If You’re Heading to….Santa Barbara

  • 8th October 2013

A walk through Lotusland is not far away…..



The iconic Blue Garden in Madame Walksa's Lotusland.

The iconic Blue Garden in Madame Walska’s Lotusland.


Lotusland, close to Santa Barbara, was once home to Madame Ganna Walska, a renowned Polish opera-singer, who upon moving to California devoted more than 40 years to amassing the most unique collection of plants from all corners of the world.  In order to allow them the presentation they deserved, she commissioned the most innovative designers to help her with the more than 15 individual gardens within.


Spanish Moss adds silvery elegance to many trees.

Spanish Moss adds silvery elegance to many trees.



Lotusland is in the heart of a residential area, so reservations are required to visit.  Even if you cannot plan your trip for when the legendary lotus’ are in bloom in early summer, there are many many spectacular plants that are well worth a trip.





If you are not heading to the Santa Barbara area anytime soon, here are some of our favorite tips we discovered at Lotusland, that could even apply to a backyard (with a few fewer than 3,000 plants).


The Beauty of Spanish Moss:

Also called ‘Air Moss’ this air plant can hang from anything from trees to statues.  It takes all the substances it needs to survive straight from the air with specialized hairs called trichomes. Their beautiful silvery leaves are thin, elegant and threadlike.



Air Moss decorates a tree in Lotusland.

Air Moss decorates a tree in Lotusland.




Lion statue with a Spanish  Air Moss Mane.

A lion guarding the house gets a unique mane.



Nonconventional Arbors:


Veering away from the traditional (Grapes, Wisteria, or the climbing rose), two arbors at Lotusland celebrate the more atypical starting with Austalian Tea Tree and then citrus.


The Australian Tea Tree Arbor at Lotusland.

The Australian Tea Tree Arbor at Lotusland.



Australian Tea Tree works beautifully because it can be easily trained into many differing formations.  Young plants can be planted very close together and lower growth easily pruned away.  It does best in full sun to partial shade.  Once established it is both drought tolerant and salt tolerant.  It’s weeping branches and shaggy trunk offer both texture and personality to the garden.



The citrus arbor at Lotusland.

The citrus arbor at Lotusland.




Citrus trees can work beautifully in an arbor because they are medium to small trees and can also be trained.  Beyond providing an abundant supply of succulent fruit they add the most beautiful pop of color.  Citrus trees require frost-free climates with rich and loamy soil, full sun and regular water.



Hang an Orchid Cactus in Dappled Shade:



Orchid Cactus hanging in the shade at Lotusland.

An Orchid Cactus hanging in the shade at Lotusland.



The Orchid Cactus is native to the tropical forests of Mexico and Central America.



Orchid Cactus Blossom up close.




They make beautiful hanging baskets especially from other trees and many varieties flower often throughout the year.


Orchid Cactus at Lotusland.



They like filtered sunlight with heavy morning sun that is bright but not as strong as afternoon sun.  The Orchid Cactus is an Epiphyte, meaning they can grown on other plants directly.



In Part Two we will delve right into Madame Walksa’s Blue Garden….



Ganna Walksa






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