Whether you’re a Tourist or a Townie, there’s always something different and fun to do in the Los Angeles area. But the cost of fun in the City of Angels can add up fast. Below is number 6 in a series of 25 things to do in Los Angeles that will cost $25 or less.
Where would you find a lush forest of Australian King Palms, six acres of traditional gardens, including an Italian terrace garden and a rose garden, a pool pavilion, and a historic mansion all on one estate? Could it be in the English countryside, the mountains of the Punjab or the hills of Tuscany?
No, it’s in Beverly Hills, of course! The Virginia Robinson Estate was the home of department store magnets Virginia and Harry Robinson and was the first luxury estate in Beverly Hills. It was built in 1911 in the Beaux Arts style by architect Nathaniel Dryden, Virginia’s father, and furnished with antiques and objets d’art from around the world. The pool pavilion was added in 1924, modeled after the Tuscan Villa Pisani in the Renaissance Revival style.
The idyllic Virginia Robinson Gardens have seen many a star-studded party in their day with royal guests from across the pond, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Hollywood royalty like Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire. Elvis Presley lived next door. I wonder if the Beverly Hillbillies ever paid a visit.
Five styles of gardens flourish on the estate, from Renaissance Mediterranean to Tropical Oceana, with Citrus trees, Magnolias, Camellias, Azaleas, Gingers, Bananas, Plumerias and more. There’s a kitchen garden with vegetables and an herb garden, too.
After Mrs. Robinson’s death in 1977, the estate, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was bequeathed to the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation and is jointly maintained by the County and the non-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens. The home and gardens are open to the public for docent-led tours by appointment only and are located at 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, behind the Beverly Hills Hotel. Call (310) 550-2087 or email email@example.com for a reservation, preferably two weeks in advance. They don’t allow walk-ins. The tour costs $11.00 for adults and includes a walk-through of the home, but focuses mainly on the gardens.
Check the Robinson Gardens website for educational programs with notable speakers, book authors and entrepreneurs about a variety of topics covering art, culture and history. There are also gardening classes and botanical illustration classes.