Category Archives: NON-FLOWERING PLANTS

All Is Not Lost!

Mahalo to those of you who have sent condolences about my drought-ridden garden! I have a tendency to get discouraged, and wonder if we will ever get rain. It looks like I’ll need to order my fifth load of water for the catchment tank this next week, unless we get a heavy rain in the meantime (which doesn’t look likely).

Mostly it’s been my vegetable garden that has suffered. I can’t seem to get enough water on them, no matter how hard I try. My attempt to conserve water for personal use (like bathing, flushing, and cooking) means I can’t water as often or as deep as I’d like. What my veggies need is a nice overhead soaking from the skies. Anyone know how to teach me to do a rain dance out there??

All is not lost, however. Like the new sprout at the bottom of my red ti plant above, there is still life. For some strange reason, my flowers are doing well. There is just enough of a mist occasionally to keep my brilliant nasturtiums blooming and spreading.

The geraniums don’t seem to need as much water as other plants. In fact, these magenta ivy geraniums are going crazy. I need to do a “dead head” job on them, but they are a gorgeous spot of color from my kitchen window.

The pikake blooms are sweet smelling and provide a nice contrast to the magenta behind them.

I’ve tried to pick my figs regularly, even though I only get one or two a week. They are a little morsel of flavor. Perhaps someday I’ll get enough to actually make some fig jam! I was about a day too late to pick these two. The birds got there first.

One plant that doesn’t need much watering and seems to keep growing during this drought is the tillandsia cyanea (Pink Quill), part of the Bromeliad family. Mine are all full of the pink brachts with tiny purple flowers. Locally, many call this “Kamehameha’s Paddles.”

Most everything that is in a pot seems to have fared much better, but even then they need a constant watching. I have two of these cardoon (also called artichoke thistle). It is a relative of the Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) and is grown for its stem, which I assume is cooked up for eating. I’ve never grown this before so it will be an interesting experiment. Does anyone know if the thistle can be eaten like a regular artichoke?

These four basils grown in pots are doing well. They are purple basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, and sweet basil. They are right outside my kitchen door for handy use. The basil I planted in the ground was eaten by birds before I even had a chance to cover them with netting. Fast and hungry critters, they are!

This broad-leaf sage is doing quite well in a pot. I transplanted it from the ground in order to keep it going. It was starting to die in the ground, but has made an amazing come-back.

This little society garlic is in a pot for now. I may move it to the ground somewhere once the rains come.

Plants like hibiscus and geraniums don’t have much trouble surviving.

The lime tree was taken out of a large pot and put into the ground a couple months ago, and it’s doing well. There are already new blossoms on it. I tripled the number of drips going to it since the palms and bromeliads (on the same drip system) didn’t need as much.

I planted several stems of this purple flower and those have taken root quite well. They are now providing me with lovely blooms. Many friends say they have this plant, but don’t know the name of it. If anyone can tell me, please write!

This was another twig given to me. There was a bunch of this growing in Monty’s and Bob’s garden that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Bob called it “Jessup” but I haven’t been able to find anything about it on Google. I keep getting sent to people and places, but not to a plant. Another one that I don’t know. Any suggestions?

Of course, I find it impossible to kill my red chard. It tastes so good in a quick stir-fry with garlic and olive oil. For every leaf I pick, two more come up! A small patch of this keeps me in good greens.

This poha (Cape Gooseberry) is growing quite well, too. I’ve been saving up some of the berries to plant so I can get more bushes. I just had a bowl of poha ice cream in downtown Kona this past week. Absolutely wonderful!

The leaves on this petite orchid don’t look healthy, but the delightful blooms (less than an inch across) are poking out to be admired.

This tri-color stromanthe is managing to survive. I love the three colors of this striking plant.

At last, these three donkey tails found a home in hanging planters right outside my dining room window. They sat on my front steps for over a year, so some of them are not hanging down as straight as they would ordinarily. They have not needed much water to keep growing. Maybe as they get longer and heavier, they will straighten out.

Out of all the seeds I planted of this Thai hot pepper, only two survived. I gave one to a friend as a gift, and this one I’ll keep. Last year, I got dozens of peppers from one plant and since only one or two of these tiny peppers are more than enough for a good hot flavor, one plant is probably enough. I’ll put this in a larger pot next week.

