Nestled in an upscale residential community in Montecito, Lotusland is a 37-acre nonprofit botanical nirvana filled with over 950 species of exotic plants arranged in nearly 20 gardens. It’s also the historic estate of the late Polish opera singer and socialite Madame Ganna Walska, who purchased the Southern California property in 1941 and gifted it to the Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation when she died in 1984.
Bronze crane statues and a small Shinto shrine surrounded by a wisteria arbor sit in the Japanese garden. Three tiers of benches made of sandstone circle the theater garden, which is dotted with Madame Walska’s French collection of antique stone figures, called “grotesques.” Lotusland is a natural treasure and also a resource to educate about a subject that’s core to the garden’s mission: plant conservation.
Open to the public since 1993, the Lotusland staff has gardened sustainably and organically for the past 20 years, which might make it the only such garden in the country that can boast such a claim. Because of its green practices, 85 species of birds take refuge either year-round or for extended visits in the gardens—which planted the seed for Lotusland’s current art exhibit, “FLOCK: Birds on the Brink” running through May 23. …
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