Cycad Collection in Lotusland

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.

Cycad Collection in Lotusland

9 responses to “Cycad Collection in Lotusland”

  1. WLA

    Daniel – you know I’ll approve of any cycad photos you post and its interesting to see the lensbaby in action. Lotusland looks interesting; sounds like they have some very unusual species.

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Very unusual species – and some of the highlights of the garden include mass plantings of same. I’ve a photo of an Agave border planting for another day. And I really liked the mass planting of ponytail palm (Beaucarnea).

  3. Susan D

    Whoa, cool picture!!

  4. Maurice Grout

    Hello Daniel, Your Cycad photo hurt my eyes. Please put the lensbaby where it belongs, in the garbage. It is an insult to the usual high standard of photos on BPOD.

  5. Daniel Mosquin

    For a counterperspective to above: History of the Camera from Wikipedia, including a photograph of a 19th century camera complete with bellows for focusing (the same principle used in the Lensbaby).

  6. Petra

    lotus land is definitely an essential botanical highlight of santa barbara! ive been about 6-7 times now and i enjoy and appreciate it even more with each visit. hopefully your guide told you the story about how they acquired the koi fish at lotus land..

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Petra – they most certainly did. Should we leave it as a mystery for others?

  8. Sally

    Hi, Daniel– catching up with what you’ve been doing for the last year or so. What, only 4 cycad posts?
    Madame is a woman after my own heart– I’d take cycads (and several other groups) over gems any day! Love the Encephalartos, but sure wouldn’t want to have to be the one pruning it!
    Thanks for a great post.

  9. Eric in SF

    Daniel – came across this doing research on Lotusland.
    I wanted to let you and everyone else know that if you join as a member you get two free admission passes *plus* the wonderful ability to schedule several self-guided, open-ended tours of Lotusland. They reserve half of each day’s entry slots of members. Finally, the gardens are closed to the public in the winter months but open to members. Some of the best floral displays (Aloes!) are in the winter months.

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