Finally, I’m at Lotusland!!! I am a little nervous. They’re checking our credentials to make sure we’re worthy of touring without a docent. I’m trying to look cool. You know like I belong there, I don’t need to be “escorted”, when in reality I’m so geeked-out and eager to be on my way that I can hardly stand the waiting. Okay the word comes down…we pass! We are off, on our own…in paradise…
I am sure the docent tour would have been lovely, and I would have learned many things, but I needed to move at my speed. Even if you’re a member (as we are, thank god I was in-the-know on that one) your time in the garden is limited. We had just a little over 2.5 hours to see it all!
This was the original entrance that led to the Madame Walska’s home (I'm on the inside looking out)...
After entering the gate you travel down this fabulous drive with Agave attenuata flanking the road on both sides.
Look at the size of the trunk!
The Cycad garden was incredible…
Encephalartos horridus Macrozamia communis
There were so many beautiful Bromeliads! Seeing them in this environment certainly helped me to understand the lighting conditions that they thrive in.
Look another Vriesea imperialis!
Dunno...but I love it...
I love the criss-cross pattern of the foliage on this palm
Aeoniums The “famous” Oyster fountain
Close up of Aloe marlothii Aloe plicatilis Fan Aloe
The Lotus pond
And the Lotus pond bog gardens, on either side of the benches Wow…Agave bracteosa… Agave bracteosa, close up. This is the biggest one that I’ve seen “in real life,” Isn’t it graceful?
Agave gypsophila… so curvy! I need one! (I know…I need them all!) Isn’t it sexy? Agave victoria-reginae…seeing this one it dawned on me that I didn’t yet have one of these in my collection (problem solved thanks to online shopping)
Agaves in the distance...
Crown of Thorns
My fondness for Barrel Cactus is growing. These are spectacular! Euphorbia ingens Weeping Form, near the former home of Ganna Walska. Euphorbia ingens close up Aeonium Schwarzkopf and the tiled parking area in front of the home. Something I’m sure I would have learned from the docent but I found on their website…”Santa Barbara receives only about 16 inches of rain a year, so you may be impressed -- or perhaps startled -- by the vast amounts of water required to keep the garden going. Luckily the property has its own well. What's more, as the country's only sustainable ornamental garden, Lotusland no longer relies on chemical fertilizers or herbicides.” Go Lotusland!
Dragon tree or Dracaena draco
Also from their website…” Walska didn't always seek out plants in remote locales. Ms. Wolf explained how Walska created her Dragon Tree forest by driving around the neighborhood. "When she found a good specimen, she had her chauffeur knock on the front door and offer the owner some money. If someone didn't want to sell, she usually had a case of champagne delivered and that changed their minds." I like her style!
Behind the home, look at those Banana!
And the Moorish pond with its long tiled rill
The Neptune fountain
The smell walking along under the lemons was intoxicating!
The Dunlap Cactus Collection - From a sign near the entrance we learned this is the Dunlap Cactus Collection of Merritt Sigsbee Dunlap, friend of fellow cactus enthusiast Ganna Walska. His collection, including 530 specimens representing over 300 different kinds of cacti and 40% of them grown from seed, was gathered over a 70-year period and donated to Lotusland in 1999.
Birds Nest Fern (we've left the Dunlap Cactus Collection)Tree fern and Alocasia odora
And our time in the garden draws to an end. Oh and I finally bought something!
Having seen the stunning Agave bracteosa at Lotusland I was in love. They were selling a good sized pup for $7, so naturally I had to have it. Of course I completely forgot that my parents bought me one at Cistus just a month ago. Perhaps I’ll plant one in the ground and keep one in a pot and see how they perform. And my big score…they had an Encephalartos horridus! It’s small but I am so happy to have it!
I was so impressed by Santa Barbara; it seemed a gardener’s paradise. I asked the lady in the gift shop if she was a gardener. She was, and completely agreed that she was living in plant-heaven. Turns out she grew up across the street from Lotusland, on the other side of the “pink wall” she said that her brothers used to dare each other to climb over the wall and into the gardens, back when Madame was still living.
Ok I must say I was disappointed when I started going through my Lotusland pictures, I didn’t have nearly the fabulous photos that I thought I would. I think somewhere along the line I forgot what I was seeing with my eyes was not magically being recorded by my camera, plus it was a beautiful sunny day, the kind of day that creates harsh shadows and makes macro garden “big picture” photography a very tricky thing. I don’t feel I fully captured the beauty in the garden. You just need to go see it for yourself!