Santa Barbara's Lotusland

The lush grounds debut with special events, plenty of blooms.

SUMMONING SPRINGTIME: The longing for the bloom-iest time of year typically begins around Valentine's Day, when roses and dahlias and lilies fill the floral sections of stores and our own shrubs and trees look as though they're considering undertaking the whole budding-early thing (especially when February temperatures have been warm). Poets would say that hearts are quickening or thumping or longing around this time, but those less poetical among us would simply say we like when it is lighter later and the natural world is going to town with bloomy beauty. One of the bellwethers of springtime, at least on the West Coast, is the re-opening of places that have been closed for the winter. Ganna Walska Lotusland, "a public garden in a private, residential neighborhood," is one such tree-filled spot. It takes a break in the wintertime from regular tours, shuttering from the middle of November to the middle of February. Which means the stroll-and-sniff-and-be-under-the-sky time is nigh for the Santa Barbara-based historic plot, which fills the former estate of early 20th-century singer Ganna Walska, to re-debut for the season. And so it did on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

TOURS, TALKS, MORE: While the fresh-air walk-arounds in the 37-acre garden are popular, there are talks on birds and plants and more throughout the warm-weather season. As to the foliage and flora strollers admire? There are thousands of different leafy, bud-pretty things at Lotusland, with an aloe garden, a cycad garden, a bevy of bromeliads, and a blue garden adding vibrant visuals (let us also swoon a bit over the topiary, the water garden, and the succulents). Tour reservations? You can make those. Special events? There's a calendar for that. Having that longing for springtime and blossoms and birds and soft sunshine finally fulfilled with a grand garden's re-opening? Oh so nice. When nature-filled outdoor places start to open the proverbial doors, that's almost a good a sign that spring is due as a new nest in the oak tree outside or camellias popping as they so nicely do come this time of year.

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