One afternoon we had the privilege of being given a private tour of Lotusland by Chris, one of Diane's friends. Lotusland is a public garden and local landmark that used to belong to Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite. She purchased the estate in 1941 and spent the next 43 years creating Lotusland. She is said to have designed herself the spectacular collections of exotic plants throughout the 37-acre property, spending time daily in the company of plants. Her style was bold and unusual and the result is dramatically beautiful; just as she intended. After her death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit botanical garden and opened to the public in 1993.
The property is divided into several different gardens that Chris expertly walked us through while offering helpful and interesting commentaries. How I wish I had thought of bringing a notebook with me to jot down some of the facts and the name of the various plants I photographed! *sigh* I guess you'll just have to admire most of them for their sheer beauty.
A lovely walkway made with lemon trees. Oh the aroma as we walked underneath it!
It was mighty hard not to reach over and grab one of those babies!
A beautiful mosaic made of pebbles.
One of my favorite parts of the entire property was the Cactus Garden. The collection of cacti was donated to Lotusland by Merritt Dunlap, a longtime friend of Madame Walska. He began his collection in 1929 and grew approximately 40 percent of the plants from seed. Towards the end of his life he arranged for and supervised the transfer of his precious collection to Lotusland in 1999 - no small task when you look at all those spiky babys!
More than 300 species of cacti are found on three-quarters of an acre, grouped by their country of origin. An impressive sight indeed, especially since many were in bloom at the time of our visit.
These guys were covered with white fur to keep them warm on cold desert nights!
The blossoms were as different as there were cacti!
I thought these little guys looked like pickles. hehe
A blue cactus...
... and its unusual blossoms.
Chris showing Don the fruit of one cactus that she had just picked off the ground. We then got to have a taste of it. (Yay!) It was reminiscent of kiwi.
I couldn't help but be awestruck by their sheer variety and fascinating looks!
As we walked we kept noticing little critters scurrying away through the rocks.
I'd have loved to get a bite of these! ;-)
OK... 'nuff of those cacti creatures!
The sculpted garden: the most 'conventional' part of Lotusland.
The first of the roses to bloom. Yep, they are green!
A Chilean Vine Palm
Another cactus in bloom in a different part of Lotusland.
Unfortunately the Lotus Pond was still dormant.
The flower of an aloe plant.
More aloe plants in bloom.
And here's an aloe plant that was nearly as tall as a palm tree!
Black bamboo as we approached the Japanese Garden.
A weeping bamboo
Someone always makes sure that there is an offering of flowers at the statue.
Another particularly impressive section of the property was the Cycad Garden. On Lotusland's website you can read that "it is thought to be the most complete in any American public garden, with over 900 specimens, nine of the eleven living genera and more than half of the known species represented."
The term cycad refers to "a group of unusual cone-bearing plants that were common during the time of the dinosaurs." Most species are endangered and some are extinct in the wild.
What a blessing to be given an opportunity to admire some of our earth's wonders brought from all over the world together in this one place!