695 Ashley Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108
NileGuide Expert tip:
Arrive a little early before your scheduled tour to peruse the gift shop and to read through the history of Madame Walska. The more you know about the gardens going into a tour, the more meaningful it will be for you.
Madame Gana Walska was an eccentric Montecito resident who devoted her life to cultivating 37 acres of lush botanical gardens on her estate. Each area of the landscape is a microcosm of an environment, from cacti to cycads, and more lotuses than you can imagine (as the name of the gardens suggests). Since woman of the house was not a fan of flowers, the rose garden is the only area with traditional blooms. Elsewhere on the estate you'll see citrus orchards, succulents, a hedge maze, curious gnome-like statues from France, a pool lined with giant clam shells, and more. It's required to sign up for a guided tour, and guides often share tales of Madame Walska's storied past and the reasons for her obsession with particular aspects of her beloved estate.