Beloved Cypress: A Lotusland Farewell

The Santa Barbara garden must say goodbye to a longtime friend.

AUGUST AND ELEGANT: If you've spent some time around the Central Coast, from Santa Barbara up through Monterey, you not only have come to love the Monterey cypress trees, but you may have picked out a few favorites. Maybe you love a particular specimen that's a bit south of Carmel-by-the-sea, or perhaps you found a cypress on 17 Mile Drive that captured your heart (and time, if you spent 20 happy minutes taking photographs of the tree from various angles). In short? Becoming besotted with the august and elegant tree is a passion many Californians have enjoyed for many years.

ONE SUCH ELEGANT TREE... may be found at Ganna Walska Lotusland, a Monterey cypress that's stood on the property's great lawn for more than 130 years. It began as a seedling over 13 decades back, and now the Monterey cypress stands tall, an instant favorite for those calling upon the plant-lush spread. But, fans of old trees are getting some heart-tender news in February 2017: The tree must come down at the close of the month. "The tree took a turn for the worse," reveals a garden representative, "...with the top turning brown and large portions of the green growth just giving up." There is concern over falling branches at this point, but buffs of the cypress may see it when Lotusland re-opens its tours on Feb. 16. But do make a reservation and visit by Feb. 25, if you want to see the tree.

POSITIVE NOTES: Garden staffers have strung Tibetan prayer flags in the tree's limbs, and its place? A "small Monterey cypress, grown from the seed of the current tree," shall be planted where the big tree once stood on Arbor Day. Lotusland has also "...invited people to send a farewell message to this wonderful icon," so contact the landmark for more information, if you can't visit. 

AN "AMAZING" RUN: Gwen Stauffer, the Executive Director of Lotusland, says "In its native habitat, the tree could have lived up to 200 years. The species thrives in the rain, fog, and cooler climate of Northern California." She continues: "Today, the tree is found naturally only in Monterey County at Cypress Point, Point Lobos, and Carmel Bay. Considering this tree is not in its native habitat, but a much more southern location that is hotter, to lasted this long is amazing." If you've had an amazing experience at the garden, and admired this cypress, stop by, over the second half of February, to say farewell. And stop by again, post-Arbor Day, to wish the young, soon-to-be-planted cypress loads of treeful luck.

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