Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Ever been to Lotusland in Santa Barbara?  I hadn't even heard of it but was intrigued when I was reading that hidden in an upscale residential neighborhood was a private garden with 37 acres of thousands of plants from around the world.  And that a visit would require a reservation plus a $35 entrance fee for a guided tour that was offered only twice a day.  Really? 

Lotus Flower
         It was worth it.  But, I wouldn't bring the kids for this two hour guided tour if I were you.

In a nutshell, the owner of the property was Madame Ganna Walska who was a beauty from Poland,  married six times always increasing her net worth as she went along.  She discovered a love of plants and became a collector of rare plants from around the world never satisfied with just one or two of a species but amassing a bundle.  I counted more than 16 separate gardens throughout the property.

                                                                       So, let's go!

                                       One was never enough for Madame Walska.

                                   Five hanging baskets of this succulent on this tree alone.

Pathways all over the estate are lined with this blue-green glass that she had shipped in by the truckload.  It is leftover glass from the Arrowhead Spring Water bottling company.  If Madame Walska liked something she bought it in abundance.

When we were kids, my sisters and I had a badminton set (net and all) and this plant above reminded me of the shuttlecock. Agree?

                                       This beautiful orange cone is from the cycad family.

   More of the "if one bromeliad is good, a hundred are even better" school of thought.  This is just a smidgen of bromeliads.

My sister and I debated the above pic for a bit.  Don't you think all these blooming cacti look like a pack of Meerkats?  Or the periscope in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

   When you live in Arizona, a cacti garden isn't so exciting.  But good for Madame Walska for showcasing the whole lot of them.  Hopefully they came from Arizona....

 I would have liked to tour her home, but no such luck.  It is now the administrative offices for Lotusland.

                               A  pretty succulent sun dial smack dab in the middle of the grounds.

                                                  This was my favorite water feature.

                                                                     Loads of lemons

I can't imagine anyone ever used this shallow pool because getting in and out would be impossible with the abalone shells guarding the entire edge.  Squint your eyes and note the giant clam shell fountains.

Well, that's the tour.  Hope you enjoyed yourself.

                                                 We thought Lotusland was worth a visit.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


You know when you walk into a place, gasp, and think, this is perfection? Welcome to San Ysidro Ranch.  I was perfectly happy at the Four Seasons (I would have to be daft not to be) but had always wanted to see this place for myself.  It was seven minutes up the road from the Four Seasons Biltmore.

                                        Eucalyptus trees line the driveway leading to the property

You may know the history of San Ysidro Ranch--Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier stayed here as did Jack and Jackie Kennedy for their honeymoon. It is a gem of a hideaway.

The pretty reservation office with the nicest staff who didn't mind me roaming around with camera in hand.

This lobby is my idea of a perfect family room--wood floors, white walls, lots of pillows and comfy seating.  Which is why I am now thinking to paint most of my interior walls a soft white (goodbye Golden Gate, you've served me well).

Let's drive back to the guest cottages

Even the parking slips are enchanting

Climbing roses are in abundance

Star jasmine climb the posts and clematis covers the pergola

Another guest cottage

Hydrangeas galore

Herbs planted between the paving stones that lead us through an arbor

So much lavender and rosemary.  The fragrance, colors, texture work so beautifully together that when I returned home I planted a bunch around my pool.

This is the Stonehouse restaurant.  Very swanky dining on the property. 

Vegetable gardens for guest dining (you know, in the restaurants, not for munching away in the garden)

Hydrangeas along the stone steps 

I did grab the opportunity to tour the Laurel cottage. I didn't take any pics but it was what you would imagine.  Four poster bed, stone fireplace, wood floors, comfortable seating area, indoor and outdoor shower. The darling bellman told me everything in the minibar was gratis for guests (which seems only right given the nightly rates start at $600).

Time to leave.  But, I'm telling you, someday I'm going to splurge and stay here for a few nights. Oh, yes.