May 25, 2024
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Ganna Walska Lotusland gets $1M gift from anonymous donor


Ganna Walska Lotusland in Santa Barbara said it has received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to create an endowment fund for its historic topiary garden.

Lotusland is one of the top 25 most-visited museums and attractions in the Tri-Counties, with about 15,000 annual visitors, according to Business Times research.

According to a statement from the organization, Lotusland’s original topiary garden was created by Ralph Stevens and Madame Ganna Walska from 1955 through 1957, and includes two types of specialized gardens: a 25-foot working floral clock and trained topiaries. At the time, Lotusland’s floral clock was the largest in the world. It features a face with each hour signified by a copper zodiac sign set in plantings of different succulents and colored stones, the organization said. Walska surrounded the clock with numerous large topiaries, already clipped as fanciful animals and geometric forms, that she had acquired from Osaki Plant Zoo in Los Angeles.

In 2000, the aging topiary garden was renovated in honor of Carol Valentine, Lotusland’s board president at the time.

The endowment gift will fund the topiary garden’s maintenance in to perpetuity, Lotusland said. “We are deeply grateful for this incredibly generous gift from one individual, who is committed to the preservation of Lotusland and who believes in the vital importance of building endowment to ensure that Lotusland is always here for future generations,” Larry Durham, president of the Lotusland’s board of trustees, said in a statement.

Lotusland Executive Director Gwen Stauffer said that the organization has a relatively small endowment and plans to guarantee the survival of the attraction by endowing one garden at a time.