The day I visited the Solana Beach Coastal Rail Trail for the first time, I was also tipped off to a memorial garden for dogs who have passed away across the street. Talk about hidden beauty packed into one block! After my thrilled dog and I conquered the rail trail I went looking for the memorial garden.
I asked a local couple on their daily walk if they knew where the memorial garden was. They had never heard of it. Eventually they pointed me towards the Del Mar dog beach and said there’s a nice, little garden at the entrance but they had no clue it was a memorial for dogs. After they gave me the tip, I headed on towards the beach.
Sure enough, right at the entrance to dog beach, there is a beautiful garden PACKED with a variety of succulents and other beautiful, blooming plants. Upon closer inspection, I began to notice all the little mementos to dogs that have passed away.
There were dog statues, painted rocks with paw prints and names of pets, I even noticed a section where little gnomes live! Eventually I came across the plaque that said “Dog Beach Memorial”.
I couldn’t help but notice a small sign with a link to a GoFund Me. When I got home, I began my research on this place and hopefully to find out who was behind it all. Turns out the garden was created by one man, Jimmy Joe Gooding. He created this garden with his own free time and money for the community to appreciate and enjoy.
Reading his Gofund Me page, he writes that for many years he would wake up every morning and maintain this plot of land. He would sweep, pick up trash and do other minor tasks to help keep the entryway as clean and welcoming as possible. Awhile later, he began planting succulents and other plants to help fill in the gaps, putting in around $900 of his own money. At some point, the garden eventually became a tribute for fallen pets.
I guess Gooding recently came under fire with the city for creating this garden, as he planted non-natives and the requirements for that area are native species only. Thankfully the city is willing to work with him, but it’s going to require taking out a lot of the non-natives and planting native species in replacement. He aspires to plant flowering natives that will attract butterflies and hummingbird but this will come at quite an expense!
Any small donation you can make will help this dear man with the maintenance of this special garden. Just walking through it you can feel the love. Really pay attention to all the small details, as there are many!
It’s only a skipping stone away from the beach!
Gwen was Gooding.’s dog, who enjoyed going to the dog beach next door for the entire 10 years of her life:
All gone but not forgotten: