Munch and Learn Recap: Famous Gardens, Including Lotusland

In July, Munch and Learn talks will focus on succulents, in conjunction with the Some Like it Hot succulent exhibition in the Dixon cutting gardens. On July 8, Suzy Askew, the Dixon’s Garden Education and Volunteer Coordinator, did a talk on Lotusland, the former property of Ganna Walzka near Santa Barbara, CA.   

Suzy loves gardens and the stories they tell, and Ganna Walzka has quite a story. Ganna Walzka was born Hanna Puacz in Poland on June 26, 1887. Ganna wanted to be a famous opera singer, so the first thing she did was change her name. Ganna is the Russian form of Hanna and Walska is from her favorite dance, the Waltz.   

Ganna Walska was an opera singer, garden designer and serial bride. She was known for her voice, but not necessarily for the beauty of it, and she was married six times between the ages of 17 and 55. She was widowed twice. Four of her husbands were very wealthy, so she did quite well financially as a result. Her last husband, Theos Bernard, studied yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. He encouraged her to purchase 37 acres in Santa Barbara in 1941 to use as a retreat for Tibetan monks. However, World War II got in the way of this plan, and it was never used this way. They divorced in 1946, at which point she named the property Lotusland. The lotus flower is sacred in Indian and Tibetan religions, and there are several ponds on the property that contain varieties of the flower.   

The purchase of this property set Ganna Walska on the path to creating a magnificently creative garden. It was her project from the time she purchased the property until her death on March 2, 1984.  Lotusland is open to the public, but by appointment only, so if you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara call (805) 969-9990 to see this amazing garden.      

Posted by Chantal Drake at 11:59 AM
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