Errea House garden dedication ceremony
June 11, 2022
The Errea House garden is officially back on the job. On May 28 a dedication ceremony was held where the garden's story was told and thanks were given to those who helped bring the garden to life.
When the volunteers at the Tehachapi Heritage League organization learned that property where the former garden was planted was purchased and would be used commercially, they didn't know what they would do. While they wanted to buy the property, the for-sale sign was up for less than 24 hours. This left the Errea House with no garden. Thankfully, right next door, there was an empty dirt lot and the owner, Big Sky Corporation, was kind enough to donate the land to the Errea House.
Volunteers labored over the gifted lot. Charles White, the president of the Tehachapi Heritage League, took down the big brick wall separating the Errea House from the lot, moving every brick until none were left. Other volunteers moved hundreds of rocks, plants and weeds to clear the area. You can see the rocks that were taken from the property at the back of the garden held within a metal cage. They also spent weeks to dig holes and brought in and used 2,800 pounds of sand, 7,000 pounds of dirt, 1,000 paver blocks and 78 concrete blocks, all to create the garden you see today.
One of these volunteers is Mary Cunningham. Mary is an excellent gardener with years of experience behind her. She can take you around the garden and tell you the name and history of every plant there. Mary didn't start volunteering until, as she puts it, "I attended a board meeting and all of a sudden I'm head gardener." We should all be glad she did; the garden is prospering and has made a full comeback. Mary has even planted grapes, just like there were in the old garden. Her inspiration for selecting the plants that would be in the garden came from, well, the plants that decided they wanted to be there. She also created a living garden museum to match the living museum inside. Mary wants people to walk into a garden that feels lived in.
Another key player in getting the garden to come to life is Jon Hammond. Jon worked tirelessly to dig holes, clear the area and create the patio in the garden. The Tehachapi Heritage League requested the patio space so they could hold events, such as the dedication ceremony, and Jon made sure to create an accessible area for all.
The patio and walkways are all ADA compliant, allowing those with disabilities to fully enjoy the beauty of the garden. Jon built a handrail created from native Tehachapi oaks. The handrail is special because Jon did not cut down any trees to create it, but merely used their limbs. It was very important to Jon to keep the trees he used living.
When entering the garden you will spot a bird feeder that looks just like the Errea House. This bird feeder was hand carved by Tehachapi's very own Don Kortes. He is a World War II veteran and worked at NASA for most his life. He is an avid wood carver and donates something hand crafted to the museum every year. Don is in his 90s and his time on this earth shows in his talent.
The museum docents hope you visit the new Errea House Garden. They want the public to fully enjoy all the work they have put toward creating an open, beautiful space. Visit http://www.tehachapimuseum.org for more information about the museum and garden. You can visit the Errea House and garden at 311 S. Green Street in Downtown Tehachapi.