A Stunning Sustainable Urban Park

– Posted in: Garden Design, Sustainable Gardening

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.

Stone Walkway in Independence Park

Independence Park – Original Stone Walkway from 1952


Urban Sustainable Park

The Independence Park in Tel Aviv

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.

Well laid out urban pathway

Well thought out urban pathway in The Independence Park


Tamarix sp.

Tamarix sp. On Either Side of Path


Walkway Independence Park

Dirt Secondary walkway


Walkway in Independence Park

Major Wide Concrete Walkway overlooking Mediterranean


Pathway Independence Park

Major Pathway -View Towards Hilton Hotel – dotted with yellow aloes

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

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.

Aloe sp. in Independence Park

Yellow Aloes  planted in drifts


Aloe sp.

Aloes planted in drifts


Agave sp. and Tamarix trees

Agaves, yellow groundcover Lotus creticus, Tamarix trees


Agaves ready to bloom

Agaves ready to bloom


Pennisetum in urban park

Masses of Pennisetum planted throughout the park


Pennisetum in Independence Park

Pennisetum planted in drifts


Edge of park overlooking Mediterranean Sea

Edge of Independence park overlooking Mediterranean Sea

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-

Pathways In My Backyard

My Pathways

Why Pathways Are Such A Compelling Element In The Garden

Pathways In The Garden ….At Chanticleer

Now it’s your turn! What urban park is a favorite of yours?


Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
9 comments… add one

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Diana/Sharing Nature's Garden April 15, 2014, 7:52 am

What a beautiful garden. We in Texas often look to this area to learn about possible plants that are drought tolerant and might do well here. The paths are lovely. I’d love to visit someday – it’s on my bucket list.

Fran Sorin April 15, 2014, 8:59 am

Diana –
It makes sense that you would look to this part of the world for plant material. I’m often checking out California natives and seeing what thrives in Arizona. Diana- I lived in Dallas from ages 1-8. What I remember most was an armadillo family rampaging through our backyard until they were caught! Plus believe it or not, my Mom tended a lilac tree on an empty lot next door. Hope you’re having a good spring! Fran

Cathy Taughinbaugh April 16, 2014, 4:41 pm

Interesting pictures of The Independence Park, Fran. I always love Pennisetum. It creates such a peaceful feeling. The view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is amazing. Thanks!

Vidya Sury April 17, 2014, 12:59 am

Fran, this is absolutely gorgeous! Simply beautiful!

thank you!

Mr Bill June 26, 2016, 5:20 pm

Great pictures. You have a talent for both photography and gardening.

Shannon Brady July 13, 2016, 10:39 am

Hello there,

My name is Shannon and I am also huge fan of garden pathways. I believe that with proper maintenance and regular waste clearance every garden could turn into paradise like this one in Tel Aviv.


Fran Sorin July 14, 2016, 1:27 am

Hey Shannon,
Thanks so much for your comment. Tel Aviv has a long way to go when it comes to public spaces/greening/gardens but this one proves that any city…regardless of climate or topography…. has the potential to be made into a garden much like Chicago, which is known to be called ‘A City In The Garden’. Cheers…Fran

arthur in the garden March 14, 2017, 8:11 am


Fran Sorin March 15, 2017, 12:00 am

THanks Arthur! Hope you have a wonderful spring. Fran

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