Bask in Santa Barbara’s botanical beauty on a visit to Lotusland, a stunning 37-acre Montecito estate once owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska. A well-known opera singer and socialite, she purchased the property in 1941 and spent the next 43 years transforming it into a unique horticultural nirvana now recognized as one of the world’s best gardens. As the Los Angeles Times describes, “Evidence of Walska’s art is everywhere—in surprising juxtapositions of form and playful shocks to our expectations. But Lotusland’s garden is not simply an eccentric fantasy, any more than Alice in Wonderland is just a children’s book. For Walska, plants were more than plants; they were colors to paint with, a family to nurture, characters to direct.”
You can experience Madame Walska’s vision firsthand as you tour Lotusland’s 25 gardens, each distinct in design while seamlessly transitioning to the next. Several of the gardens feature fanciful themes, including the Blue Garden, Theatre Garden and Japanese Garden. Among the enormous array of plants, you’ll spot ferns, aloes, lotuses, water lilies and bromeliads. Lotusland also boasts several extraordinary botanical collections, such as rare cycads, cacti, palms and euphorbias. Other must-sees include the classic topiary garden, horticultural clock and Neptune fountain, as well as the garden’s newest additions: a palmetum (palm collection) and insectary garden.
Lotusland Tours & Admission
Lotusland is a public garden operating in a private, residential neighborhood, so advance tour reservations are required to visit.
Docent-guided tours are available at 10 a.m and 1:30 p.m, Wednesday – Saturday, Feb. 16 – Nov. 15. Admission is $48 for adults and $24 for kids (age 3 – 17). Admission is free for children under two years old. Pets are not permitted except for guide and assistance dogs.
The two-hour tour includes both horticultural and historical information, along with time to visit the Garden Shop at the end. These regular tours are appropriate for children age 10 and over. Separate family tours are available for families with younger guests and are approximately 90 minutes long.
Make your tour reservation by calling 805-969-9990. Reservations are not confirmed until you have spoken with a visitor services representative, prepaid for the tour and received an email confirmation. Directions to the Lotusland Visitor Entrance will be sent to you, along with your tour confirmation, after you make your reservation.
Tips for Your Visit
The Visitor Entrance of Lotusland has no street address. Do not use a GPS or similar programs to navigate, as they will direct you to the wrong gate. Instead, use the directions included in your tour reservation.
Photography and videography (for personal use) are allowed and encouraged at Lotusland. However, tripods are not allowed on docent-led tours.
Picnicking is not permitted and food is not sold at Lotusland. Drinking fountains are located throughout the garden and bottled water is available for purchase in the Garden Shop.
Lotusland can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers on a slightly modified tour. If a member of your party uses a wheelchair or walker, please inform a Visitor Services staff member at the time you schedule your tour. If your party includes non-English speaking visitors, ask the staff about availability of foreign-language docents for your tour date.
Something is always in bloom at Lotusland, so it’s always a good time to visit. A major draw of the garden is its dramatic design, which can be viewed year-round. Lotuses are usually in bloom during July and August, and you can find more garden highlights by month here.