I have about six or seven of these seeds for a Sago Palm (Cycad) that were harvested by a friend on Maui. They had to be soaked, then stripped, and planted on their sides, half-way submerged in soil. They are starting to split and this one is even showing a bit of green. They are very slow growing, so maybe my grandchildren will see a plant from these seeds.

This is an autograph tree given to me by a colleague. It has been growing nicely, but you can see that something bigger than a bug (probably the mouflin sheep) has been taking huge bites out of the leaves. Animals are looking for anything they can find that might provide them with a little moisture.

One triumphant story is the cauliflower. Just a few weeks ago, I went out to find the leaves stripped down to the center vein. Most people have agreed that it is more than likely the caliche pheasants. I continued to water them, wondering if they would revive. Voila! They have huge leaves again and just might make it. I’ll try to put something over them so the caliche won’t get them again.

So that’s the latest from the lava field. My posts have slowed down a bit lately, but each fall semester, I teach five college courses. That takes up most of my spare writing time. Once I’m back into a good rhythm of school, I’ll do better.

A hui hou!

Gardening From A to Z

Two of my favorite landscapers (Bob and Monty) invited a group of us “tree huggers” to come tour their garden. Since the land on their property is much like that of Ocean View, I gathered lots of how-to ideas on what to grow and what not to grow.

Their elevation is about the same as mine (2300 feet), same rocky lava ground, with perhaps a little more rainfall than I receive, although everyone is experiencing the drought now. Even without much rain this year, my first impression of their acreage was very tropical, what mainlanders picture as being “Hawai`i.”

Since I have said this post is about gardening from A to Z, I suppose I’d better start with A. The rest of the alphabet will be mixed up, however, and maybe I’ll end up at Z!

I love these large deep blue Agapanthus, shown here in front of Stromanthe. The Agapanthus in my garden is smaller and more of a baby blue.

The guys have concentrated their efforts on saving the native Hawai`ian trees, like this tall ‘Ohe Makai by their gate. Like many of the Hawai`ian natives, this particular tree is on the endangered list.

A couple of other native plants they have growing are the Ulei or Hawaiian Rose . . .

. . . and the Hala Pepe.

According to Wikipedia, there are seven native Hawaiian hibiscus species. The striking native white hibiscus is one of those.

Monty’s primary interest seems to be the palms. Soft paths through the palms were everywhere.

I lost track of how many varieties of palms we saw. It seemed like we walked for miles through palm groves.

What rests below the top layer of rocks is one of the factors we all deal with here. If the drainage is stopped by a solid layer of lava, plants don’t grow well. Of those palms planted at the same time, some are quite tall, and others look like they have never grown, due to this layer that hinders root growth.

This Fishtail Palm could be one of the largest of its kind. They are rapid growers and intimidate all the other palms.

No tropical garden is complete without its anthurium plants. . .

. . . or ginger . . .

. . . or banana. This particular banana is not common. (Dare I say it’s “rare”?) It puts out two stalks of bananas each time. If you look closely, you can see them. Even the keiki (babies) that come up after the mama plant has died have the double growth.

Bob tells the story of them going to a nursery in Pahoa to buy a rhododendron, and came home with 39 of them! He said to place the plant on top of the lava, then mound cinder around it. The roots will go down between the big rocks and the small feeder roots will spread out into the cinder. I’m going to try (just) one, I think.

Spots of color were scattered throughout the acreage.

Tucked here and there were other familiar plants, such as donkey tail, ti plants, butterfly bush, and stromanthe.

We saw a few familiar plants in a variety that weren’t as typical as what we have in our own gardens, like this tri-colored jade and variegated monstera.

There were several healthy specimens of staghorn fern.

Various protea are usually found in our tropical gardens, like these banksia (not in bloom at this time), king and pincushion proteas shown here.

For me, one of the most stunning flowers was the passion flower, not the same as the lilikoi we normally have growing.

It seems everyone is suffering from either drought, effects of vog, or critters like rats, sheep, pigs, caliche pheasants. A few veggies are still producing here.

I particularly loved the delicate little “society garlic.” I was given a few small bulbs to bring home and plant. The flower can be tossed into a salad and the flavor is heavenly. My car probably still smells like garlic (not an unpleasant odor for me)!

Bob said his primary passion is xeriscaping, which is designed to reduce the amount of water generally needed for growth. That means succulents and other drought-resistant plants. I have some of these in my own garden, and I plan to do more.

