Monday, July 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Lotusland – the gardens that outlasted her lovers

By
From page D4 | January 27, 2013 |

Late last spring, my husband and I toured a botanical garden located east of Santa Barbara in the Montecito foothills. Since this 37-acre estate is unlike any other botanical landscape, we often found ourselves lagging behind the docent-led tour in an attempt to absorb the setting’s serenity and the scale of the behemoth trees from blue atlas cedars (Cedrus atlantica) to 100-year-old Chilean wine palms (Jubaea chilensis).

This private estate of Madame Ganna Walska was gifted to a nonprofit foundation upon her death in 1985, opening to the public in 1993. Intrigued, I wanted to know more about this property tucked away in an exclusive residential neighborhood – and about the woman whose marriages to wealthy men allowed her to indulge her whimsical passion for exotic plants, many of which are now extinct in their native habitat. Here’s a snippet of what I discovered about these captivating grounds worthy of a visit.

Who was Madame Ganna Walska?

Polish-born Hanna Puacz was only 9 when her mother died and an adolescent when sent by her father to St. Petersburg, Russia, to live with an aunt and uncle, a renown painter educated in Paris and Warsaw. In 1907, the teenager eloped with a Russian count, the first of six husbands who included a New York psychiatrist, an International Harvester Company heir and a yoga guru. By 1918, Hanna rejected her strict Catholic upbringing for singing lessons, changed her name to Madame Ganna Walska (Walska, because she loved the waltz), made her concert debut alongside tenor Enrico Caruso, and launched her opera career with ballerina Anna Pavlova. Upon her 1928 arrival in America for her third concert tour, she also made headlines when U.S. Customs valued her traveling wardrobe and jewelry at $2.5 million.

In 1940, Walska met Theos Bernard, a lecturer at a yoga demonstration in New York. He convinced her not only to purchase property in California for a retreat center that they named Tibetland but also to marry him. Upon the dissolution of this sixth and final marriage,  Walska, a student of Eastern religions, renamed her property Lotusland for the sacred Indian flowers (Papilionaceae) blooming in her pond.

Walska was a paradoxical figure, suffering from paralyzing stage fright in the early years of her singing career, yet escaping France in 1940 aboard the last passenger ship before German occupation and holding benefit tours on the estate grounds from 1943 through 1967. She dabbled in mysticism, yet disliked machinery, all the while devoting 43 of her 97 years to collecting rare, exotic plants and even auctioned off her remaining jewels to finance the transformation of an abandoned grain field into a Cycad Garden that opened to the public in 1979. By combining her penchant for plants with the wealth accumulated through multiple marriages, Walska’s landscaped legacy is a plant lover’s dream.

Overview of the grounds

Today, Lotusland’s 37 acres operate as a public garden. Fountains and statuary adorn the grounds; an array of mature cactus (Cactaceae) compliment the 1920 Mediterranean style architecture of the main house. The Wall Street Journal stated that Walska’s idea of “mass plantings” is “now de rigeur for every landscape designer.”

Certainly, the more than 18 theme-based settings Walska designed with her unlimited resources are unrivaled. Lotusland is home to more than 3,000 different plants, including 208 different plant families and 3,286 distinct taxa, including 12 families of ferns (Phylum Pteridophyta) and 22 families of succulents other than aloe (Asphodelacae) and euphorbias (Euphorbiaceae). In 1993, her Cycad (Cycas) collection ranked second in the world with more than 200 species.

Topiary animals from Los Angeles’ Osaki Plant Zoo are planted around a horticultural clock designed by head gardener/landscape architect Ralph Stevens that features custom clock works. The newest addition of more than 500 cacti planted from seed in the 1920s by Merritt Dunlap was relocated from Fallbrook in 2001 and is grouped by country of origin along with 300 tons of basalt columns and boulders.

On Walska’s staff was Frank Fuijii, skilled in Japanese gardening, whose father helped design the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park in 1904. Today Lotusland’s horticultural philosophy encourages the attraction of beneficial insects and use of nontoxic pest management techniques.

Two-hour docent-guided tours are available mid-February to mid-November. Booking your reservations in advance is suggested. Further information is available at www.lotusland.org or by calling 800-969-9990 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Launa Herrmann is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

Launa Herrmann

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Rodriguez student collects, stuffs backpacks for others

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
30 years ago, Art Koch died keeping the city safe

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
Weather for Monday, July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Artistic ingenuity unhinged at Contraptor’s Road Rally

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Rockville Trail hike offered

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

National Alliance on Mental Illness meeting Monday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Summertime Fill the Barrel Food Drive ends Thursday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Live music at Solano Town Center mall

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
County fair opens Wednesday in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Food preservation class at library

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Canines graduate from CHP training academy

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

GV Cellars to host Food Bank fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Suisun police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Renowned cardiovascular surgeon comes to NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

Business workshop addresses marketing

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

 
Fairfield gets new pizza shop

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 2 Comments | Gallery

.

US / World

Bills aim to bring family law into 21st century

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Family law bills proposed in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Man dies after lightning strikes 14 in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

California governor to meet with Mexican president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Study: Blue whales at risk of hitting ships

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting intensifies near MH17 disaster site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

.

Opinion

 
Arrogance of power evident

By Earl Heal | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon: July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
District needs peanut-free schools

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 6 Comments

.

Living

Today in History for July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Randall: Why a ‘liar’ loves to hear from readers

By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

 
My 33-year-old daughter blames me for all her problems

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Horoscopes for July 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
.

Entertainment

Comic-Con: ‘Avengers’ unleash ‘Ultron’ footage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TV team: Actor, detective role paired for 25 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Kingsley voices animated villain in ‘Boxtrolls’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Lucy’ tops ‘Hercules’ with $44M at box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con’s dark side: Harassment amid the fantasy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ cast tease trailer, bloopers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: 4 DC Comics brought to TV get event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Radcliffe goes undercover as Spidey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Ant-Man’ cast revealed: Lilly, Douglas, Rudd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Blacklist’ fans get black fedoras

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

‘The Vampire Diaries’ takes bite out of Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Batman v Superman’ stare-down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Godzilla sequel announced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

.

Sports

McGloin buried on Raiders depth chart again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants lose in Peavy’s debut, swept by Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lawrence Okoye preparing for the NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
It’s ‘Jeff Gordon Day’ at Indy for record 5th time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Byron Scott says he will be LA Lakers’ new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaso has 3 RBIs as A’s beat Rangers 9-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Horsey wins Russian Open in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tim Clark rallies to win Canadian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Spain sweeps to victory in International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Langer wins Senior British Open by record 13 shots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Mudcats take pair from Pro Player Baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline HOF class

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali wins Tour de France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
LeBron deep-sixes number; will be No. 23 with Cavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Terry

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7