Tongva Park, Santa Monica
Tongva Park is an innovative public space in the city of Santa Monica, just north of Venice Beach. Barely more than two years old, it was designed by some of the same people who did the High Line in New York City.
I was able to convince the family to walk from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market up to Tongva Park (not very far), so we could have a look.
Tongva Park was built on a six acre paved parking lot that lay across the street from the city hall.
Curving paths wander through a sculpted topography of hills and ravines. This topography, along with hidden niches, make the park seem much bigger than it is.
There’s a playground with slides and rocks for climbing.
I enjoyed the combination of grasses and succulents, creating a landscape of spikes mixed with soft, finely textured mounds.
A fine spot for running a little bit wild.
An interesting feature of the park is how the surrounding city appears and disappears as you wander around. That’s Danny taking it all in.
At the western edge of the park there is an overlook from which you can see the beach and Pacific Ocean.
More mixing of shaggy and soft, clean and spiky. I have to say that this palette of plants really does maintain its beauty in the California winter, despite the lack of blooms. The park includes a mix of California natives and other plants from Mediterranean climates.
I know lots of gardens purport to have winter interest, but I usually find winter interest to be kind of boring. The interesting succulent here is Aloe marlothii, according to Jane of Mulch Maid and Loree of Danger Garden, and they should know.
I didn’t realize that many of the succulents turn red in the cooler weather. What we have here is most likely an Agave, an Aloe, or a Ground Squid coming up for air, tentacles first.
I liked the look of this grass or sedge against the stone.
Some of the water features had been turned off in the cause of conservation, but this very fine waterfall was softly burbling away.
Tongva Park has won quite a few awards from urban planning, land use, and parks groups – and I can see why. It’s a popular public space that evokes the natural lands that once could be found here, all on a former parking lot.