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Madame Ganna Walska

Articles: Madame Ganna Walska

Madame Ganna Walska posing in front of her home’s signature landscape. Photo: courtesy of Ganna Walska Lotusland

In her autobiography titled Always Room at the Top, Madame Ganna Walska declared, “I have a particular aversion to following the multitude in styles of any kind.” She published the work that cataloged her history, accomplishments on the stage, philosophy, and emotions in 1943 just before settling in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, she never continued that written narrative and her remaining life is subject to much conjecture. What persists as silent testimony to that imaginative and productive time from the early 1940s until her death in 1984 is the exotic and wonderful garden that she named Lotusland.

In her construction of a garden that she hoped “to develop to its maximum capacity into the most outstanding center of horticultural significance and of educational use,” Madame Walska consulted with the best designers that could be found. She tailored her gardens to suit her fancy against their advice at times, too. The cactuses in front of the house are but one example. In the early 1940s, Madame...

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