Lotusland Closes for Winter (but the Ants Stay)

LOTUSLAND LOVELY: We've said it before -- we're charmed by major venues that have seasons. We're referring to those places that close for part of the year for various reasons, often related to climate. It's a too-much-all-the-time world, right? (Now excuse us while we reach for our smelling salts and spats.) Lotusland, those expansive and elegant grounds located in the hilly bit of Montecito, has such a season, and as it preps for its last day of 2010 -- that would be Saturday, Nov. 13 -- we wanted to share a couple of flora-and-fauna-ish tidbits.

ANTS: Gargantuan ants. Gargantuan giant massive ants dotting the gardens. They arrived at Lotusland earlier this fall, and they'll still be there when the gardens open back up in February 2011. But here's the really intriguing thing: These massive sculptures, created by artist Susan P. Cochran, are for sale, and if you want one for your own colony, you can buy it. The queen ant, which is pictured above, is $475,000, but Lotusland says there are ants that start at $67,000. The queen, by the way, is 8,000 pounds. Talk about a statement in your yard. Imagine what visitors to your home will say? Ant as art, and conversation-starter.

DISCOUNT: On Thursday, Nov. 11 and Friday, Nov. 12, Lotusland will be offering 20-percent off, meaning you can get into the gardens for $28 vs. $35. Admission will be $35 on Saturday, Nov. 13. Then after that, the ants are left to play by themselves until visitors return in the late winter.

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