From Flower Power to Vocal Power: A Grand Night of Opera at the Virginia Robinson Gardens
Published by Lisa Gimmy, ASLA, LEED AP Photo Courtesy of El Nido Family Centers
Once the site of glamorous soirees, Virginia Robinson’s legendary Beverly Hills mansion and garden has become a destination for horticulture enthusiasts, landscape architects, admirers of nature…and now, music lovers as well.
A little backstory…
During her lifetime Viginia Robinson led the comfortable life of socialite: playing tennis, throwing lavish parties, swimming in her pool—which was modeled after the famous Villa Pisani in Italy—and, of course, spending time cultivating her extraordinary gardens. Also renowned for her philanthropy, Robinson was one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. In her forward-thinking wisdom, she decided to bequeath her home to the county so that future generations could enjoy the gardens.
Since 1982 the organization Friends of Robinson Gardens has been holding an annual tour—to promote this historically significant landmark and to raise funds for preservation and educational programs throughout the year. For the tour, held every third Saturday in May, event organizers bring in florists who literally transform the rooms of the Robinson’s house into flower-filled fantasias.
In this photo below from this past May’s tour, you can see how florist Grand Eclair created a tableau with roses, hydrangeas and peonies literally flowing from the meadow into Virginia’s bedroom.
One of the loveliest aspects of Robinson’s single-story home is that it is designed to catch the gentle winds that come up the hillside, so that even on the warmest of days, the house remains relatively cool. In this photo of Virgina’s bath, you can see the curtains billowing in the breeze along with Flowermaid’s lovely floral arrangements.
Robinson’s personal garden is a little over five acres and comprises three components: a formal core with the house at the lower end, and a lawn that rises up gradually to the nearby swimming pool and pavilion.
The western exposure, being dryer, features Mediterranean plantings.
The Robinsons were part of a large social network within Beverly Hills, so it’s no coincidence that the house and the pool house were designed for hosting parties—which is exactly what Friends of Robinson Gardens is doing: recreating the type of party that Robinson would have had, were she still with us today.