Santa Monica, Calif: a Pier, a Park, 13 Gardens, and Bonus Dancers

Santa Monica, Calif: a Pier, a Park, 13 Gardens, and Bonus Dancers

Aerial view of Santa Monica Pier – actually two adjoining piers that have long had separate owners.

My next post about the gardens of California (you didn’t think I’d fly 3,000  miles and come back with just one post, did you?) is the fruit of my favorite thing to do when I visit new places – riding around nice residential neighborhoods gawking at and photographing my favorite homes and front gardens. So that’s what I did in Santa Monica, just north of Los Angeles, on the coast.

Pier

But first, I embraced my inner tourist and walked to the end of the famous Santa Monica Pier, which Wiki tells us has been featured in dozens of films, TV shows, music videos and video games. 

Dancers

I was just in time to see some amazing dancers perform.

Park

Another iconic image of Santa Monica is Palisades Park, with its cycling+jogging path overlooking the beach and ocean below.  It offers a full 22 miles of “inspiring coastal scenery,” as the visitors bureau correctly puts it.

You may recognize this jogging path from one of the 51 films that have used it as a location, according to IMDB. 

13 Gardens (with Homes)

After great success as a tourist – dancers! – I headed into town to rent a very basic bike and then ride slowly down some of the fanciest streets in this very fancy town, stopping to photograph my favorites and a couple more that I found interesting in some way. But let’s start with my favorite homes and gardens, none of which look anything like what we see in the East.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

Don’t ask me to identify these plants – or any plants in this entire post.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

This front garden is just begging me to walk through it.  Yes, this can be frustrating.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

Again, aren’t you dying to see over the wall?

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

Yeah, I could see myself living in a grove of palms.Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan HarrisHey, weren’t we recently discussing cloud pruning in comments on this post? Well, how about this example?! I can’t even guess how long it took working from a cherrypicker to accomplish this horticultural wonder.Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris This garden I like except for the geometrically pruned shrub, which I just want to rescue and restore to its natural shape.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

Is this dramatic, orange plant called a Pencil Cactus? Whatever it is, I want it.  (While admitting that it would die in my zone 7B garden.)

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

This one I wouldn’t want to actually live and garden in – too angular, bare and grey for me – but it’s sure interesting.   Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan HarrisThis front garden is mostly hardscape but I appreciate the plant design.  Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan HarrisThis home is so lovely, I’d give anything to see the interior – and the back garden, of course.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

This is only front-yard meadow-type garden I saw on my visit.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

I saw plenty of Eastern-style gardens around Santa Monica but this is the only one in front of a Spanish-style home. Though a jarring mismatch to my eyes, I still love that someone is gardening up a storm here! Real gardening, not mowing, blowing and shearing.

Santa Monica, California garden. Photo by Susan Harris

Speaking of shearing, I love this tomato red home and its custom gate. But oy, could the shrubs look any uglier??

Celebrities, too!

Apparently, lots of celebrities have homes in Santa Monica (not necessarily lived in but, you know, counting among the several homes they own).  I doubt that I rode by any of them but I did find these 10 celebrity homes online, of which Matt Damon’s is my favorite. Or maybe Judd Apatow’s.  It’s hard to choose.

Santa Monica pier photo credit.

Palisades Park photo credit.

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