Cdnpearly's Blog

Pearl's musings

Lotusland February 9, 2011

Filed under: Books,Gardening,santa barbara,Travel,Uncategorized — cdnpearly @ 9:32 pm
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Montecito is home to a treasure…well actually many treasures, but specifically I refer to Lotusland.  Several weeks ago my aunt, uncle and I were treated to a private tour by a seasoned docent–Loretta.  Although I have lived in Santa Barbara for many years, I have never actually visited this magical place.  Now I find myself asking “why not????”

This property was lovingly owned by a series of families.  The website indicates that Ralph Kinton Stevens owned the land from 1882-1896 and used it for his personal home as well as for his commercial nursery.  Many of the large trees date back to Mr. Stevens.  Lotusland changed hands several times before finally belonging to Madame Ganna Walska–a famous opera singer.  Madame spent 43 years here, carefully planning and creating many spectacular and unique collections.

The succulents were especially breathtaking…

Here is the lotus pond that Lotusland was named for.  Unfortunately, the lotus are dormant in the winter.  However, we did enjoy some mallards paddling around the ponds.

These are REAL giant clam shells!  Nice fountain, eh?

I believe Loretta said this was a “pony tail” plant(?)  Very unusual, they worked very well in a cluster.

Madame arranged her gardens in various themes: by color, by type, by culture.  Additionally, the tile around her home, gardens and fountains is superb.  Many of the paths are lined with rough cut slabs of green glass.  We visited in the morning and the sunlight caught the glass most beautifully.

If you haven’t visited this gem, I can’t recommend it enough.  You must make reservations in advance however.  I have added Lotusland to my “things to do with out-of-town guests” list.  Thanks Loretta!  Your tour was lovely!

No new recipes this week.

I have been reading like a fiend though!  Almost completed The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel Faber.  It’s a tale of London England in the 1870’s, featuring a “lady of the night” who dreams of escaping her humble beginnings and striving beyond her reach.  While the author paints a fairly detailed account of her life and “work”, it’s easy to put that aside and cheer her on to higher social heights.

I finished Year of Wonder: A Novel of the Plague.  What a story!  It turns out to be based on actual events in a tiny village of Eyam in 1666.  I didn’t really know anything about the plague, except that it killed many people quickly.  This book painted quite a picture–sometimes icky–of the illness and how it was treated at the time.  Fascinating!

Finally, our garden has started to wake up–it’s spring time here in Santa Barbara.  I gathered a lovely bouquet this week…

Off to hear Michael Pollan tomorrow night!  Can’t wait!


One Response to “Lotusland”

  1. Emily Reed Says:

    Excellent post Pearly – I enjoyed it very much. I especially loved the glass used for the pathways too. What inspired you to read the Crimson Petal and a Year of Wonder? How was Mr. Pollan??? Em

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