Courtesy of the Lotusland Foundation
Encouraged by her soon to be sixth husband, Theos Bernard, Ganna Walska purchased an estate in Montecito, California in 1941 and here she set about indulging in her newly found great passion - horticulture. The estate had belonged to Kinton Stevens who already had established an exotic plant nursery which gave her a head start in her plans for the gardens. Ganna replaced her passion for opera with a passion for developing the 37 acre botanical garden, composed of smaller specialty gardens designed to take one by surprise while successively being walking through. She sold her jewellery to finance one of those smaller specialty gardens - the Cyclad garden. Initially she named the property “Tibetland” but after her divorce in 1946 from her sixth husband, known affectionately as the “White Lama”, she renamed it “Lotusland”. Over the next four decades she commissioned and created one of the most original and outstanding gardens of the world. These included: a Water Garden where the main pond was planted with a sea of blossoming lotus; Cactus and Succulent Gardens, a Japanese Garden; a Theatre Garden decorated with statues from her chateau in France; and an Aloe Garden. The gardens are full of beauty and the exotic, like Ganna herself, and exude a great sense of tranquility and of nature at peace with itself.
Following her death in 1984 the Ganna Walska Foundation, which she had conceived in 1958, assumed the ownership of this extraordinary property. Under their supervision the gardens have continued to flourish and the numerous visitors each year are able to marvel at and to enjoy Ganna Walska’s dream of a garden.
According to her will Ganna Walska had “hopefully dreamt that if given all the opportunities having considerable finances at my disposal I might fulfil my work to develop Lotusland to its maximum capacity into the most outstanding centre of horticultural significance and of educational use”.