Day 118- Visit a garden

#18, Visit six notable gardens, 3/6

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Today my friend Erica and I went to the Virginia Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills.

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We parked, payed our $11, and met our docent (in pink above). Virginia Robinson’s favorite color was pink. We met inside the home where we began our tour.

Some parts of the house are on the tour.

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Others are not.

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The gardens were fragrant and blooming everywhere.

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The Virginia Robinson Gardens is a historic estate, which was built in 1911. It was once the residence of retail giants Virginia and Harry Robinson (of the Robinson department stores) and now occupies an illustrious place in history as the first luxury estate built in Beverly Hills.
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Virginia married J.W. Robinson’s heir, Harry Winchester Robinson, in 1903; after which, they embarked on a three year honeymoon to Europe, India, and Kashmir.
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When they returned, the newlyweds commissioned Virginia’s father, Nathaniel Dryden, to design their historic mansion on a plot of beautifully sloped land, originally owned by the founder of Beverly Hills, Mr. Burton Green. After the completion of their home, Virginia Robinson used her green thumb to create Beverly Hills’ most engaging public site.
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Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.
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 The property has an Australian King Palm Forest, a Rose Garden and an Italian Terrace Garden.
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There is also a field of wildflowers
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and an Orchid House, with manicured hedges and a kitchen garden. Behind the Orchid House is an aviary which was once home to 200 Australian bluebirds. Now it is a hen house.
IMG_3250Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills (even her staff was trained by White House staff) and her triumphs as a hostess are legendary: her diverse guests included royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire; her neighbors were Glenn Ford, Lillian Disney and Elvis Presley. She sipped champagne cocktails with Sophia Loren and challenged Charlie Chaplin to a spirited game of tennis – all with her signature elegance and class.

She was equally renowned for her philanthropy. Among the many benefits she hosted, the Hollywood Bowl Patronesses Benefit was a favorite. Each year, after the opening of the Hollywood Bowl season, the orchestra would repeat their performance on the estate’s Great Lawn, to the delight of her guests.

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Shortly before her death in 1977, Mrs. Robinson bequeathed her estate to Los Angeles County. The County, along with the not-for-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens, preserves the estate for future generations to enjoy.

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The Friends of Robinson Gardens volunteer their time and resources to maintain the house and grounds and keep Mrs. Robinson’s legacy alive. The Friends’ annual Benefit Patron Gala and “…into the Garden” Benefit Garden Tour are the highlights of Beverly Hills’ social calendar.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 9.48.08 PMThe next event is coming up on May 14, 2016.  This event is truly unique in that ticket holders have the opportunity to visit selected private home gardens rarely seen by the public. The affair peaks mid-day with a catered luncheon at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, where the Friends honor a member of the community as the Grand Marshal. Throughout the estate, ticket holders can view the mansion’s historical rooms uniquely embellished by premier interior designers and florists. The luncheon program includes a fashion show of the latest looks by IRO, as well as an opportunity to purchase unique gifts at a boutique located on the tennis courts.

Keying off the popular Spanish song, this year’s theme “De Colores; The Art of Botanical Seduction” will excite, stimulate, and entertain with references to Spanish gardens, from the beautiful Alhambra all through Latin America. Florists and designers will transform the Robinson Gardens estate into a riot of colors. Private gardens will inspire patrons, and a colorful boutique and bountiful buffet will ensure the loveliest day of the year at the most incredible public garden in Los Angeles County.

We thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the gardens and marveling over waterlilies in the pond,

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or seeing the oldest Coral Tree in Los Angeles.

In fact, all of the Coral Trees on San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood, were grown from cuttings from Virginia Robinson’s tree.

The most remarkable thing about the gardens, beside their overall size and the variety of the plants, is the feeling of calm and serenity that permeates the estate.

A cool breeze blows through the giant trees, and you feel like you’re far from any city, without a care in the world.

248 days to go!

 

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