The cycad collection of Ganna Walska Lotusland in Montecito, California was purchased with the proceeds from the sale of some jewelry – a million dollar’s worth, in fact. The species of cycad in sharp focus (more on this later) was previously featured on BPotD: Encephalartos horridus.
On the strong encouragement of David Tarrant, we fit a visit to Lotusland into our trip (having to spend an extra day in Santa Barbara to do so since they were already fully booked on the day we hoped to visit the garden – book well in advance!). If you ever visit Santa Barbara, a trip to Lotusland is worth every penny. I say this despite the fact that you can’t wander to your heart’s content; the only option available is the two hour guided tour. This is difficult for anyone who wants to admire the plants and gardens for more than a few minutes in a particular place, and absurdly so if you want to attempt to photograph it (speaking from experience!).
Bold gardens are usually the creations of bold gardeners (or bold personalities). To read more about Lotusland and Ganna Walska, here are two articles: Forget About Rubies – She Wanted Cycads from the Christian Science Monitor and What The Diva Wrought, published in the Wall Street Journal.
Lotusland was one of four gardens I visited on my vacation (along with Huntington BG, Santa Barbara BG and the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum). Other numbers from my trip: I visited 6 US National Parks, 6 State Parks, 2 US National Forests (that I photographed in – passed through a few more), 1 US National Seashore (Point Reyes) and 3 US National Monuments. I travelled over 10 000km (6000 miles); the southernmost point was Rodeo, New Mexico while easternmost was Albuquerque, NM.
In terms of photography, I pressed the shutter button on the camera nearly 2500 times (I’ll probably keep a thousand or so of these images). This number would have been higher if the weather had cooperated. In general, I was accompanied by cool weather with milky clouded skies, so photographs of landscapes were unspectacular. Those sorts of skies are usually great for flower photography – except there were few flowers thanks to the extremely dry winter in the southwest US. Anyway, I did the best I could with what I had available to me.
In preparation for the trip, I purchased a few lenses: a wide-angle lens (for landscape photographs), a quality telephoto lens and the one I used for today’s image: the Lensbaby 2.0.
Photography resource link: Flickr photographs tagged with “lensbaby” and “flower”, to give you an idea of what this lens does.