Occupying one city block in downtown Santa Barbara, this 4.6 acre memorial garden is located on the former site of artist Albert Herter’s El Mirasol mansion, later the El Mirasol hotel. In 1975, Mrs. Alice Keck Park purchased the property and gave it to the city for public use. She selected Elizabeth Kellam de Forest as the supervising landscape architect after consulting with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where de Forest worked for more than 30 years. In 1980 the park was dedicated and named in honor of Mrs. Park.
At her request, the garden design is informal in nature and designed for passive recreation. A noted horticulturist, de Forest created planting beds and a pond filled with plants chosen for their complimentary color and texture, while featuring a diverse botanical collection specializing in plants appropriate for the Santa Barbara region. Meandering, curvilinear paths carve out gardens rooms and lead to extensive lawns and picnic areas. A wooden gazebo overlooks the picturesque koi and turtle pond, which is planted with waterlilies and grasses. After several years of prolonged drought in the region, de Forest’s plant selections have been replaced with drought tolerant plant material.