In the center of Tel Aviv, overlooking the Mediterranean and abutting the Hilton Hotel, there exists a piece of land made up of well thought out pathways, plant choices and combinations, and vistas that is a perfect template for a simple, easy to maintain and a stunning sustainable urban park.
In any major city that is up to date on ecological landscape design, The Independence Park might be one sustainable public area among several. But in Tel Aviv, where planting rows of multi-colored annuals each season is considered to be the height of horticulture, to my eye, this park is a perfect example of how Tel Aviv’s public spaces could be dramatically improved – both aesthetically and sustainably.
I have always been a stickler about the importance of pathways in a garden. Paths are the arteries of a garden park. Without a good flow, no matter how beautiful the plantings are, the overall design will fizzle.
The pathways of this park have been thoughtfully and impeccably laid out with a continuous flow from one end of the park (which is multi-level) to another. Much like a traffic grid in a city, the ‘roads’ of this park are perpendicular, vertical, winding, and with some roundabouts. There are no dead ends. Each one leads to another. It is a walker’s paradise.
The first picture above shows an original walkway from 1952 leading from the lower entry level of the park up towards the Hilton Hotel.
So – when it comes to paths, this park gets 5***** from me.
Next up is plant material.
Independence Park is filled with plantings unlike any other public space in Tel Aviv.
The palette consists solely of drought resistant plants – with a minimial variety of specimens planted in large numbers – aloes, agaves, pennisetum, Plectranthus neochilus and Lotus creticus make up the majority of the plantings along with Tamarix and Olive trees.
The designer – which appears to be Nachum Kulka- has shown a great deal of restraint and discipline- which is a testament to his expertise and artistry.
Plectranthus neochilus is a perennial, aromatic, succulent herb from South Africa. When in bloom, it’s stunning. And when not, it is an attractive evergreen groundcover. It looks stunning draping over edges or juxtapositioned with perennial grasses, aloes, or agaves. For more information, click on San Marco Growers.
The third element that has helped make this park so successful is that it has a simple drip irrigation system laid above ground.
I was a bit surprised that the hoses were still coiled around mature plantings. I was unable to tell if they’re still being used or if they’ve been left there because it would cause a lot of disturbance to the plantings trying to pick them up. I’ll be keeping an eye out on the watering situation as the warmer weather settles in.
You might also be interested in checking out my other articles on pathways-
Now it’s your turn! What urban park is a favorite of yours?