Tag Archives: nature

Sanctuary | Lotusland Online Art Sale & Gallery Exhibition

Online Art Sale & Gallery Exhibition launches on Earth Day April 22 through May 3, 2021.

Launching April 22, visit the online show or in person at GraySpace in the Funk Zone GraySpace Gallery, 219 Gray Ave., Santa Barbara, California.

Please visit: www.Lotusland.org/sanctuary/ for more information.

The invitation was sent to 36 local artists to participate. Artists were asked to create new work inspired by Lotusland. Artists were given 3 days to visit the Garden and only 8 weeks to create, capture and complete their muse at Lotusland. Whether it be a specific garden, found materials, or to create in the Garden their piece of work for the show. It was a creative concept and challenge that the artists were craving, especially this year.

Funds raised support sustainable Lotusland’s sustainability programs which promote and teach individuals, groups, gardeners, and institutions about the best methods and practices in horticulture, environmental responsibility, and stewardship.

Lotusland Executive Director, Rebecca Anderson says, “In response to the pandemic, and the shortfalls we experienced as a result, we needed to rethink fundraisers. With a desire to connect the community to our mission, we dreamed up this concept for a new benefit event with participating artists from our region. We view this online sale and show as a way to foster connection with Lotusland’s supporters, engage and encourage local artists, and sustain the Garden’s important sustainability programs.”

The artists and show are curated by volunteers Ashley Woods Hollister and Casey Turpin, and the Gallery space is sponsored by Ruth Ellen Hoag and GraySpace Gallery. “We knew this could be a special way for people to bring a piece of the Lotusland sanctuary to their own home,” explain Ashley and Casey, co-curators of the exhibition.

Participating artists include:

Paulo Lima,

R. Nelson Parrish Michael Adcock Taiana Giefer

Skip Smith Meredith Brooks Abbott

Phoebe Brunner Robert Abbott Rick Garcia Baret Boisson

Leslie Lewis Sigler Ruth Ellen Hoag

Joan Rosenberg-Dent

Kerrie Smith Michael Haber Lindsey Ross Manjari Sharma Jessica June Avrutin Bobbi Bennett Connie Connally Inga Guzyte

Maria Rendon Cara Bonewitz Lynda Weinman Blakeney Sanford Erika Carter

Cathy Moholm Luis Alberto Velazquez

Sophie Gibbings George Leo Sanders Ro Snell

Olivia Joffrey Lily Hahn Whitney Hansen

Whitney Brooks Abbott Ryan Shand

“The garden is magic, and it has touched my work in a way that will give me endless ideas and new directions for much more time to come!” – Lynda Weinman, Former Lotusland Trustee, and participating artist

“Walking alone through Lotusland on those quiet Monday mornings felt like falling down the rabbit hole into a secret world. It was truly sensory overload at every turn – layers upon layers of colors and textures and smells.” – Jessica June Avrutin, participating artist

Ashley Woods Hollister has long supported local artists through her work with Art from Scrap and as the former director of the Morris Squire Foundation. Casey Turpin is an avid volunteer in the Insectary Garden at Lotusland, and both are passionate about showcasing Lotusland’s beauty and science through the eyes of a local artist community.

Lotusland is a precious outdoor space for the Santa Barbara community. Proceeds from this event keep the Garden growing, and remains a source of beauty and respite for visitors.

The artists’ contributions advance Lotusland’s mission to inspire and inform the public about protecting, conserving, and renewing nature and its precious resources.

“Through the Sanctuary Art Sale and Exhibition, our goal is to contribute to the success of Lotusland’s horticultural care, as well as providing education to others about best practices and philosophies to support sustainability. We feel very lucky and excited to be a part of this wonderfully creative process.” – Ashley Woods Hollister & Casey Turpin, Art Curators for Sanctuary

For more information, please Contact: Kerstin Olson Horneman, Event Manager, Ganna Walska Lotusland

khorneman@lotusland.org 805.969.3767 (130)

Montecito Union School’s Nature Lab Offers Limitless Potential

At the southern end of Montecito Union School lies a 2.5-acre property with nearly limitless potential. After a school-wide visioning process that involved every student, we have named this space and decided upon a bold vision for its use.

