Palmetum

Historically, palm collections were planted within the tropical botanical gardens of colonial times, in the 18th and 19th centuries, where plants belonging to the palm family were grouped together.

Palmetum-F-1826-7'WEB
George Washington Smith bench at the north end of the garden axis.

The original swimming pool constructed in the 1920s (now the lotus pond) was set in a long axis that extended from a tile bench at the north to the wishing well at the southern end. When Madame Walska purchased the property in 1941 plantings flanking the long axis were not maintained. Eventually, she planted a number of Butia palms as well as at least one hybrid Jubaea X Butia along the northern edge, but made no other significant changes to the area. This renovation restored what is known from just a few historic photos of the path and cleared all the overgrown, weedy species from the area.

Under the direction of Eric Nagelman with Lotusland staff input, the slopes were terraced and limestone rocks placed as retaining walls. The limestone is from a quarry near Lake Cachuma, the tufa stones were historically included in the shell pond design, but proved problematic there and the glass cullet was purchased from a nursery in Nevada (no other info on where it came from). The brick portion of the original path was re-laid and a compacted gravel path topped with a naturally colored crushed rock. The pathways are lined with glass cullet à la Madame Walska. Another wheelchair accessible path was also created to allow access to the Palmetam and water garden.

Several of the initial palm plantings were of plants from other locations at Lotusland as well as a number grown from seed or small starts in the Lotusland nursery.