up…
We need a special tour in 5 minutes…
There are chickens out in the garden…
Tim’s car needs to move for the Children’s Program…
We need some flowers quickly for a table…
The pool is leaking…
We need to plan fundraisers…
We need a garden history lesson…
We just need a FRIEND!

Thank you, Tim, for making my life at VRG so happy and full of love! I will miss you!

Love,

Leslie

 

Patty Elias

What an adventure we have had sifting through the photos and memories of dear Harry & Virginia Robinson! Due to your enthusiasm and perseverance, the legacy left behind by the Robinsons will be forever preserved in their archive and shared with the world at large. This project has been a blessing made better with you at the helm. Farewell seems too odd to say to the gentleman who has spent so many years supporting and protecting what we know as the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Your journey at the garden seems to be a labor of love and a destiny that was certain. The garden would not be what it is without you. Not only have you taken care of its beauty, but you navigated its preservation and its survival with grace and whimsy. You can rest easy knowing that you left it better than you found it and that it will indeed thrive.

We will miss you here, and I will certainly miss my 2:00 pm coffee break! Farewell for today but see you soon!

 

Regina Drucker

My Mind’s Eye sees Tim smiling with a twinkle in his eye, always exuding REALNESS. He made one welcome, a part of a family that dwells within a Magical Garden overlooking a Dream. His Destiny brought him to care for The Dream on Elden, thus he is a historical era which the foundation of VRG is built upon. Seeing his visions manifest over the decades in Conserving, Curating and Directing VRG through the 20th & 21st Centuries, I find that Tim is Timeless and a Legend of The Friends of VRG.

 

Ellen Levitt

The sun it did shine
For Tim’s great retirement day.
So, we schemed and we plotted
There’s so much to say.
I sat there with Jeanne
We sat there we two.
And we said how the VRG is transformed
Largely by you.
We sat and we sat so far being on track
And while you’re looking forward
We’re looking back.
There’s you in the main house kitchen
With me at your side.
Looking at rusted cabinets and paint chips
With history as our guide.
From Virginia’s dishes to her card room
The Pool Pavilion’s kitchen and Friend’s office too
Great taste and a stickler for detail
I loved working with you.
With vision and kindness
You led the team.
The County, the Friends, the Gardens
An accomplishment supreme.
With skill and with flourish
You create like a pro.
And in your garden, you make everything grow.
I wish I could be with you
To celebrate with your family and friends.
For the list of those who love you
Just never seems to end.
The creative side of Tim
We all know so well.
It’s easy to toast him as you can all tell.
But what makes Tim
The person we cherish and love.
It’s his passion and caring
That are over and above.
For it’s what inside of Tim
That sets him apart.
There is no tape measure long enough
To measure the size of his heart.

 

Marcella Ruble   

I was very fortunate to have met Tim at the very first Gala I went to at the Robinson Gardens in 1997 or 1998. Because it was through Ivo Hadjev that I learned about the Gala, Ivo kindly had my husband and I included at his table where Marguerite and Tim were also sitting. I absolutely fell in love with the Gardens that night and with Tim, Marguerite, and Ivo. Tim has continued to be a perfect person to lead the Gardens to a continually developing and always improving the estate. His impact on the Gardens will be felt long into the future, and we are all very lucky to have benefited from his leadership.

 

Linda Meadows

Dearest Tim,

Like the Queen of England for the British, you have always been there for us at the Gardens as far as I can remember. Your steady, diplomatic, and calm presence has always been a gentle force for everyone around you. You are so talented in so many ways, and we have been so lucky to have you at VRG. Your articles on various subjects are always beautifully written, lyrical, and poetic. I am always so delighted when you write articles for our newsletter. Thank you for all your kindness, knowledge, and generosity of spirit. I will miss you with all my heart.

With much respect, appreciation, admiration, and fondness,

Linda

 

Phil Savenick

A treasure is only truly a treasure if it is appreciated and shared.

Tim Lindsay has spent the last quarter-century making sure Beverly Hills’ hidden treasure is preserved, maintained, and improved.

The innovative educational programs, events benefiting worthwhile causes, and daily tours ensure that this unique slice of early California life will not only endure but also have a relevance in today’s world.

He has carried out the vision and preserved the legacy of Virginia and Harry Robinson’s dream.

Well done! Our thanks and congratulations to Tim.

My favorite personal memories are the many times I was fortunate to have him show me around the house and gardens. We made a video together for the Gardens' benefit that still airs on Beverly Hills Television. Whether we were with a group of schoolchildren, eager volunteers, or a County Supervisor, he was always fascinating, passionate, and made the history come alive. I can never drive down San Vicente and not think of the Coral Tree he pointed out in VRG. I will miss him.

 

 

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