My Material Life

Ganna Walska’s Garden

Have you heard of the book, The Secret Language of Birthdays?  Just last week I was telling my friend Camille that this book said that people born on my birthday are all about the search for beauty.  I explained that this was the reason I wanted to celebrate the monumental birthday I had coming up on the weekend with a visit to Lotusland, an incredible garden in Montecito near Santa Barbara that I’d seen in magazines.  I suppose the biggest draw for me was this reflecting pool that is lined in abalone shells.  I’ve actually seen it photographed in moonlight which makes it look like not only a place of spectacular beauty, but of real magic as well.

The funny thing is, I just checked the information I copied from that book when I checked it out from the library years ago and it really doesn’t say anything about the search for beauty for people born on my birthday.  What it actually says is this,

Indeed life for those born on this day is a series of ongoing challenges which must each be met and conquered.

That’s not a lot to hang your hat on, is it?  Certainly not a fun theme for a birthday celebration.  Happily, I found the information I remembered in the Virgo-Libra cusp description.  You needn’t be on any zodiac-inspired search for beauty to appreciate Lotusland, but beauty is certainly what you’ll find there.

Lotusland is the creation of Madame Ganna Walska who was born in Poland in 1887.  She has a fantastic story that includes six husbands and something of a career as an opera singer.  She must have been quite a character.  I wish someone would make a movie about her life.  She published her memoirs, Always Room at the Top, in 1943.  What you see above is the main house on the estate.  Our tour docent said Madame Walska used this house for storage.  She was all about the gardens and preferred to live in the smaller house on the grounds that you can see below.  Our docent also told us that Madame would have her morning coffee and consult with her gardeners on the terrace.  I love those two yellow lions.

The path above is lined with glass from the Arrowhead Water Company.  Apparently, Madame Walska shipped in seven rail cars full of that glass.  You can learn more about Lotusland (including what’s happening in the garden at various times of the year) here.  We were so lucky to see the last lotus in bloom (pictured at the top of this post).  Ganna Walska lived well into her nineties; she died in 1984 after 43 years at Lotusland.

One comment

  1. Pingback: California Fool’s Gold — A Santa Barbara County Primer | Eric Brightwell

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