At the entryway to their home are these lovely cycads, both male and female. Need I point out which is which? It’s the biggest one, of course. (smile)

I started this post with A=Agapanthus. Even though this bromeliad is called “tiger-striped bromeliad, I’ll pretend it’s a Z=Zebra-striped bromeliad to keep with the alphabet theme. (Don’t tell on me!)

A touch of serenity concludes the tour.

Enjoy this slideshow for more pictures than I could include in this post, and for individual shots of those plants I’ve made into a collage.

Click here to view the slideshow. If it takes you to a web page instead of the slide show, click on “slideshow” in the upper left hand corner.

A hui hou!

August 2010 Update

GARDEN CLUBBERS
GARDEN CLUBBERS

(photo courtesy of Charles Tobias)

 

This particular post was published exactly one year ago! It’s a “remember when” rather than “how it is,” I’m afraid. You see, I didn’t think my garden was doing much last year, but all the beautiful things you see here are no longer in existence.

Ka’u District, the part of the Big Island of Hawai`i where I live, has been having a terrible drought. No amount of extra soil, watering or drip system is helping things to grow. Even critters (not bugs) are chewing what little bit has been growing in order to get a bit of moisture.

So I decided to post this “August 2009 Update” to get back a little hope that growing food and flowers in this lava is possible. Looking through the pictures and remembering helps me to realize how harsh this environment can be. The rains must surely come soon!

So here is the post from one year ago:

The July 2009 meeting of our Ocean View Garden Club was at my place. I told them I was definitely a work in progress and not a show place (yet)! They all wanted to see what was growing on my acre because they’d read my blog and seeing a garden that was not finished gave them hope. This post is my monthly catch-up with what’s going on here.

At my front door is this hanging fuschia.

 

Just below that is my cluster of orchid plants. Here is the latest bloom poking a head through the leaves.

 

As I stand on my front stoop and look out, this is what I see.

 

Here it is when I step down and look at these plants from another angle.

 

These are the Atom Gladiolas. The description from Old House Gardens states that it is a “brilliant red cooled by the finest edging of silver.” They are smaller than most glads and they provide a bright spot of color against my gray/black lava.

 

I cropped out the Spic and Span Glad from one of the photos above so you could see the difference in color. This is closer to the normal size of gladiola and runs from coral to pink. Both the Atom and the Spic/Span glads are heirloom bulbs dating from 1946. It’s too bad that the blooms don’t last longer.

 

Let’s walk on around to the right side of the house and look at my small beds of veggies. The sugar snap peas are full of blooms, and I’ve gotten a few pods to add to salads. You can see a piece of my patch of mustard greens.

 

I have several of these Thai hot peppers that will give me something to toss into my hot Thai cooking! If you’ve seen the little firey hot peppers in a Thai dish, that’s what I have here. It takes a mighty brave soul to bite into those with haste!

 

One of my students gave me a pot with a macadamia nut seedling. I was afraid it wouldn’t make it at first, but suddenly new leaves started to shoot out. I’ll give it a fair chance to make it before I transfer it out of the pot.

 

Walking back toward the shed, I have arugula and tomatoes, string beans and okra. I’m making salads with the arugula, but the tomatoes only have blooms so far. There are a few tiny beans that are in the process of becoming bigger beans. Here are a few pods of okra I’ve harvested. I toss a few of these in with whatever I’m cooking up in the skillet.

 

In the patio area I have beets growing, but not as many as I’d like to see. I need to buy more seeds for a fresh planting. These coffee berries will eventually turn bright red and I’ll be able to harvest them. How exciting to see these green berries. I hope I can get a pot of coffee out of my own trees.

 

Here is the Little Beeswings Dahlia that produced a few small blooms.

 

I think my favorite dahlia is the Prince Noir. I hope that eventually I’ll get a whole bush full of these gorgeous blooms.

 

Recently, a colleague gave me several bags of bromeliad and one has actually bloomed for me already!

 

Of course, I would love a whole yard of daylilies. Some of the ones I’ve planted have started to bloom.

 

The pikake plant is full of fragrant blossoms, about three times the number just since I took this photo a couple weeks ago.

 

I was given a small shoot of this plant. People have given it several names, but after looking on the internet, I’m still not sure what it is. If anyone can give me a link to what it is, I’d appreciate it. It’s been called a “stick plant,” but I’m sure that’s not it. It has also been called “zigzag plant,” but it doesn’t look exactly like the pictures on the web.

