While New York lay under yet another layer of snow early one February morning I was delighted to be high in the sun kissed Beverly Hills touring the Virginia Robinson Gardens. During my visit, Director, Tim Lindsay, President, Kerstin Royce, along with Ellen Levitt and Nicole Antoine were my gracious hosts and tour guides as we walked the entire property and toured the house, grounds and pool house. I do not believe we missed an inch, including a new kitchen recently installed in the pool pavilion to support the many events and classes that take place there. Anyone that knows historic preservation understands the fundraising required and the sensitive consideration that all factor into these projects.
The gardens were the life long love of Virginia Robinson who spent 66 years as champion and steward of the five gardens there. (For the complete history and description of the garden I advise viewing the website and/or buying the book, The House and Gardens of Virginia & Harry Robinson.)
While touring the front garden, the great lawn, the kitchen garden, the cut garden, the Italian terrace garden and the cool shaded Palm Forest I swooned over plants and blossoms that in the chilly zones of the Northeast are impossible to cultivate. I am resigned to grow some as annuals, and some in pots, like my American agave and olive trees - all spend the winter in the greenhouse. The book generously shares the plant lists for each garden.
What is important to remember as one explores the lushness that surrounds you during these walks is that this part of Beverly Hills was a barren hillside. With the foresight of true visionaries, Virginia and Harry Robinson selected one of the highest sites above Sunset Blvd, and built one of the 20th century's finest gardens.
It is always worth reminding ourselves that many of the historic and significant gardens we tour around the world started out looking like a wasteland. (See below) The stories of the people that created them have intrigued me even more. The vision, the stamina, the curiosity the stick-to-it never say die attitudes have given us great beauty to feed our eyes and souls and peaceful havens inviting us to stroll and collect our thoughts.
After my delightful morning walking the grounds I was treated to a petite dejuener on the veranda. Fresh squeezed orange juice from the property, coffee and croissants on a table set with beautiful linens and flowers.
Then…I had to leave to attend a meeting.
Trust me, it was all down the proverbial hill from there.
So, do yourself a favor, if you have not visited these gardens, make an appointment on one of your next visits to Los Angeles.
I look forward to my NEXT visit.
Virginia Robinson Gardens
1008 Elden Way
Beverly Hills, California 90210
The Virginia Robinson Gardens and home are available for docent led tours Tuesday through Friday at 10 AM and 1 PM by appointment only.
To make a reservation, please call (310) 550-2087 or email Robinson Gardens HERE preferably two weeks in advance.