Madame Gana Walska’s Lotusland focus of handsome new coffee table book
“To experience Lotusland is to appreciate the idiosyncratic character of its creator. The publication of this long-awaited book is finally an opportunity to share this unique garden with a wider audience,” writes Marc Appleton, well-known local architect, in his foreword for “Lotusland: Eccentric Garden Paradise” (Rizzoli International Publications, $60).
“Variously labeled Eden, one of the 100 gardens you must visit before you 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.
“Madame Ganna 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 Walska’s penchant for the dramatic, the unexpected and the whimsical,” he writes.
“Home to more than 3,400 types of plants, including at least 35,000 individual 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 the aesthetic and censorial qualities are, Lotusland is also an important center for scientific research and conservation. A leader in the field of sustainable practices, it is a pioneering botanic garden that promotes and teaches organic gardening methods and the benefits of environmental stewardship.”
Released this month, the 288-page coffee table book is filled with 200 dramatic photographs by Lisa Romerein, a Los Angeles-based photographer and principal photographer for Diane Keaton’s “The House That Pinterest Built” and landscape designer Scott Shrader’s “The Art of Outdoor Living.”
A book release benefit and garden party is planned for May 21 beginning with a Champagne Garden Walk at 11:30 a.m. followed by a seated luncheon on the Great Lawn at Lotusland. Tickets are $350.
Anne Towbes and Jane Seymour are honorary co-chairs for the luncheon.
When asked how this book differs from similar ones about Lotusland, Mr. Appleton told the News-Press, “What makes this book different, I believe, is that there has never been a truly comprehensive publication on the gardens, despite their worldwide reputation. I think another thing that will give the book a long life are Lisa’s photos, which capture the special magic of the place. Along with what we hope is an informative text, hopefully a new audience will be introduced to Lotusland and be inspired to visit.”
Paul Mills, Lotusland’s director of conservation and curator of the living collection, added, “This visual journey captures the unique beauty of Lotusland and the vast diversity of the plant collections while touching on their global importance. Botanic gardens have always played an important role in the conservation of plants, the vital group of organisms that are crucial for our existence and that of the planet.
“With ever increasing human populations and the changing climate, botanic gardens, more than ever, are serving as life rafts for plants. ‘Lotusland’ will not only inspire its audience by highlighting the immense diversity that exists within the plant kingdom but will hopefully raise awareness of the need to protect this fragile resource at every opportunity available,” Mr. Mills said.
“The Lotusland book showcases our demonstrated success of sustainable horticulture which can be employed on a large scale and by the home gardener. This variation of regenerative farming greatly benefits the environment and human health and makes for a greener world.”