 

It seems like there’s always something waiting to be planted – like these bags of plants given by a friend.

 

And like most gardeners, I have so much more to be done. Like any addict, I keep buying more seeds than I’ll ever be able to plant!

A hui hou!

 

Hawai`i Tropical Botanical Garden

Last Saturday, a small group from the Ocean View Garden Club visited the Hawai`i Tropical Botanical Garden just north of Hilo on Onomea Bay. As long as I have lived here, I was not aware this existed. It’s a wonderful place to take visitors and I definitely will go back myself! Admission is $15 per person and there is a discount for a group of 10 or more. We took lunch with us and ate at a picnic table by one of the inlets.

I have taken pictures of the signs that tell the history of the garden. Be sure to read them carefully. I apologize for not being able to give you the sound of the ocean in the background as you amble along the path.

I usually go through and pick the best 10 to 15 best pictures out of a group, but this time, I will not do that. I have put them all into a slide show so you can look through them at your leisure, and pretend that you are walking through the garden.

From the back of the map:

Founded by Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse in 1978, the Garden was opened to the public in 1984. The Founders purchased seventeen acres on the ocean and spent six years hand-clering the impenetrable tropical jungle to create the winding trails and outstanding beauty you will experience as you walk through the Garden. They later purchased an additional twenty acres and donated the entire thirty-seven acres to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, establishing a non-profit nature preserve.

I have included a few pictures of the inside of the gift shop, as well as a glance at the map and trail guide we were given when we entered. My neck is sore from looking up so much. Plants that we may have only seen in a much smaller size in our own gardens are monsters here. Even if you would like to, you don’t need to know the names of all the plants in order to enjoy their beauty.

Follow me as I take you down this path into a garden of delights! Click here to view the slide show.

A hui hou!

Lei Making

 

Instead of always looking up, sometimes it’s fun to look down, especially when you are looking down on a group of people making ti leaf leis.

May Day in Hawai`i is also known as Lei Day. Making and wearing a lei is such a soft, gentle, and loving way to honor someone.

In order to make the leis from ti leaves, you need to press with a warm iron to soften them. Then using your big toe as a holder, you begin twisting and pulling on the leaf. With each leaf, as you add a new leaf, you can leave a little point sticking out as you twist.

When everything is long enough, twist the ends together to form a circle. Tuck a few flowers into the twisting ti leaves and place it around someone’s neck with a kiss on the cheek.

Traditionally, ti plants are placed around a home to bring good luck.

A hui hou!

Addendum to “Palms Revisited”

 

This morning’s post mentioned a growth on the triangle palms of a friend. Flowers form on this branched growth, which is called an “inflorescense.” I found out about this here but there is much more to be found on the subject. This particular inflorescense has now grown to five feet long! I suppose he can expect flowers soon.

 

Writing a blog can be so educational!

A hui hou!

Palms Revisited

 

Last year on Palm Sunday weekend, I wrote a post about a variety of palms in honor of Palm Sunday.

One of those palms was the triangle palm (Neodypsis decaryi) that I’ve been planting on either side of my driveway. A friend on Maui has several triangles that have grown to be a decent size.

The triangle above recently started sending out some sort of growth. Would you call it a flower?

 

Here is another view. What would you call this?

 

Probably of more interest to people who do not live in Hawai`i is the banana palm (Musa SPP) and the process of growing bananas. Those delicious potassium-filled fruits you buy in the grocery store aren’t nearly as tasty as the ones right off the tree.

Like most fruits, it starts with the flower. As the flower unfolds, tiny little green bananas begin to form.

 

Gradually, fingerling bananas begin to grow and peep out from between the petals of the flower.

 

In late spring, they are beginning to look like real bananas, but still very green.

 

By November, this beautiful bunch is ready to be cut down. Need I tell you they can get incredibly heavy? Sometimes it takes several people to carry the bunch to a shed where they will slowly ripen. If left on the tree to ripen, the bugs get them before we do.

 

Yes, it looks like they are growing “upside down,” but that’s the way they grow on the tree. Think about this the next time you buy a nice “hand” of bananas.

After the bananas are harvested, the old tree is cut down, but several new ones have already started to grow. More bananas will be on the way shortly.

A hui hou!

Lava Homestead Update

 

I’ve thought of the succulents and snapdragons that are all over this acre as really nothing more than weeds. Why? Because I didn’t plant them, they sprout up unbidden, then grow without anyone’s help, and they aren’t something I can eat. But I realized just how much they add to my landscape when I caught this shot of them. I think you’ll agree they are beautiful.

