Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ganna Walska Lotusland 3

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ALOE GARDEN

The Aloe Garden was started in the 1950s and today features almost 200 different aloe species, including many tree aloes which have reached impressive heights. However, the first thing I noticed when entering the Aloe Garden was a wall of black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra). You don’t often see bamboo planted right next to aloes, but at Lotusland anything goes.

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Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) forming the border between the Japanese Garden and the Aloe Garden

Some people might think that a garden dedicated to a single genus is boring. Not so here. The genus Aloe offers far more diversity than most plant aficionados realize, and the Aloe Garden at Lotusland presents a stunning cross-section. Just take a look at the photos in this post, and you will agree!

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Aloe plicatilis

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Aloe plicatilis branches; this is the largest and gnarliest Aloe plicatilis I’ve ever seen!

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Aloe cryptopoda

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Aloe dichotoma

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Aloe thraskii

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Aloe thraskii

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Tree aloes near the abalone-shell pond

Aside from the plants, the most distinguishing feature of the Aloe Garden is the pond. Originally built as a swimming pool by the property’s second owners, the Gavit family (1915 – 1939), it was transformed by Madame Walska in 1958. She had the perimeter of the pool lined with abalone shells and the interior painted a very pale blue so it would glow in the moonlight. The pièce de resistance is a cascading fountain made of giant clam shells.

Genius or kitsch? Everybody seems to have a different opinion. But let’s not forget that Ganna Walska built Lotusland for herself, and she didn’t set out to please anybody but herself. She knew exactly what she wanted and she never wavered from her chosen path.

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Abalone-shell pond in Aloe Garden

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Abalone-shell pond

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Abalone-shell pond

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Abalone-shell pond

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Cascading fountain of giant clam shells

If the abalone pond offends your sense of aesthetics, simply turn away and enjoy the magnificent plants in the Aloe Garden. There is so much to see that very soon you will have forgotten all about it.

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Blooming aloes at the base of two palm trees

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Aloe chabaudii

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Aloe chabaudii

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Aloe cameronii

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Aloe dorotheae

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Aloe macrocarpa

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Aloe macrocarpa

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Aloe macrocarpa

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Aloe distans

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Aloe jungle

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Aloe marlothii

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Tree aloes

The last two photos in this post show a wider view of the Aloe Garden. They were taken during my solo visit in the afternoon. The sun had come out and the lighting was so contrasty that it was difficult to take good photos. These are not the most beautiful pictures of the Aloe Garden, but they give you a good idea of how jam-packed it is with mature plants.

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Aloe Garden

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Aloe Garden

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Part 1 of my Lotusland coverage features the Visitor Center and Australian Garden, the Tropical Garden and the Japanese Garden.

Part 2 is about the Blue Garden, the Cycad Garden, the Fern Garden and the Bromeliad Garden.

Part 4 covers the Water Garden, the cacti and euphorbia plantings along the road to the main house and the main house itself.

Part 5 wraps things up with a tour of the Cactus Garden.

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10 comments:

  1. Thanks for another fabulous post...this is a part of the garden I remember well and I love the pond!

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    1. I like the pond, too. It reflects Mme Walska's personality so well. Anybody can have a pond or pool, but who has one lined with hundreds of abalone shells?

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  2. Thanks for your fabulous pictures! the last 2 are really atmospheric!

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    1. Thanks, Clive. Lotusland is chock full of atmosphere. I hope you'll get a chance to visit someday.

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  3. The aloe garden is spectacular, dramatic, and the last two photos are breathtaking! Great to see mature aloe specimens in the garden too!

    I suppose Ganna Walkska didn't want anyone to sit on the edge of her pond with all that abalone surrounding it. I do like that pond though, and epitomizes her personality too.

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    1. Ganna Walska called herself an "enemy of the average," and this pond is a testament to that. Like it or hate it, it's anything but average.

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  4. Seeing aloes with trunks still freaks me out. You'd think I'd be getting used to it, but no.

    Also, that's a "pond" only to her and the Clampetts. No plants or wildlife or tiniest bit of algae? Pool.

    Wonderful garden though!

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    1. Your pond vs. pool comment made me laugh. The definition is simple: If it ain't for swimming, it ain't a pool :-).

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    2. If you ever visit my garden, bring your swimming trunks because you'll be going for a dip in my "pool"! (Hope you don't mind tadpoles and whatnot.)

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  5. I loved the pond! Such beauty, she had quite a vision. And those aloes....Wow!

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