Picasso is not the only artist to have found beauty in a world saturated in blue! The blue garden is widely known and admired by garden designers as a “period piece” and a highlight of any visit to Lotusland. Started in 1948 as a silver garden with the planting of blue Atlas cedars by Madame Walska, it evolved into the blue garden as she added blue-foliaged plants to complement the cedars. At the time, color-themed gardens were considered quite chic, and at its prime in the mid-1950s Lotusland’s blue garden was celebrated as one of the most fascinating gardens in California. The blue garden is as relevant now as it was in Madame Walska’s heyday. The plants in the blue garden are drought-tolerant and thrive in our dry Mediterranean climate.
Why are some plants blue?
Many plants have adapted to intense sun by making their own kind of sunscreen, a thick waxy coating known as a cuticle. Underneath this layer is a perfectly green plant!
Acorn Woodpecker Granary (in the Jubaea chilensis):
Look up! Do you see holes covering the top of this tree? If you had binoculars, you would likely see an individual acorn in each of the holes in this tree. Acorn woodpeckers often choose a tree, phone pole, or even a house to use as a granary. These colorful birds are unique in the animal world. They are the only creatures that carves a hole for each nut they store. They are also the only woodpeckers who live in family-based clans ranging from two to sixteen birds! As you walk through the gardens, listen and you will likely hear their waka-waka calls as you see a flash of black and white.
Blue atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’):
This is a true cedar native to the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa (Morocco and Algeria). True cedars are different from the scaly-leaved false cedars (in the cypress family) of the United States. If you think you have a cedar, you can identify it by its cones. Cedars have upright, barrel-shaped cones.
Bunya-bunya (Araucaria bidwillii):
This fun knobby tree is actually quite dangerous! Also known as the ‘widow-maker’, the bunya-bunya’s fifteen-pound cones are regularly removed by our garden staff.
Notable species: Blue Plants: Festuca ovina v. glauca — Blue Fescue (Europe), Senecio mandraliscae – Chalk Sticks (South Africa), Cedrus atlantica cv. Glauca — Atlas Cedar (Atlas Mountains of Morocco),, Jubaea chilensis — Chilean Wine Palm (Chile), Brahea armata — Blue Hesper Palm (Mexico), Agave attenuata cv. Boutin Blue (Mexico), Agave americana (Mexico), Agave franzosinii Other Plants: Agathis robusta = Queensland Kauri; Araucaria bidwillii = Bunya-bunya; A. cunninghamii = Hoop pine (Australia); Fascicularia pitcairnifolia (Chile