RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


Gardens of privilege – Virginia Robinson Estate

virginia robinson gardens

View of the main house

The informative text in italics is taken directly from the Virgina Robinson Gardens website.

As long as I have lived in Los Angeles (all my adult life) I am still learning about and discovering new places. This is one such place.

virginia robinson gardens

Lawns are no longer bright green in LA due to the severe drought.

It was a hot day so I decided against taking the bus and struggling up the hill behind Sunset Boulevard… and Cinnamon Girl needed an outing. So I drove my car with the lovely air conditioning.

virginia robinson gardens

Pool house is undergoing renovation and pool is drained.

Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Known for hosting the areas most legendary parties—it was not uncommon to catch famed individuals entering and leaving the estate.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, the garden is recognized as not only a historical landmark, but also as an exotic paradise that all sightseers are invited to enjoy.

virginia robinson gardens

When Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, she was arguably one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. Nevertheless, she left her legendary home and gardens in serious disrepair. A leaky roof and a dangerous electrical system threatened the very survival of this cultural landmark.

virginia robinson gardens

“The Friends of Robinson Gardens” was founded in 1982 with a Board of Directors and a general membership of over 75 committed women.

virginia robinson gardens

A great deal was accomplished in a short period of time. The Friends of Robinson Gardens raised enough money to begin crucial repairs, establish docent programs, and begin educational seminars. Coincidentally, Robinsons Department Store, originally known as the Boston Dry Goods Store in downtown Los Angeles and owned by Harry Robinson’s family, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

virginia robinson gardens

A letter from President Reagan that year called the Friends of Robinson Gardens “a fine example of what can be accomplished through cooperation between the private and public sector,” and congratulated the group on its significant accomplishments. Since its inception in 1982, the Friends have restored all of the historic buildings on the property according to the strict standards set by the Department of Interior and the Friends are contributing one quarter of the Gardens annual operating budget.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.


virginia robinson gardens

The Robinson Gardens was once the site of lavish Hollywood parties. Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills 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.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

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.


virginia robinson gardens

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.


virginia robinson gardens

As the first luxury estate built in the world’s most famous residential neighborhood [Beverly Hills], the multi-faceted historic property provides an opportunity to experience the world of privilege in early Los Angeles.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

This cat was not at all disturbed by the visitors intruding on his shady nap. I believe his name is Henry or Harry, just can’t remember which!

virginia robinson gardens

A couple of very fancy bird houses… well, they are Beverly Hills birds!



virginia robinson gardens

The potting shed




virginia robinson gardens

It’s Southern California so you gotta have a palm tree forest in your garden!



virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

The perfect location for a mid afternoon cup of tea!

virginia robinson gardens

And of course, a pink tennis court. Why not?

We were able to tour the interior of the house but not allowed to take photos.

Traffic was pretty bad driving through Beverly Hills back to Culver City on a Saturday afternoon but my chauffeur had the day off, so what could I do?

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


Beverly Hills cactus garden

beverly hills cactus gardenBeverly Gardens Park is a narrow stretch that runs the length of Beverly Hills on the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard, about two miles or 23 blocks. It is divided into various sections with different kinds of plants, sculptures and fountains.

The Cactus Garden is located between N. Camden Drive and N. Bedford Drive. It contains desert plants including cactus and succulents.

The photo above and below shows The Church of the Good Shepherd bell tower rising above the trees at the north end.

Church of the Good Shepherd

I love century plants. This one below is the agave americana var. medio-picta – Yellow-Striped Century Plant

Eons ago I worked in Beverly Hills as project manager for an interior design company. I used to enjoy strolling through this park at lunch time.
beverly  gardens cactus gardenI am not a plant expert so I am afraid I can’t tell you what these are… I am sure if I took the time I could find the names but it is already past my bedtime after a very tiring day!

beverly  gardens cactus gardenI love all the plants of the desert, they are the most mysterious and striking of all plant life, in my opinion.

beverly-hills-121414-143-C-850pxAnd who doesn’t love the majestic Washingtonia (Mexican Fan) palm trees?

beverly  gardens cactus garden

beverly  gardens cactus gardenI’ll be posting more photos of other parts of the garden from time to time with more information about the park. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the photos of the Cactus Garden.

beverly-hills-121414-187-C-850px beverly-hills-121414-200-C-850px beverly-hills-121414-206-C-850px beverly-hills-121414-212-C-850px beverly  gardens cactus gardenAll photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


You are invited to join my free Sierra Club Discovery Walk of Sunset Boulevard from La Brea to Rodeo Drive


Sunday, June 9, starting at 8:45am: Stroll along and learn about the world famous Sunset Boulevard. We will be walking from La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles through West Hollywood, ending at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

This Sierra Club walk is sponsored by the Sierra Singles and West Los Angeles Group but you don’t have to be single, live in West LA or even be a member of the Sierra Club to participate. As always, the public is welcome.  

Please click here for the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter schedule for all the info you need.

O: Sunset Blvd & La Brea to Rodeo Dr Discovery Walk

Date: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Time: 8:45 AM
Presented by: Angeles Chp Sierra Singles
Level: Easy
Location: West Sunset Blvd and North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA

O: Socially paced, 4.5 mi rt. with many stops to learn about the history, art and architecture of this part of Sunset Blvd. Some of the sites include the Guitar Center Rockwalk, Director’s Guild of America, the Whisky A Go Go, Chateau Marmont, Saddle Ranch, views of the Hollywood Hills, multi-million dollar mansions and the pink Beverly Hills Hotel. Bring a sandwich to eat at beautiful Will Rogers Memorial Park at Rodeo or hop on the Metro Line #2 bus back to La Brea. Meet 8:45 am at NW corner of La Brea and Sunset. 3 – 4 hrs. Wear walking shoes. Bring water, snacks, sun protection. Dress appropriately for weather. Co-sponsored by Sierra Singles and West Los Angeles Group.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!