John Collom’s Oasis on the Crest of Point Loma

by on February 21, 2020 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Patty Adams, past PLA Chair, and head of the Garden Awards program, presented this month’s award to Mr. Collom.

Editordude: Thanks to the PLA newsletter, John Collom has publicly re-emerged. It’s been 45 years but I remember him well from the early and mid-1970s in Ocean Beach. John was very active in the early days of the urban planning battles OB was having with the city and developers. Plus, he was active in the formation of the OB Community Planning Group – which pushed the city to allow OB to have its very own democratic elections for a community planning board.

By Clark Anthony / Point Loma Association Newsletter

“You’ll love John’s place!” says a neighbor. “His yard is like a park. You can’t even see the house from the street.”

John Collom calls himself an “average boy, growing up in Ocean Beach in the 1940s.” Fast forward 25 years, and he says, “One can’t imagine how excited I was when I bought a house in 1973, in the same neighborhood in which I grew up!”

The bank wouldn’t make a loan on the “run-down house (shack)”, but they did grant one on the property. Since that day, John has used the property – 7,000 square feet – to garden and create.

His approach is, “plant anything familiar and everything with no knowledge.”

Collect and create is part of the fun. Here is a grotto, crafted one piece at a time by John and friends, old and young.

A main theme of the property is palm trees.

“He has attractive Hedycscepe, Roystonea, Pritchardias and a very nice Livistona saribus.  And, there’s lots of cycads, some mature and in cone.”

That’s not us talking. It’s the Palm Society of California. They presented an award, while meeting at John’s garden in 2013.

Here is John (in the middle) 40 years ago, with some of his Peninsula buddies celebrating summer and rockin’ short shorts.

In 1984, John took a year’s leave from teaching at Coronado Middle School. He and friends worked to build a small house, and a big garage with a sundeck.

Amidst the greenery, is an artist’s studio, where John’s companion creates her popular paintings.

The sunny, calm day we visited, light classical music wafted from the studio across the garden. We wanted to stay.

Considering the accolades he’s received from prestigious groups, we are very pleased he accepted and displays our humble token.

In addition to green growing things, other treasures are tucked into the landscape.

John Collom’s paradise is on the crest of the Peninsula, at 4370 Santa Monica Avenue.

Thank you, sir, for your labor of love. And congratulations on the special oasis you have created!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie February 22, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Sweet home and garden you have cultivated. I am sure it brings joy to you and your neighbors :-)


Doug Blackwood February 24, 2020 at 8:10 pm

Living art: what beauty to behold: way to go John!


Mellon March 22, 2020 at 10:03 pm

While I was a lifeguard at Ocean Beach in the 50’s I never worried about John in the water. He had a strong smooth stroke and was a leader amongst the amazing young boys that made the beach an important part of their youth.


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