Welcoming Fall


The heat and humidity that have made the last few weeks so uncomfortable finally seem to be abating. And while raindrops may or may not fall this weekend, I’m grateful for lower temperatures, the approach of autumn — always my favorite season — and the inspiring stories of our Fall Home and Garden issue.

For the residents of The Oaks neighborhood in Santa Paula, the recent heat wave didn’t go unnoticed. But they had an edge over some of us. This particular area, as the name implies, is dominated by old, large oaks and other native vegetation, giving it something of an enchanted forest feel — and blessed, enviable shade. Mike and Melanie Binsley, two residents of The Oaks who grace our front cover, have found numerous ways to enjoy their outdoor environment. With a bocce ball court in front, covered patio and stone benches in back and a house inextricably linked to the history of Ventura County, there’s so much to explore in this home that has aged like a fine wine since it was built in 1937. I hope you’ll enjoy exploring it, too, in our Cover Story.

There’s a very different tale to tell about the Robinson residence. While the Binsley home dates back decades, Marty and Tom Robinson’s Southwest Pueblo-style abode was built in 2018. Or, rather, rebuilt: The original home in Ventura’s hillside community of Ondulando burned down to the ground in the Thomas Fire of December 2017. They share how they came back from such a devastating loss, finding solace and support in family and friends, and rediscovering a powerful sense of gratitude, in About Town.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens was also scathed by that destructive inferno. “Virtually every plant was impacted in some way by the fire,” recalls Tracy Long, who serves on the board of directors. And yet, as she and others deeply involved with the gardens can attest, VBG has come back stronger and more beautiful than ever. Several of them spoke about the history of the gardens, the recovery and restoration efforts, the ambitious plans for the future and more in Conversation.

Just thinking about the Ventura Botanical Gardens has me grateful all over again for the cooler weather and the fact that fall is on its way. Perhaps I’ll welcome it with a hike through this lovely local treasure. I hope you will find something similarly beautiful, joyful and life affirming to do during these balmy days, and that many good things are in store for the season to come.

– Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer