Recently, Lotusland received a gift from an anonymous donor totaling $1 million to sustain the organization’s historic Topiary Garden in perpetuity. Lotusland preserves the incredible and diverse gardens developed by Ganna Walska and Ralph Kinton Stevens from1955 to 1957.
Madame Walska worked closely with Stevens over the course of two years to create the beautiful display, which consists of two specialized types of gardens. One part of the garden is comprised of trained topiaries in a range of different shapes, sizes, and colors. The other major part is working floral clock that stretches across 25 feet. At the time of its creation, the floral clock was the largest in the world. On the face, copper zodiac signs mark each hour. A variety of colored stones and succulents surround each copper piece. Surrounding the clock are large topiaries in the form of animals and geometric shapes. Madame Walska purchased the topiaries from Osaki Plant Zoo in Los Angeles.
The Lotusland Topiary Garden underwent a major renovation in 2000 in honor of Carol Valentine, who presided as president of the board at that time. The gift allows the organization to maintain the garden as a major attraction of the Lotusland property. Madame Walska’s property includes a wide range of gardens that she began planting in 1882. She worked with some of the most influential designers in Southern California to design the property, including Reginald Johnson, Lockwood De Forest, Charles Glass, and George Washington Smith.
The garden clock and topiaries at Lotusland are representative of the spectacular features that American garden estates created during the first half of the 20th century and often incorporated into their design. In addition, they have become emblematic of the whimsy with which designers approached the property. The gift to the Topiary Garden ensures that generations to come will have the opportunity to experience the land firsthand, and it serves as an important step toward creating an endowment that will preserve all of Lotusland in perpetuity.