Adios La Huerta

28 Mar


We meet the most wonderful people in our travels. These are the folks we worked with in the La Huerta Garden at the Santa Barbara Mission. For three months, every Wednesday we joined this group of dedicated volunteers  in building this living ethnobotanical garden.

As a sweet surprise the gardeners had a send-off lunch in the garden for us complete with thoughtful gifts and some song. The food was incredible.



As our 3-month project, Dana and I have been working on a special interpretive story garden telling the myths and history of the people of the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara. Native materials like rocks (and I mean big, heavy rocks) and plants and trees endemic to the islands are used to represent natural land forms, important historical sites and Chumash (native tribal) myth.

DSC09280The imaginative design will be used to explain the interrelationship between the mainland, the Santa Barbara Channel and the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa. These are the islands that lie in the Santa Barbara Channel between Point Conception to the north and Ventura to the south.


To give you an example of the creative used of native materials inherent in the project a sturdy cypress stump with a natural, hallowed-out heartwood, rot zone was used to anchor a small girth  ‘Portola’ Sycamore tree. (In photo above on left.) The Sycamore branch will be lassoed and stretched to form an arch. This arch will be used to tell the Chumash story of the mythical “Rainbow Bridge” the natives walked to reach the mainland and settle along the Santa Barbara Coast.

DSC09311Each object chosen for the garden has significance. For example the rock that represents Point Conception is from Point Conception. A native species of  Dudleya was relocated from the Channel Islands to live again at La Huerta.

DSC09315It has been engrossing to be part of an interpretive teaching project as each hole you dig and rock you move builds the story of the history of the region.DSC09287

We leave with a big thank you to Jerry and everyone in La Huerta who welcomed us and gave us the chance to work on this project. We made friends and left something of ourselves in Santa Barbara.

8 Responses to “Adios La Huerta”

  1. Neil Freer March 29, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    What a beautiful way to get stoned…………
    It’s easy: fine people easily identify and team up with fine people
    No symbols embedded to represent the horde of arrogant huge sharks that prowl the channel?
    See you soon

    • Jill March 29, 2014 at 4:53 am #

      We were thinking about Plaster of Paris fish but the material would not be endemic to the area. It is endemic to…that’s right…Paris.

      • Neil Freer March 29, 2014 at 5:38 am #

        it does not much like, really like, get too endemically adjusted to rain……….or water….but I have to assume that this garden will not be watered, sprinklered….dampened in any way because of the deep understanding that those fine people have of the water problems of CA?

      • Jill March 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

        Sort of…

  2. Nancy Oster March 28, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Have a safe trip back. I’ll miss seeing you.

    • Jill March 29, 2014 at 1:32 am #

      Thank you Nancy. It was so good to see you again.

  3. Derek March 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Not only did you leave something beautiful and informative behind in Santa Barbara, you’ve left something behind in my brain. I read your post and had to look up “ethnobotanical.” And here is what you’ve left me (via the internet):
    “….Ethnobotanists aim to document, describe and explain complex relationships between cultures and (uses of) plants, focusing primarily on how plants are used, managed and perceived across human societies. This includes use for food, clothing, currency, ritual, medicine, dye, construction, cosmetics and a lot more.[2] Richard Evans Schultes, called the “father of ethnobotany”,[3] explained the discipline in this way:
    Ethnobotany simply means […] investigating plants used by primitive societies in various parts of the world.[4]….”
    Looks like you’ve qualified for the pantheon.

    • Jill March 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      And that is just what the garden is and does. So satisfying…

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