August 2022 | Beverly Hills Living

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everly Hills’ first ever estate was purchased in 1911, before the city had even become established in 1927. This famous 6.3 acre piece of land, now known as the famous Virginia Robinson Gardens, is home to rich city history and beautifully landscaped vegetation that embodies the spirit of socialite Virgina Robinson. Recently retired Former Superintendent Timothy Lindsay shares his experience working for the gardens over the past 20+ years and developing its well known beauty the city sees today.

Q: How did you fall into landscape architecture?

A: Landscape and history was an early passion for me. I worked with my grandfather in his garden after he retired. His garden had function — a space for edible vegetation and a space for aesthetic floral growth. Learning about his plans, the culture, the background of the plants, where it grows, why certain species grow with sun while others with shade, helped my early knowledge of strategic landscaping. This passion stayed with me through my formal education where I studied the liberal arts (sociology, culture, arts) and landscape design.

Q: What are some of your largest projects or resume builders?

A: After my education, I started teaching landscaping and design in Florida. Eventually I moved to Southern California. Southern California can grow more species of plants than anywhere else in the United States, so naturally this felt like a good move. I accepted a job at the Arboretum. I loved that it fused my affinity for both history and landscape. I got to work with


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historians and restoration architects which really solidified my ability to revive history through growing more vegetation and species here. I worked there for 7.5 years and then the Virginia Robinson Garden opportunity became available. I then spent the remainder of my career there.

Q: Can you go into detail about the historical significance of the Virginia Gardens?

A: To do that I have to go into detail about who Virginia Robinson was. The gardens can be described as a mirror of her and the significance she and her husband held in society at that time. She is often referred to as the “First Lady of Beverly Hills” given that she not only housed the first estate in the city, but she was a symbol of utmost class, elegance, philanthropy, and societal significance. She had an elite status and hosted the most exclusive, high-end parties at the mansion and garden. She and her husband owned six Duesenberg vehicles (the utmost luxurious and rare vehicles at the time) during their lifetime which was the most anyone ever owned. Her status was one that put her in a world in which Dorothy Chandler came over for cocktails, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had tea in one room, the Disney family wedded in the gardens; the property became a hub where one can witness the crossroads between the gilded age and the golden age of Hollywood, where early 20th century movers and shakers were eager to attended her exclusive and prestigious events. Virginia, however, always had elements of “fun.” She was above all a host, and made sure her events were one to remember and her guests had a remarkable time. Given her influence on culture and the significance her parties held in society, I wanted to