The Lotusland Japanese Garden

Torri with 15% G w GML(gp-K)


Our comprehensive renovation plan will rejuvenate and preserve this treasured garden while meeting our visitors’ modern needs. Restoring Body & Spirit is a metaphor for our goal to improve the physical condition of the garden and restore the garden’s body and soul, making it possible for visitors to do the same. Our campaign icon, the Torii, symbolizes the transition from a chaotic and mundane world into a sacred and peaceful space. All visitors, no matter their physical or emotional condition, may enter the Japanese Garden to leave a hectic and troubling world behind and be restored.


Since the late 1800s several layers of history have been represented in the Japanese Garden. When Madame Walska purchased the estate she conceived her unique vision for a Japanese-styled garden around the pond, commissioning plans from landscape architects, and scrap-booking clippings about Japanese gardens over several years.

The Japanese Garden, the largest garden at Lotusland, was initially created in the 1960s on the footprint of the existing paths, the Reflecting Pond and large trees. Madame’s direction was implemented by stone mason Oswald “Ozzie” Da Ros, and influenced by the lead gardener and aesthetic pruner, Frank Fujii, and the Japanese Garden continued to evolve over the years.

This is an important example of the type of Japanese-style garden built on American private estates after World War II, and is the only one open to the public between Los Angeles and the Bay Area in the immediate tri-county region.

The Challenge

Following Madame’s death, aesthetic changes were made that were not in keeping with Madame’s and Fujii’s vision. Many additional garden features planned and documented were not realized. The Japanese Garden continued to be modified and the result is a collection of plants, features and garden elements that are unorganized, unsafe by modern standards, and in some cases, clearly incomplete. After deliberate consideration of all challenges, the Design Team identified these pressing needs:


Repair the garden’s aging infrastructure: rebuild and line the pond, restore original plant collections, unify the historic layers of the garden, and address its current and future use as a public space, so that all elements are seamlessly connected. Realize Madame Walska’s vision for the garden and fulfill the uncompleted plans by her Japanese Garden designer, Frank Fujii, to provide visitors with sweeping vistas, close contact with lotuses, and intimate spaces to rest, relax, and contemplate.


Create greater access and safer paths for all visitors, especially those with disabilities, through the Japanese Garden and adjacent gardens, and to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Create gathering points along the paths for visitors to pause and experience the garden more deeply, and to provide space for future programming that is currently not possible.


Establish an endowment dedicated solely to the perpetual care of the garden, ensuring that Lotusland’s revived Japanese Garden continues to provide visitors – now and well into the future – with a tranquil, meditative, and inspiring experience.


To distill the energy of nature into a place that attracted divine spirits, thereby allowing humans to consort with them and become enlightened and renewed. In Japanese garden design, “living” stones and plants are arranged specifically to release their positive energy vibrations for humans to receive.

In modern history, Japanese gardens have long been appreciated and understood as places where individuals can experience peace and tranquility. In fact, recent medical research has confirmed lowered heart rates and increased brain function in people who are in a Japanese garden. The healing effects of gardens is a phenomenon gardeners have known intuitively, but is now being proven with empirical data.

Lotusland’s Japanese garden, where nature and visitors meet in artful and mindful respite, is the most popular of the gardens at Lotusland and a place where one can begin to restore body and spirit. Honoring that essence of peace and rejuvenation, we chose Restoring Body & Spirit as the theme for our campaign to renovate and endow the Japanese Garden. This theme is a metaphor for the actions we will take to improve and enhance the physical condition of the garden and restore Madame’s vision.

We will restore the body and soul of the Japanese Garden, making it possible for members and visitors to do the same. The Torii, chosen as the symbol for our campaign, symbolizes the transition from a chaotic and mundane world into a sacred and peaceful space. Indeed, it is our intent that all visitors, no matter their physical, mental or emotional condition, may enter the Japanese garden and leave their hectic lives and a troubling world behind to be refreshed and restored.

There are a few key aspects to the Japanese Garden Renovation Project. The pathway system will be modified to be fully accessible to visitors with physical disabilities, as well as to frame views and reveal garden elements to inspire and delight visitors. New gathering spaces along the paths will allow visitors to simply be in that space to view and contemplate the garden- something that is currently not possible. The new gathering spaces will also enable unprecedented programming.

We will also reconstruct the pond with a liner and biofiltration system so the water is clear and the Koi fish may be observed, further enhancing the human-nature connection and the energy of the garden. We will rebuild structural elements, replace aging plants and restore original plantings.

Finally, we will seek endowment support so that the Japanese Garden’s maintenance will endure in perpetuity, thereby sustaining the body and spirit of future generations of visitors to the garden.

For more information about the Japanese Garden Renovation Project, or if you are interested in learning how you can support this project, please contact Rebecca Anderson at 805.969.3767, ext. 104 or