by Barbara Lee on August 12, 2012

Lotusland is a magical 37 acre botanical phenomenon with twenty themed gardens filled with a variety of exotic plants.  Tucked behind enormous privacy gates in the exclusive residential area of Montecito, California, docent lead tours will guide you through this enchanted property.

This was the home of Madame Ganna Walska, an opera star who lived in Paris and New York before settling in California.  She purchased the property from her sixth husband in 1941 and spent the last 43 years of her life dedicated to her gardens.  She worked with several landscape architects and designers creating this sensational Eden in the suburbs.

Feels like a desert

She has somehow achieved a compatible ambience among her themed gardens.  One moment you are in an oppressively hot cactus garden and just around the bend is a calming fern garden.  A herd of whimsical topiary animals surprise you on your way to the rose garden which displays some interesting stone design as a compliment to the scented beauties.

Topiary Garden

A large open grassy area was once the site for elaborate garden parties where brightly painted carousel ponies decked the lawn.  It’s quiet now, but listen hard and imagine the laughter rising up from the garden and infusing the air with party conversation.

Entrance to the Rose Garden

One of my favorite areas was the lotus garden which was once the swimming pool.  Filled in with mud, the pool now sprouts a field of exotic flowers where orange dragon flies come to dance on the water and to rest briefly on the huge flat leaves.

Lotus Garden

I envied the citrus garden where a long pergola covered in lemons gave some needed shade in the heat of the afternoon. How wonderful to have so many lemons at your fingertips.  I restrained myself from reaching up and snatching one.   The path then led to the olive tree grove which transplanted me to the Mediterranean.

Under the Lemons

The serenity of the Japanese garden induced a meditative feeling with its large pond surrounded with small maples and willow trees.  Baby tears and moss crept over the ground creating a cool green carpet.

Japanese Garden


Giant Shell Fountain

Super Sized Aloes

The Theater Garden

Beautiful Stonework in the Rose Garden


These are just some of the highlights of this wonderous place.  If you like gardens and find yourself in the Santa Barbara area, I suggest you reserve a tour to this very magical Lotusland.




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