April 2004 and October 2005.
You can visit the garden by appointment only and only by docent led tours. Once you’ve done it you can understand why they want to keep control of the crowds, and also they’ve got land use issues regarding traffic, noise etc. with the hoity-toity neighborhood.
The place is 37 fully planted acres and every foot in all 37 acres is both majestic and tender.
This is the welcome center and surprise, they’ve got a Gift Shop…
Amazingly we got the same guide for our return trip. What a charmer. We loved her. She spoke in a strong Eastern European accented English using quite precise and hilariously colloquial expressions.
She kept us on the move ‘chop chop let’s go, we won’t make the two hours if we don’t get on the stick’ and was as entertaining and informed as you could hope for in a docent tour.
A map from the Lotusland website showing the names of the different areas.
I don’t even have shots of all of them although we did go through the whole property. The guide told us that one of her previous guests used a pedometer and had announced that the tour was a two mile walk. So it’s long, but not That long.
It wasn’t easy though to listen to the talk, compose a shot and keep up all at the same time, which happens in tours and I accept this without complaint. Except now. I’m kind’a complaining.
The Japanese garden.
The technical details of each space is available in good detail on the website.
We should have an introduction to Madame Ganna Walska now because this entire extravaganza is all about her. Her oversized life, her passion, her vision, and the money she got from her six ex-husbands.
A rare type of what? water lily? lotus? Madame Ganna Walska’s taste required that whatever it was it had to be the biggest or the smallest or the oldest or the most and always always it had to be rare.
She bought this property during her marriage to her sixth husband intending it to be a retreat for Tibetan monks but it seems she got so caught up in creating the gardens she rather lost interest in the monks.
There is quite a bit of discussion during the tour about old-world new-world plantings and that much of what is here is from very ancient stock.
A problem. Our tour started at 1:30 so we were out there in the worst light of the day for photos. And still it was grand so you can see how fabulous it must have been, to forgive the bad light.
From the website:
“On the south side of the fruit orchard is a triple row of olive trees dating from the 1880’s when Kinton Stevens imported the trees from Spain and Italy for his nursery. The rows of olives form a wide allee ending at a wall fountain with a figure of a hippocampus, a mythological horse/sea monster.”
The guide said they had 15 full time gardeners and we just couldn’t believe it. Nancy says Michael Jackson has 100 gardners just to tend his place up here. But then the guide allowed as they had 250 volunteers, so that helps.
The next few pictures are from around the more formal gardens of the lawn area.
I want a lemon tree arbor but I Need a Moorish bubble fountain.
Our group. The two couples were, amazingly, all from one of Nancy’s old neighborhoods so they immediately knew about each other’s character. They were perfect tour companions, inquisitive, soft spoken and courteous. We are sitting on the grass steps that look down upon a fabulous stage where they occasionally hold performances.
Another wonderful outing to Lotusland for me and the Nancys and a first time visit for Sharon and Sandy. We had a private docent tour and two docents in training. I took somewhere between a gabillion and a jillion pictures.
Just two follow because when I get home I’m going to update my previous chapter on Lotusland and use the stronger pictures and some contributions for the others too. We were all going around slack-jawed and snap-happy.
The farewell path leading back to the cars. We didn’t go to the cars of course because I’m with Nancy and there are shopping opportunities(!) which we followed with a late lunch-early dinner on Santa Claus Lane and we’re home by 7:30. A two hour tour and I’ll no doubt spend six hours on this story! Fun all over again!!