Lotusland, a Magical Garden

July 25, 2016

SC Guide


by Valerie Summers
On a beautiful summer morning I arrived at the gate to Lotusland, a 37-acre botanic garden situated in the residential neighborhood of Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara. I had heard tales about its creator, Polish born opera singer, socialite and collector of several husbands, Madame Ganna Walska, a woman who lived a variety of lifestyles and detested the average is apparent to those who visit. She spent more than 40 years cultivating the exotic collection which flourishes on the property. Our group of eight, led by volunteer docent extraordinaire Jim Snelling, guided us on an exploration of the estate for two plus hours, adding both humor and botanic information about some of the more than 3,000 different plants from around the world to our tour.
The 20 plus gardens of this beautifully designed estate can’t be covered in a single visit. Guests wander through areas filled with subtropical and subtropical plants from around the world and extraordinary collections of rare cycads, cacti, palms and euphorbias. I was most interested in seeing the Lotus garden which did not disappoint with its exquisite pink and white coloration set again vibrant green leaves and buds. We moved on to the newly renovated Japanese Garden,  the favorite of most of our group. The water feature, statuary and flora all lent an air of tranquility.
In contrast,the stark yet majestic cactus garden included soaring plants of considerable age, several showing off colorful flowers. Just around the bend we stopped to view another picturesque setting…rare species of cycads nestled next to a quiet pond. So much to see!
Lotusland beckons visitors to return time and again for it is impossible to cover the entire estate in one visit.  It is necessary to make advance reservations as this very popular botanic garden, one of the most beautiful in the country, is situated in a residential neighborhood and allows a limited number of visitors. Open mid-February to mid-November, Wednesday-Saturday.
Montecito, California
805- 969-9990

One Response to “Lotusland, a Magical Garden”

  1. jim snelling Says:

    What a wonderful well-written article. So glad you were inspired. Lotusland is truly a magical place ! Hope you come back again often to be renewed.
    Much cheers,