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Renovations Set To Begin This Week On Part Of World Famous Garden On South Coast

It’s just a few steps from a parking lot in the foothills of Montecito to what feels like a forest.

You are surrounded by beautiful, unusual plants. Even its name is exotic: Lotusland. This 37 acre horticultural wonderland is home to more than 3,000 tropical and subtropical plant species from around the world.  This week, work is officially getting underway to update one of the most popular, and historic parts of the garden.

Gwen Stauffer is Lotusland’s CEO. She says t he unique garden has a history which goes back to the 1800’s. While the Lotusland site has had gardens for about 140 years, it’s just coming up on 25 years as a public garden. It was not open to the public for many years, and that still creates some confusion, because some people don’t understand you can visit, with reservations.

It took years for Lotusland to get a permit from the County to have visitors, with many neighbors fighting it because of concerns about traffic, and noise. Even now, the number of visitors is capped at 15,000 a year, and it has to close for three months of the year. Wednesday marks the end of its 2017 season.

She says with limits to the number of visitors, fundraising is key to covering the high costs of tending to the massive garden, because tickets cover less than 10% of the non-profit’s operating costs.

One of the most famous parts of Lotusland is its Japanese Garden, which was created just after World War II. This week, work is getting underway on a $4.6 million dollar project to renovate it with a new pond, paths which are accessible for those with disabilities, and a number of rest and meditation areas. $3.6 million dollars has been raised so far, and the goal is to raise the final million so the renovation will be complete for the garden’s 25th anniversary next year of being open to the public.