Matt Kettmann

Lotus Festivals

Where to See the Exotic Flower in S.B.

According to a recent article in the Eastsider, a newsletter from the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, not only have the lotuses disappeared from the lake in the park, but the wonderful annual festival that was mounted to honor them may also be in jeopardy. Throngs of people used to make their way to the park, not only during the festival but all summer long, to enjoy the majestic and exotic lotus flowers. While plans are in the works to renovate the park and lake complex, restoring the lotuses to their former splendor, it may be several years before they are on view there again.

Lotuses are native to both Asia and the North American continent and have truly stunning flowers. Many are a full foot in diameter and rise above the pond or lake several feet. Large petals, in shades of pink, white, or yellow, surround a unique seed pod that looks like an upended shower head. The flowers are surrounded by large, flat leaves reminiscent of a juggler spinning a plate on a stick. Since they require a relatively large space to grow, they are not usually found in public or even private gardens.

In Santa Barbara, we are blessed with two venues where lotuses can be enjoyed. Naturally, Lotusland is one of them. To celebrate their beauty, LotusFest is held annually when they are in full bloom. This year it will be on July 11 from 2-5 p.m. Guests can enjoy wine tasting with a great lineup of area vintners, mellow jazz, and the fine ambience of Lotusland while gazing into the sacred flowers. Call 969-9990 for reservations or more information.

Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria also has a display pond featuring lotuses. This year, they will again repeat their open house on August 15 to honor the lotuses and other things aquatic. Listen to water gardening expert Dean Cornell as he explains the wonders and delights of aquatic plants and pond keeping. Call the nursery for details at 684-6001. Take advantage of one or both of these unique opportunities to gaze on these ancient and honored flowers.

Virginia Hayes, curator of Ganna Walska Lotusland, will answer your gardening questions. Address them to Gardens, The Independent, 122 W. Figueroa St., S.B., CA 93101. Send email to

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