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Ganna Walska Lotusland is a globally renowned 37-acre estate and botanic garden hidden away in the foothills of Montecito. This botanic wonder features 13 themed gardens and 3,000+ plants from around the world (including rare cycads, cacti & euphorbias). Touring Ganna Walska Lotusland is a must when visiting Santa Barbara.
During the 2-hour tour, passionate Docents take you through the garden and blend a nice combination of botanical facts with biographical details. It was fascinating learning about the unique collections of plants, and the unique woman who created them.
The garden creator was a Polish opera singer named Madame Ganna Walska. She sang opera in New York and Paris, toured America and Europe and was married 6 times before she moved to California and purchased the estate in 1941. She named the gardens “Lotusland” in honor of the sacred Indian Lotus growing in one of the ponds on the property. Madame Ganna Walska spent the following 43 years of her life curating the gardens and experimenting with bold forms and unusual color combinations. She poured all of her energy and resources into creating the garden, and she worked with a number of landscape architects and designers. She wanted the best, the biggest, and the most unusual plants available and was often willing to pay any price to get them. In the 1970s she even auctioned off some of her jewelry in order to finance her final creation – the cycad garden.
After her death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit botanic garden and opened to the public in 1993. Madame Walska’s legacy lives on in her gardens, and her passion is immediately evident to anyone who visits Lotusland.
A visit to Lotusland is an awe-inspiring experience into the gardens and the life of their creator. Don’t let the price of admission and reservation-only restrictions deter you from experiencing this Santa Barbara gem.
Tips for Visiting:
- Reservations are required! Plan ahead and make your reservation as early as possible to ensure your spot in the small, docent-guided group tours.
- Although the gardens are beautiful all year long, the Lotus flowers (from which the garden takes its name) bloom in the summer.
- Bring water and sunblock.