Lotusland

Thank you thank you lovely readers for your words of encouragement! You’ve given me renewed enthusiasm!

Let me tell you about one of the best days of my life so far.

It was my birthday. And a big one. David asked me how I wanted to spend it,  and received the strictest instructions of the “don’t you dare” variety not to organize a surprise party. Eeew. I’m phobic about being the center of attention.

One doesn’t really want to think too much about such a birthday let alone come up with a way to celebrate it, so I was quite pleased with myself for remembering that ever since I’ve lived in LA I’ve wanted to visit Lotusland, the garden in Montecito.

Montecito is just south of Santa Barbara. If you’re visiting the LA area, and you like plants, it’s a must see. Due to parking restrictions, reservations are required. Information here. This is because the neighbors on the surrounding estates were not keen on it being open to the public, so they struck a compromise and restricted the number of cars that could be there at any one time. If you’ve ever driven around the meandering Montecito roads and wondered what’s behind the grandiose gates, this is your chance to look inside.

It was the most beautiful day in every imaginable way, not the least least of which was my family surprising me and showing up to accompany us.

lotus land
A place or state of languid contentment.
[After the Land of the Lotus-eaters in the Odyssey]

I love gardens, especially Southern California/Mediterranean gardens.

This one was established by an eccentric Polish woman and sometime opera singer, Madame Ganna Walska, who married a succession of rich men, hence accumulating wealth which she chose to spend on a 37-acre garden. I can’t think of a better way to spend a fortune. Her style is distinct and very beautiful, with large numbers of any particular plant and in some cases, like cycads, plants that no longer exist in the native habitat. She could never buy just one of anything, or even 10, she bought hundreds. This was her style. It gives a feeling of lushness and plenty and is visually stunning.

The climate in Montecito is my kind of perfect, not too hot, with ocean breezes that make a garden tour on a sunny day a very pleasant thing to do.

First sight on beginning our tour: a lemon-covered pergola. What a fantastic idea.

I won’t attempt to name all the plants since I didn’t have the good sense to write them down and now I don’t remember but this one we all know – an organ pipe cactus about to flower

prickly pear

multitude

beautiful sculptural agave

California live oak

olives – hey, I’m doing all right with my naming so far

one of several ponds, this one edged with abalone shells in the shape of lotus flowers

giant clam shell waterfall

in the Japanese garden

large pond filled with lotus

is this bamboo?

just when you’re completely dazzled by the combinations of bright green and silver, you come across the pink residence and signs of Delft

does anyone know what plant this is?

Dracaena from Africa. Lotusland has a spectacular collection.

the fern garden – masterful plantings of trees give it shade.

Even though my small house will have only a tiny space for a garden, I’m inspired by Madame to make it beautiful.

Mel

 

 

2 Responses to “Lotusland”

  1. Gina diroma-Edwards Says:

    Hi Mel,

    What a lovely trip! Dennis and I got married in Montecito so I can feel the emotion of the place in your lovely pictures. I hope you had a great birthday, this year is a big one for me too! I really would love to see you as Dennis and I are contemplating our move up to Chico, Ca. We bought a 1920′s California Bungalow right in the center of the little farming town a couple years ago. It seems like the prices are right to sell our So. Cal house so we might take the plunge at the end of the year. I hope you are enjoying Santa Monica again, glad to see your back!

  2. meppybn Says:

    I’m so glad to have found you again! – lost my laptop six months ago and so all my blogs too :( – and your new baby book – love it! Love small houses and you are on the right track there, good luck:)

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