Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lotusland Part One

Part of the reason Cynthia and I went to California last weekend was to tour Lotusland, an amazing garden, just South of Santa Barbara. I recently bought a book that highlights all the most beautiful gardens in the world. This garden made that book.
There is 37 acres of property. It was originally owned by a man who ran a nursery back in the late 1800's. He would bribe ship captains to bring him specimen plants from all over the world. So he started the wonderful garden.s
Then Ganna Walska and her 6th husband bought the property in 1941. She was a world famous polish opera singer. She spent the next 43 years of her life designing unusual display gardens with exotic plants. She experimented with forms, textures, colors, vistas and theatrical displays. There is a series of different gardens to explore.
I LOVED it all. and I took a TON of photos. So I will break the posts up into sections. Even so, I am not posting all of the hundreds of photos I took!

There are many succulents in the garden. This planter was for sale in the entrance.

Tours are by appointment only and cost 45$. You can only go through in small groups of docent led tours. If you buy a membership for 75$, you can go through the gardens on your own. It's worth it if you go more than once in a year. There are several walkways with trees trained over them. I can't remember what kind this first group were.

A plaque and fountain commemorating Ganna Walska's vision.

Our docent was very nice and informative.

 This entrance way was breathtaking. She used massed plantings (lots of the same plants) for theatrical effect. It is common now, but was an innovation at the time. I loved this.

In the tropical garden, were many of what we think of as Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera. They were in hanging pots or attached to trees. We were a little early for the blooms, but they would be amazing!

Also in the tropical section was ginger! It was cool to see ginger root just like you buy in the store. There was also amazing philodendrons, snaking up trees and bamboo, bananas and other tropicals.

The next section was the cycad garden. Cycads look like ferns or palms but are neither. They are prehistoric plants, most closely related to pine trees. This garden has an amazing collection of very rare plants. Some of these do not exist anywhere else anymore.

 They bear cones. Some of the cones are soft and furry. These plants coexisted with dinosaurs and have changed very minimally since then.

Our docent said you could just imagine a dinosaur head peeking up through this area.

There were many different and rare palms in the garden. This is a wine palm from south America. They are almost completely extinct in South America. They trees were cut down and fermented to make wine. This is one of the specimens brought back by sea captains. Can you see the large pieces of slag glass used to line the paths?

Lots of unusual trees.

A gentleman from England gave all the statuary from his estate to Madame Walska to use in her garden. I thought they had a lot of personality. I liked them a lot.

Now we are in the succulent garden.

Then we came to the blue garden. There was a special exhibit going on at the garden, Flock together, art work of birds. These were large cutouts. The blue garden was cool, in that it uses many different kind of blue hued plants.

View across lawn from the blue garden.

 These trees were recently replanted in the blue garden, but eventually will be quite large.

More in the next post!

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