Every year around this time, I see signs all over Beverly Hills advertising the Virginia Robinson Gardens annual tour. As I am sitting at a red light, I have a momentary vision of Audrey Hepburn and friends strolling through an old Hollywood estate in divine hats. After all, who hasn’t heard about those legendary parties the Robinsons hosted at that estate? Nonetheless, I move on and don’t look back when the light turns green. This time around, something inexplicable prompts me to further investigate the situation. The probe turns up quite a gem. Let’s learn how to garden in one of the country’s most treasured gardens: the Virginia Robinson Gardens.
The Virginia Robinson estate was one of the very first residences in Beverly Hills. The land was barren back in 1911. After relocating from New York and building the estate with her husband, Harry, Virginia quickly became the First Lady of Beverly Hills (although some say Mary Pickford really held that title, but that is neither here nor there). It is a piece of old Hollywood that patrons have lovingly preserved for decades. The property is always open to the public for garden tours. However, every May, all four Robinson properties are open to “Friends of the Robinson Gardens.” At this special time, visitors have full access to the “Beverly House,” “Hernando’s Hideaway,” “A Hilltop With a View,” and the eight-acre “The Best Exotic Bel Air Estate.” Each interior is fully decorated by the best local florists and designers. This is all well and good, but I kept wondering, “Who takes care of these gazillion acres of gardens year in and year out?” I can’t even keep one plant alive, let alone an estate of this proportion. It was then that I was introduced to the gardens’ superintendent of about 20 years. We downloaded. “Tim,” I asked (his name is Tim Lindsay), “how do you do it all? These gardens are pristine. Can you please give us tips on how to make our gardens grow?” Here are Tim Lindsay’s top five tips on gardening.
1. Check the functionality of your irrigation. Adjust, replace, and activate heads either manually or visually. In other words, look and make sure you are only watering the gardens, and not the sidewalk and everything around them.
2. Check sprinkler run time and frequency of irrigation on the clock. There may have been droughts and rainy days that impacted the effectiveness of current settings. Most people overwater their gardens by 50 percent. Reducing minimally goes a long way in conserving water.
3. Fertilize lawns and other woody plants.
4. Mulch all planting areas and conserve water to reduce weed growth. You can actually purchase inexpensive mulch at the Department of Water and Power. Or, you can always go to OSH or Home Depot. Also, you could use the leaves that many gardeners tend to overblow as your mulch.
5. Prune your hedges to shape your roses and shrubs. Always focus on size control.
Come up smelling like roses and visit the Virginia Robinson Gardens soon.
Virginia Robinson Gardens
27th Annual Garden Tour “Masterpiece”
May 16, 2015
1008 Elden Way