Wild designs

Wild designs

Lotusland offers a chance to see garden center favorites in their natural habitat.

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April 9, 2022

During our trip up the California coast last week, we took a break from checking out the newest plants on the market to tour Lotusland, where some of the oldest specimens date back to the 1800s. The 37-acre botanical garden boasts more than 3,000 different plants from all over the world. Founder Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer, fashionista and socialite, spent decades growing the property into the gorgeous estate you can find today in Montecito.

Reservations for the property are highly recommended since only 20,000 visitors are allowed each year, but thanks to Lotusland board member and founder of Por La Loma Nursery Ron Caird, we were able to get a sneak peek. Grown entirely without fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, it's truly a sight to see. We were even lucky enough to see some of today's hottest houseplants in their natural habitat. Take a tour through the gorgeous grounds here in our photos, but be sure to stop by if you ever get the chance to see it all for yourself! 

Staghorn ferns are popular houseplants and living wall plantings, but they can grow to amazing sizes outdoors. Here you can really see how they got their name with the prominent antler shape. Native to Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia, these can get as large as 3 feet across.

In the Topiary Garden, bird of paradise not only looks like a bird in flight, it's attractive to pollinators, especially birds that come for the sweet nectar.

Monstera deliciosa can grow to 60 feet or more into the tree canopies of the Tropical Garden. The plant's distinctive holes and splits let sun and rain fall through to lower levels of the garden (and the vine).

The Cyad Garden was the last Walska created. With more than 450 specimens, it's one of the most extensive collections of these ancient plants in the U.S. Gardeners take special care of five species in the collection that are believed to be extinct in the wild, according to the garden's website. 

The popular pony tail palm you see in pots grows to its full potential height at Lotusland. Not a true palm, this low-maintenance houseplant can grow up to 30 feet tall.