Lotusland : jewels in the garden / by Cora Neil

Lotusland, the former estate of Polish opera singer Madame Walska, is an extraordinary place. Madame, as she was called, gave up her swimming pool to create the lotus pond that inspired the name of the estate. The grounds are designed as “rooms”, each having a theme. The blue garden, for example, is a collection of only blue hued plants and pottery.

A cycad garden was Madam's final masterpiece. I think It's the most telling of the relationship she'd built with her garden, as she auctioned off her jewels to pay for the rare species. She loved to incorporate gems and shells throughout the gardenscapes. My favorite is her pairing of cactus and coral creating a unique juxtaposition between terrestrial and aquatic.

I can only imagine the frustration of the landscape architects Madame Walska employed. The gardens don’t seem to follow any traditional garden design rules but that is what's so appealing about this place. There is nothing particularly pristine or fussy about the gardens which makes them approachable and inviting. She created a space that reflected and supported her interests: an outdoor amphitheater where she gave concerts, a garden sundial fashioned with the symbols of the horoscope, orchards, and grotesque garden gnomes that she buried during the war and later dug up to give them a new home. Touring the garden of this eccentric woman is like reading a memoir.