The longtime curator of the Living Collection at Lotusland and widely respected Santa Barbara Independent gardening columnist Virginia Hayes died of natural causes on February 21. She retired her column in 2014 and stepped down as curator in 2017 after a 25-year career at Lotusland. Hayes was an expert in exotic plants like cycads and lotuses, but her gift was her appreciation of the backyard garden and gardener. During her tenure, she trained each of Lotusland’s docents, telling them to “Let the garden speak for itself” while also working to “protect the integrity of the gardens, the quality of the horticulture, and the historical perspective” of Lotusland’s founder, Ganna Walska. Hayes was 67.