When fully realized, the Nature Lab will invite learners to imagine, build, and get messy in nature as they care for the planet and one another. We will do this by creating an experiential outdoor ecosystem that combines:

– Biodynamic/Regenerative Agriculture

– Nature-Inspired Making and Arts Collaboratory

– Environment as Agent of Challenge and Wonder…

– …providing endless possibilities to grow within a unique and ever-evolving natural setting.

Biodynamic/Regenerative Agriculture

When students cross over the Joffrey Bridge into Nature lab, they will be entering a space of wonderment and awe. Students will create a model of self-sustaining agriculture including gardens, produce, composting, and livestock and other animals.  As they harvest, they will decide what to use, what to donate, and what to sell as they engage in both business development and service learning.

Nature-Inspired Making and Arts Collaboratory

At Nature Lab, students will be active creators. This includes nature-inspired making and tinkering such as pottery, collage, wood and metalworking, weaving and textiles, painting, dye, and mixed media projects using the natural materials that abound. While our large solar array will generate 100% of the electricity needs for the whole campus, it will also provide a shaded gathering place for the community or a natural performance and gallery place. The addition of an outdoor kitchen will produce many opportunities for gatherings and for using the produce and crops grown on site.

Environment as Agent of Challenge and Wonder

Students will be able to investigate the riparian zone created by our water feature, the natural playground made from the logs of massive eucalyptus, and engage in student-led inquiries and purposeful play in our low treehouse. Student agency and the pursuit of passions will help us to launch inspired thinkers who will positively impact the world.

The Nature Lab is already being used in its current form, allowing for large-scale engineering, small-scale agriculture, and plenty of opportunities for student activism. If we realize the full potential of Nature Lab, we will have created a lasting resource and a living experiential outdoor facility that will help to nurture, excite, and inspire generations of Mustangs!

Progress Report

Much has already been accomplished at the Nature Lab. First, the house that was on the property was demolished. Though the house was beautiful, it was not up to code for use by public school students, so it needed to be removed.  The removal of this house also made for much more usable space at the Nature Lab.

To provide an entrance befitting the Nature Lab, the Joffrey Footbridge was constructed, linking “MUS proper” to the Nature Lab. This picturesque footbridge meets the functional need to safely get to the property, and also creates a distinct feel for the user that they are entering a place of wonderment and beauty.

The low tree house has also been fully constructed and is already been well-utilized by students. It has served as the site of science experiments, reading circles, impromptu dramatic play, has been converted into a colonial schoolhouse by 5th graders, and has provided a teaching spot for classes utilizing Nature Lab.

Our Nature Lab is already home to a few animals, including three chickens and one sulcata tortoise. The animal enclosures are simple and safe at the moment, but students are already helping us to design animal enclosures that better meet the needs of these animals, are more permanent, and better designed.

A large-scale solar structure has been designed which will generate 100% of the electricity needs for the entire campus as well as provide shade for students using the northern section of the property. This structure will begin construction June of 2021 and should be completed by August of 2021. In addition, a full infrastructure plan has been designed (water, electricity, sewer, and gas) and this should also be completed by August 2021.

That means that by September 2021 we will be ready to really develop this property! 

With the help of student designers and parent volunteers, we hope to create gardens, a farm stand, an outdoor kitchen, and more. We’ll also work to professionally design a water feature which will be a centerpiece of the property and attract birds and other animals while providing an excellent opportunity for students to become scientists as they explore the natural world.

Kinetic Joy: Youth in Nature

Children today spend as much as 90% of their lives indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The effects on health are obvious. But, brain development? A California Department of Education study found that at-risk students who participated in outdoor education programs saw their science scores jump 27%, while boosting self-esteem and motivation to learn. 

This is something the team at Santa Barbara’s Wilderness Youth Project (WYP) knows intrinsically. The 21-year-old nonprofit has a simple slogan: “Spending time in nature makes children smarter, healthier, and happier.” 

