Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Vignette: Cactus Garden at Lotusland

Lotusland is one of the most famous - and unique - gardens in Southern California.  On land purchased in the Santa Barbara area in 1941, Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish-born opera singer known as much for her scandalous love life as her singing ability, created a garden that reflected her varied plant interests.  Denise of A Growing Obsession has written about the garden several times recently, which tugged at my own recollections of the place.  My last visit, in 2008, was underwritten by a friend as a birthday present.  If I took photos, they've long ago disappeared.  However, by happenstance, I came across a file containing photos taken by my friend during that visit.  She prefers anonymity but she approved my use of her photos so I thought I'd share a few selections featuring Lotusland's cactus garden for today's Wednesday Vignette post, sponsored by Anna of Flutter & Hum.

This photo, taken at the entrance of the cactus garden with tall cactus looming in the distance and one of the garden's many fountains in the foreground, is among my favorites

Our tour was scheduled mid-day so many of the images are sun-drenched, but I still love the contrast here between the delicacy of the cactus flowers and the prickly cactus and stone mulch

 




Admittance to the garden is permitted by reservation only.  There is a significant entrance fee but the garden is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum to discover what images have caught her fancy and the attention of other bloggers this week.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. So beautiful! I spent a day at Lotusland in April 2013 and can't wait to get back. It's such a unique place. I'm glad Mme Walska had the money to make her horticultural dreams a reality--and that she was wise enough to set up a foundation that would protect Lotusland in perpetuity.

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    1. That woman knew what she wanted - and how to get it!

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  2. Wonderful. I used to hate gardens like this but I love them now. How wonderful to be able to indulge your fantasies like this. I am intrigued to learn more about her.

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    1. She was quite a character. It would have been wonderful to have met her in person.

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  3. Wow - you don't often see so many cacti together in such close confines. The glimpses of the garden look amazing

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    1. It's a very diverse garden, Matt - there's a lotus pond, an abalone-lined pool (which I'd forgotten until I saw Denise's post at AGO), a fern garden, huge trees, topiaries, etc. It's definitely a destination garden.

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  4. I've read so much about this garden. Seeing it must have been a fabulous birthday treat.

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    1. It's definitely worth visiting if you have the time next time you're down this way, Alison. Reservations are required and it isn't open year-round so visits require advance planning. Visitors have to stick with the tour guide too, although I gather that members are permitted to guide themselves.

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    2. Yes, as a member you're allowed to roam free. I joined just for that purpose when I planned our 2013 visit. We did a guided tour in the morning (wife and kids included), and in the afternoon I went back and walked around on my own for 3 hours.

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    3. Thanks for corroborating the protocol, Gerhard. Getting a membership might be a good idea, especially as Denise commented that it doesn't cost much more than the entrance fee. I do get up that way 2-3 times a year on average.

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  5. Amazing - and how wonderful that so many of them are in bloom. Definitely no issues photographing reds in your post - those cactus flowers are practically glowing! I'm going to have to check out Denise's posts too. What a fantastic place - thanks for sharing!

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    1. My post barely touches on the garden's sights, Anna.

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  6. I've seen this garden (I think) on a tv programme, what a wonderful use of cacti, often they aren't used in a mass planting like this, it reminded me of the Phoenix botanic garden, which I loved when I visited several years ago.

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    1. She was a very innovative gardener, well ahead of her time.

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  7. Your friend got some great photos! Earlier today I was looking through mine, from our visit in 2009, (coincidence!) and they're all horrid. Bad lighting and an even cheaper camera than the one I use now. Luckily I think there may be another visit in my not too distant future...

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    1. The standard tour times for non-members fall at the worst possible times of day from a picture-taking perspective, late morning and early afternoon. Maybe you'll be lucky and get cloud cover on your next visit.

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  8. Absolutely inspirational. Please pass along all our thanks to your friend for allowing you to share her photos along with your memories of the visit!

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  9. A big thank you for posting this, Kris! We've just decided that for the front patio we will go ahead and use some of the prickly ones ;-) It's turning out to be the toughest spot on the property, it seems! So this is a great moodboard of ideas just now. Like Deb, please pass some thanks on to your friend too!

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    1. I hope you find cactus and succulents you like for the front garden, Amy. There's a lot to choose from but you do need to be careful as some are frost sensitive.

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