As we move into the last month of the year, I thought I would catch you up on what’s happening in my lava garden. It’s been about two months since my last update.

One of the most exciting changes lately has been my coffee berries – they are turning red! I may only get enough out of this first crop to make a small pot of coffee, of course. But I’m sure it will be the tastiest cup of coffee I’ve ever had.

 

I picked the ones that were ripe enough. Now I need to get the pulp off the beans, dry them, roast them, grind them, and drink!

 

The red mustards I planted several weeks ago are beginning to look like something edible.

 

I’ve had trouble keeping my cat (Kaimana) out of my raised beds, so there are large patches where nothing is coming up. He likes to scratch around and make himself comfortable.

Is that pot big enough to sleep in?Is that pot big enough to sleep in?

 

At the same time that I planted the red mustard seeds, I also put in another batch of beets. They will give me several good meals this winter.

 

With the help of one of my students, I planted some ginger cuttings she had brought. It took them a long time to root, but now they are showing good growth and soon I will transplant them to a permanent location.

 

It’s been almost a year since I planted this red scarlet chard, and it’s still going strong. I eat off of it occasionally, stir-frying it in olive oil with lots of garlic. When the leaves are still young and small, I sometimes cut it up and put it into a salad without cooking it.

 

Like the chard, my arugula plants just keep producing. I love fresh arugula salads. A friend said, “A little arugula goes a long way,” but I like the spicy bitterness more than most folks do.

 

I’m not sure if these papaya plants are going to do much at this elevation, but I keep nursing them along. They were also a gift during this past summer.

 

My garden club has a plant gift exchange at Christmas. The gift I received last year was this pikake plant, now full of buds and blooms.

 

I had a lovely gardenia bush that suffered during the worst of the sulfur dioxide fumes from the volcano. Today, it is growing back and producing a few buds.

 

I put out a bunch of cuttings of a purple-flowered bush (don’t know the name of it), and every one of them is showing great signs of growth. When it finally blooms, I’ll find out what it is and post more pictures. At this point, it’s great fun to see something grow from a bare stem stuck in the soil.

 

I have what I call a smoky bush (don’t know the real name of that, either) that is showing leaves from another piece of twig put in the ground. These two plants (red and purple) seem to take off right away with a little soil and water.

 

Still another plant that seems to root and grow profusely without much care is this magenta geranium. I’d put in just a couple of small cuttings from a friend, and now they are filling in the blank spots, giving color to an otherwise gray landscape.

 

The lilikoi plants that grow against my shed were eaten back by fuzzy black caterpillars. Now they are showing new growth. Unless someone gives me a bunch of lilikoi, I won’t be making more lilikoi butter this year!

 

The brugmansia were in need of some drastic cutting back. Once I did that, they started sprouting all sorts of new leaves and they are looking twice as healthy.

 

The poinsettias take over the island at this time of year. Soon I’ll have a chance to get more pictures of those. When they are mingled in with other colors, and especially the white flowering shrubs, they are a breathtaking sight. Some of the “Snow on the Mountain” are blooming on my property.

This plant is sometimes called Snow-on-the-Mountain, and is closely related to poinsettia, crotons, and the other members of the Euphorbia plant family. It is a native to the Pacific Islands. See the full article here.

 

We’ve had little bits of rain here and there, not enough to overflow the tank, but to keep it at a decent level. That’s a critical element in the grand scheme of life here on my little homestead. If it keeps up like that over the winter months, I’ll be in good shape. At least we are not worried about snow storms here!

A hui hou!

“This land is our land . . .”

SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS
click here for larger image
SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

. . . from the redwood forest . . .

 

Who among us doesn’t remember singing along and feeling proud of our countryside? It was an era of protesting the educational system, the government, the war, the “establishment” in general, and anything else we could protest, but we loved our land – the unique geography that makes up these United States.

In fact, there is a movement to change our National Anthem to something more sing-able. I cast my vote for “This Land Is Your Land.”

During the past few weeks while I was in California, I re-visited the coastal range where I’d spent so much time during the 70s and 80s. Some of those years were spent in the San Francisco Bay Area and some were along the Central Coast of San Luis Obispo County, but it’s all fairly similar.

