Matt Kettmann

Few places on the planet offer as much natural magic and biodiverse beauty as Lotusland, the 37-acre Montecito estate on Sycamore Canyon Road that opera legend Madame Ganna Walska’s transformed into a legendary garden. While the late Madame’s cycad and cactus collections, the clamshell-lined pools, the traditional topiary beasts, and the lantern-laden Japanese garden will mesmerize in any season, now is the time to witness the garden’s namesake. And what a wonderful time it is.

The lotus, or Nelumbo nucifera, is a water-sitting plant that bursts into blooms of pink and white from July to September every year. Not to be confused with the equally colorful water-lily, whose flowers cling to leaves just above the waterline, the lotus throws its buds skyward, reaching nearly three feet in height at their peak. Though the budding and flowering are certainly the celebrated phases, the seed pod itself-an alien-like saucer filled with yellowish green seeds-is worth considerable beholding.

There’s no wonder that the flower, which grows in the wild from Central to Southeast Asia, is intertwined in the creation stories of both Hinduism and Buddhism, which proclaims that the Buddha himself was spawned from the lotus. (There is also an American lotus that grows from southern Canada to the Caribbean and eastward to central Texas.) And at Lotusland, where the flowers sit in the shade of tremendous trees and in pools next to a bathhouse designed by famed architect George Washington Smith, bearing witness to these mythical plants are just a small part of the tour package.

But if you want to see the lotus bloom this year, you’d better act fast, because while some random openings occur for lucky callers, reservations for Lotusland tours usually need to be booked far in advance. But if you don’t get in this year, remember to prepare for next.

Call 969-9990 or see for more info.


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