photographs by Lisa Romerein
Variously labeled Eden, one of the 100 gardens you must visit before your die, and among the 10 best botanical gardens in the world, Madame Ganna Walska’s Lotusland is magic mixed with paradise in the hills of Montecito, California. Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, purchased the estate in 1941 and spent 43 years creating Lotusland. The collections of exotic plants on the 37-acre property are an expression of her penchant for the dramatic, the unexpected, and the whimsical. Home to more than 3,400 types of plants, including at least 35,000 specimens, it is recognized not just for the diversity of its collections, but for the extraordinary design sensibility informing the many one-of-a-kind individual gardens that comprise the whole. As pleasing as its aesthetic and sensorial qualities are, Lotusland is also an important center for scientific research and conservation. A leader in the field of sustainable practices, it is the first botanical garden in the United States to become entirely organic.