Venice, California

While in Los Angeles we stayed at a rented cottage in the Venice neighborhood.

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During last year’s trip we drove far and wide to see some revelatory sights – Watts Towers, the Huntington Gardens. This year we were more low key. Fortunately, we were in a good house and neighborhood for low key relaxation.

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The front of our house was well camouflaged with robust subtropical plants. The back, meanwhile, was very private – perfect for reading or snoozing.

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These lounge chairs were well used.

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Venice is a very walkable neighborhood. We could walk to the beach, to bars and restaurants, and to all kinds of shops. I liked the sentiment expressed in the window of this wine shop.

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For myself, I mainly walked around gawking at people’s gardens.

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There were lots of container plants plus chairs for lounging in the California weather.

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Bamboo certainly makes for a good privacy screen, but doesn’t it run amok?

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And of course I had to examine the plants, shockingly green or even blooming in December. Look, oranges!

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And did you know that jade plants (Crassula ovata) can grow outside? And that they have flowers? Astonishing!

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The orange flowers are Thunbergia alata, I guess. They were covering a fence and blooming profusely under the palms. My younger son would take pictures of the perfect blue skies and text them to his girlfriend who was stuck in cold and dreary Minnesota. I told him this might not be the best way to strengthen the relationship.

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Late December roses in bloom.

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In the Land of Big Honking Succulents.

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I’m told that Venice has been until recently considered a bohemian neighborhood, full of artists and surfers. However, in recent years McMansions have been popping up and housing prices have rocketed up to the heavens.Β The neighborhood still has a bohemian feel to it, even so.

On the other hand, I will say that we were not impressed by Abbott Kinney Boulevard. The shops had nothing we found interesting – way too hip, and expensive, for us.

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There were lots of raised beds on the parkways. Some were planted with greens, one with strawberries, others were mostly empty.

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Turns out they were something called Community Healing Gardens, which raises fresh food to be donated to food banks and nutrition programs for kids.

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Of course, I can’t write about Venice without mentioning Venice Beach. While famous for its tacky boardwalk, it is still a very beautiful place.

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“Ex-ter-min-ate!”

Which is not to say I didn’t take advantage of the tacky boardwalk to buy a Dahlek made from spare bits of metal. Makes an excellent paper weight.

Next post: Tongva Park in Santa Monica.

58 Comments on “Venice, California

  1. is retirement to CA in your future?? I have a jade plant that spends all summer outside but the winter inside. Love the comment about the ‘big honking succulent’. πŸ™‚

  2. -i like this post. Used to stay for some winters just down the road from Venice, in Manhattan Beach. Very similar to where you were. Nice memories keep coming back, of much sunshine, the easy life and many beautiful people (makes one feel out of place, somehow).

  3. We spent our week and a day in three different hotels, moving from Burbank (for easy access to LA proper at a better rate) to Ventura and finally Thousand Oaks for the family/Christmas part of the trip. I find myself jealous of your fabulous Venice home and relaxing location!

    • I can actually see the advantages of moving around when in LA, because it is so darn sprawling. Sometimes I think I’d like to convince the family to stay around Pasadena, so that we could just visit all the gardens in eastern LA County.

  4. So funny, I can’t imagine NOT growing jade plants outside & missing those flowers & red edged leaves in the summer πŸ™‚

  5. You wouldn’t think my little jade plant was the same plant that you saw, mine is so tiny! Love the Dalek made out of bits of metal, good up-cycling!

  6. I was once in Venice in 1989. I remember the beach and all the people there, skating and just showing of. It looks warm and friendly. What a nice way to spend Christmas.

  7. In a dry climate I don’t think the bamboo would be a problem, it needs lots of water to grow and expand. I have bamboo near an irrigation ditch where is grows well but doesn’t spread away from the water!

  8. I too would have been gawking at the gardens. All of those pots are interesting. They must not have very good soil there and everyone knows this.

  9. I always love visiting a place where houseplants grow outside! But I hate seeing those McMansions going up. There goes the neighborhood.

  10. What a delightful place to stay and relax! When we visited Eureka, Ca (summer, 5 years ago?) we stayed in a little bungalow and it had the most amazing garden! It was so lush, green, small, and just filled with flowers. I had definite garden envy.

  11. I like your Venice accommodation. It looks very relaxing.
    The planters on the parkways are a good idea. I wonder how they have kept them watered during the drought and water restrictions? Were you there when the much- needed rain came to Southern California?

    • There was a tiny bit of rain one day when we were there. There had been some before we got there, but most of the rain they’ve received came after we left.

  12. Nice place to visit for a bit of winter sunshine. I’m afraid I’d be doing the exact same as your son. I would be sharing those gorgeous skies to all and sundry!
    Loving the Dalek – you don’t strike me as a Dr Who fan Jason.

  13. What a lovely cottage !!! I too am always amazed to see plants on holiday the size of a shrub or tree that I have at home growing in a small pot !!

  14. Very interesting to see Venice, and all the plants around there. What a contrast that must be to Chicago!…

  15. Thanks for the views of Venice. I like where you stayed; the blue lounge chairs look very inviting. I laughed over the Friends sign. How true!

  16. Ooh, this Venice looks like a lovely place. And that sky…! Sitting here in the chilly, grey, damp UK it’s made me feel a little warmer. Interesting to see the ginormous succulents and palms, etc. Thanks Jason πŸ™‚

  17. Very different from Maine, especially this time of year. So enjoyable to take a walk with you around Venice. I’m not sure my heart could take the delight of having honest-to-God oranges growing in my backyard. Finally, love the dahlek!

  18. LOL … poor girlfriend. But, yes, that sky is blue! That community garden idea is fabulous. I wonder if they were in the process of adding the plants, or maybe shifting to a new crop. The house you stayed in looks perfect, too.

  19. I must say I echo the sentiments in the wine shop, and was smiling at your son’s antics re the blue sky pics! Struth, that bamboo will populate California one day. Just loved the blue skies and the sight of oranges……sighs….and what a fantastic idea to have a healing community garden that serves good causes. I did enjoy this, and the second hand sunshine. All we have is endless dreary rain.xxx

  20. Looks lovely. I can’t think of a better way to spend time in a vacation spot than gawking at gardens. πŸ™‚

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