Lotusland

Up Highway 1, through the resplendent hills of California’s Central Coast, nestled in a private, residential neighborhood, we arrive at the gates of the Eden-like gardens named Lotusland.

Named after Nelumbo nucifera (the sacred lotus flower) with thirty-seven acres of majestic nature, it was the perfect, immersive palace of greenery for our inaugural capsule shoot. Featuring over three thousand remarkable plants including rare cycads, marvelous cacti & euphorbias, we found ourselves dazzled among a shape-shifting tableau of playful forms, jolts of color and exquisite water features.

This horticultural wonder was shaped over four decades by Madame Ganna Walska, a free-spirited, cosmopolitan opera singer whose life was as vibrant - if not more so - than the exotic grounds she presided over. While living in New York City in the early 1940s, she had begun yoga lessons with Theos Bernard, the self-described “first white lama,” because of his legendary visit as a Westerner to Tibet. Soon after, they married and conceived of Tibetland as a research center and retreat for Buddhist monks just outside Santa Barbara, because of the lush and splendorous beauty of the landscape. Sadly, the dream dissolved when Bernard and Walska divorced, but undeterred, she dedicated the rest of her life to transforming the estate into a series of rare gardens. Describing her own philosophy and mission in life, an enlightened Walska remarked: “I’m the enemy of the average,” And Lotusland was born.

With the comforting embrace of the Santa Ynez Mountains, dappled circles of silky light filtered through the gently swaying palm trees above, and the serene gaze of the Buddha statue in the Japanese Garden keeping watch over us, this was truly an exceptional place to begin our own journey.