Alongside afterschool services, summer camps, and teen camping trips, the organization’s marquis program is “Bridge to Nature,” a program that takes 4th graders on a 3.5-hour nature-based adventure once a month. 

Despite having more than 80 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunch, Franklin Elementary on Santa Barbara’s Eastside has become an oasis of promise with vibrant afterschool programs, dedicated teachers, and the Wilderness Youth Project. 

“For me as a classroom teacher, I have really seen a change in the students in regards to how they view nature,” says 4th grade teacher Marlen Limón. “I love how they come back and are so excited and want to share how their day went. They are writing narratives about WYP, understanding science through hands-on learning, and just vocalizing how they love to be outdoors.”

On a recent Thursday, one of Limón’s students joined a pair of WYP’s experienced mentors and his classmates on a trip to Lizard’s Mouth, 20 minutes up into the Santa Barbara mountains. The group made time to play “coyotes and fawns” – a nature-based version of tag. They journaled and they made the steep hike to the top, with its sweeping views down over the shining blue expanse of the Pacific.

“I look out and see the ocean, the town, the world,” the 4th grader wrote from his perch. “This is one place where I can just be who I am: I can run, jump, sit, hide, and explore. I am amazed by this place and wonder what extraordinary animals live here.”

The WYP team loves seeing that kind of exuberance from their young charges. It’s that “kinetic joy” children get when exposed to nature. 

WYP doles out nature-based joy to 1,000 children and adults every year. 

A Botanical Nirvana

In Montecito, a land of spectacular architecture and pristine gardens, there lies a property like no other: Lotusland. 

Set across 37 acres, this sprawling estate turned public garden boasts 3,500 plant species from across the globe, many dating back 140 years, with towering palms and cacti, brilliant water gardens, and some of the most endangered fauna in the world. Then layer in the life of its enigmatic creator, Madame Ganna Walska, and you have a landscape that is a living work of art. 

“Part of the magic of Lotusland is the size and the scale of these mature specimen plants,” says Executive Director Rebecca Anderson. “Lotusland is grand and historic. When you enter, you are transported to a magical world where fantasy, whimsey and horticultural genius create a botanical masterpiece.” 

In late 2020, USA Today readers voted Lotusland one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the country. 

This remarkable garden was made even more so by its founder, Madame Ganna Walska, an Opera singer of intermittent fame, married six times, who purchased the property in 1941. She originally named it Tibetland, in anticipation of the Tibetan monks who were to be invited to study on the estate. When that plan dissolved, she renamed the gardens Lotusland due to the presence and symbolism of this exceptional flowering plant. Before her death in 1984, Madame created her signature masterpiece; converting the swimming pool into a water garden, creating a sanctuary for more than 200 species of Cyads (among the rarest plants on Earth) and erecting 20 themed gardens and filling the estate will sculpture and treasured collections.

It wouldn’t be until 1993 that Walska’s dream of converting Lotusland into a public garden was realized. Given the estate’s location, in the heart of residential Montecito, it took nine years and 64 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meetings to approve the nonprofit garden for public visitation. With that approval came severe restrictions on visitation: today, just 15,000 guests may visit per year as well as 5,000 school children.

“We want to discredit the myth that we are exclusive by design,” Anderson says, “Despite its appearance, Lotusland is not affluent. We struggle every year to raise the funds necessary to preserve and share Ganna Walska’s vision.” 

Anderson points out that maintaining a 37-acre garden and property is a massive commitment that requires our community’s attention. “For the first 27 years of our operations, we appropriately put the Garden’s care and tending above all. Now, the 100 year old buildings and grounds have begun to show their age and need considerable investment.” 

Her charge is to ensure that the entire property is brought up to the level it deserves for the education and enjoyment of the next generation. Lotusland is more than a beautiful place – it is a porthole to history, an important link in global plant preservation, a center for learning and a refuge for unparalleled spiritual elevation. 

“People crave the respite and reset brought by immersing in nature,” Anderson says. “Lotusland is an oasis that is healing to body and soul. Its benefits are palpable and its important plant collections are unparalleled. Visit Lotusland and be transported by a botanical nirvana that is tranquil, verdant and lush.”