Check out this demonstration garden next time you're near the Santa Monica Airport
The City of Santa Monica prides itself on forward thinking when it comes to the environment and sustainability. One example of an initiative they took was the demonstration garden at Airport Avenue. It is located across from the park and directly next to the restaurant, The Cloverfield.
If you find yourself in the area, you might want to check out these gardens. They aren't quite situated with the highest visibility. I think there is a decent amount of foot traffic of locals that use that street for going on walks. Aside from that, it feel like even the people using the restaurant about 200 feet away might not even realize it is there.
What I like most about these three gardens is how they demonstrate extremely tangible ideas that you can take home with you and implement in your own garden. Each creates a clearly defined sense of space. All of the paths use recycled concrete and are structured for permeability so water does not run off but is allowed to soak into the ground naturally. Shade is created by trees and the lines are all drawn really well with mixed understory plants.
The only thing that throws me is why the reliance on foreign plants? Each has a tribute or two to native plants, but are overwhelmingly non-native. The most puzzling example of this comes from the "Play" garden that uses the Eastern redbud, even while the "Entertain" garden has multiple Western redbuds. In spite of this, there are some wonderful examples of native plants mixed in, such as the amazing Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) with its stunning red bark.