Eric Nagelmann* was once somewhat of a shy violet. One of nine children raised a stone’s throw from Lotusland, he spent time quietly tending his family’s garden as a child. He is rarely described as shy today, as he is not afraid to lend his voice as a champion for things close to his heart. Lotusland is grateful to be among Eric’s passions. He has gifted us his design work pro-bono, as well as supporting many other local organizations including the Carpinteria Bluffs, the Carpinteria Arts Center, Santa Barbara High School’s Green Academy, Elings Park and Planned Parenthood.
A preeminent landscape designer whose international work and reputation are unparalleled, Eric’s generosity, energy and impact at Lotusland are immeasurable. Current professional projects include the Goldstein residence in Los Angeles, which was recently bequeathed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Eric is leading a Lotusland field trip to the residence on February 10, 2017. Another of Eric’s recent projects is Cuixmala, a glamorous bohemian resort in Careyes, Mexico.
Eric was first introduced to Lotusland by a friend in the 1970s. He recalls a meeting with Madame Walska, who greeted him warmly and invited him to enjoy the property, long before it became open to the public. That visit left an impression that led to Eric’s deep involvement as a long-time donor and designer at Lotusland. He has gifted his talents on three significant gardens. First was the creation of the Dunlap cactus garden in 2003, which he fondly refers to as “Salvador Dali goes to the desert.”
In 2015, Eric created the Palmetum, by reimagining the central garden and walkway between the water garden and the front of the historic Reginald Johnson-designed home and opening up an important 514′-long architectural axis reaching south to the wishing well. Most recently, Eric renovated our insectary garden, now a humming haven for beneficial insects and a valuable teaching tool for our Sustainable Horticulture Program. While the cactus garden is arguably Eric’s biggest achievement at Lotusland, the insectary represents Eric’s deep connection to the garden. It is a garden that, like Eric, warmly draws you in, creates a buzz of positive activity and has a far-reaching benefit for the entire property and our community.
In spring of 2017, when the insectary is in full bloom, Lotusland will celebrate with a ribbon-cutting and reception. We hope you will join us to help recognize Eric, and please say thank you when you see him in the garden!
By Rebecca Anderson
*This profile was originally printed in the Winter 2017 Lotusland bulletin. Text and profile photo courtesy of Lotusland.