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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lotusland: Ganna Walska, Patron of the Garden Arts

Madame Ganna Walska
I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California.

 Madame Ganna Walska was an eccentric polish opera starlet with a penchant for the extraordinary: she was fond of taking morning swims in the nude, investigating the occult and the bizarre and amassing exotic plants.

"She married six times, wrote her autobiography, Always Room at the Top, and continued to study both vocal music and spiritual teachings in search of creative fulfillment and personal enlightenment. After residing in Paris and New York, Madame Walska turned her sights toward California’s sunny climate and free-thinking residents." 

Needless to say she sounds like an awesome old bird and I wish I could have attended one of her famed seance soirees back in the day. She founded the vast estate now-known as "Lotusland" in 1941 and used the grounds, her money and her connections to create a lush fantasy land of gardens.

"She wanted the best, the biggest, and the most unusual plants available and was often willing to pay any price to get them. So determined was she to finish the work she had begun that in the 1970s she auctioned off some of her jewelry in order to finance her final creation—the cycad garden." 

The grounds feature 17 themed gardens containing over 3,000 plants.

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