Winding through the streets from Palo Alto toward the Pacific Ocean, I felt the same sense of freedom that I had so many decades ago. Much has changed, but the terrain will remain the same forever, I think.

Because I was at the wheel, I couldn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to, so mostly they exist only in my mind’s eye. I was able to stop and get a few shots, however.

One of the stopping points along the crest was the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. This sign warns visitors what to do in case they encounter a mountain lion.

WINDY HILL OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
click here for larger image
WINDY HILL OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

 

Beyond the sign, a path led into the preserve area. The sky was just as beautiful as I remember it. We used to call the hills “golden,” even though they were basically just “brown.” I still love those golden rolling slopes.

ON THE TRAIL
click here for larger image
ON THE TRAIL

 

This preserve of 1,312 acres includes 12.2 miles of trail. Please check this link to read more about it.

MAP OF THE PRESERVE
click here for larger image
MAP OF THE PRESERVE

 

If you carefully cross the road from the parking area, you get a spectacular view of the Peninsula.

VIEWS ACROSS THE PENINSULA
click here for larger image
VIEWS ACROSS THE PENINSULA

 

Another stop along the drive was by a restaurant that was closed for the day. It was explained to me about the “second-growth” redwoods. As you can see here, there is a cluster of trees around a bare piece of ground. The original old redwood was either logged out over 150 years ago or could have been hit by lightning. These new “baby trees” sprouted up around where the mother tree had been.

MORE SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS
click here for larger image
MORE SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

The opening photo gives another perspective on a grove of second-growth trees. These magnificent trees may be relatively young, but they still take my breath away – and make me proud that they are a part of my country.

VIEW THROUGH THE REDWOODS
click here for larger image
VIEW THROUGH THE REDWOODS

 

The tops of the trees just seem to reach toward the sky for an eternity!

REACHING FOR THE SKY
REACHING FOR THE SKY

 

When I stopped for gas at a crossroads, I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a shot of Alice’s Restaurant! This is not the restaurant that inspired Arlo Guthrie’s song of protest against war. In fact, it is the other way around – this restaurant took its name from the song. The original “Alice’s Restaurant” was in Massachusetts. It seemed appropriate somehow, to include this bit of nostalgia here.

ALICE'S RESTAURANT
click here for larger image
ALICE’S RESTAURANT

 

We had lunch at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero – a busy spot where some of the very finest food can be found. I started with a bowl of Cream of Green Chili Soup, a dish I’m going to experiment with making at home. It was heavenly, but there was no way they were going to give me the recipe! I followed the soup with a fried oyster roll. It’s hard to say which was better! A dessert of warm Ollieberry pie with ice cream was shared with my friend.

Even though I live in “Paradise,” there is a lot about California I miss. What I do not miss is the traffic, which has gotten worse since I left. I’ve become too accustomed to a more casual lifestyle. Still, I intend to keep visiting whenever I get the chance.

Today, we could write more verses to add to our song that would include our island state of Hawai`i, or our northernmost state of Alaska. All fifty states are worth going to see! If you have never been to California, it’s worth braving the crowds and traffic to see a special part of our incredible country. “This land was made for you and me.”

You might enjoy watching a video of a this modern-day song that reminds us of what our country is and what it stands for on this Fourth of July Weekend.

 

A hui hou!

 

A Country Haven

GATE TO CONNIE'S HAVEN
click here for larger image
GATE TO CONNIE’S HAVEN

 

It’s hard to believe that only twelve miles away is a hideaway this lush and fertile! On twenty acres of volcanic land that has decomposed, my friend Connie has created a delicious and peaceful botanical garden.

My friend, Velvet and I were invited to come and take pictures. Once we were through the gate shown above, we walked along this beautiful roadway.

LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY
click here for larger image
LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY

 

All along each side were many plants and flowers. It is obvious a great deal of loving care has gone into developing her acreage. Tucked into the ferns were several of the colorful Stromanthe sanguinea.

STROMANTHE
click here for larger image
STROMANTHE

 

Many were plants that we don’t commonly associate with brilliant or startling color, like this bromeliad with scarlet spotted leaves.

SCARLET BROMELIAD
click here for larger image
SCARLET BROMELIAD

 

Under thick foliage, we discovered hidden treasures like this Japanese lantern.

HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN
click here for larger image
HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN

 

I love looking back through the foliage and wondering what else is back there.

VIEW INTO THE FOREST
click here for larger image
VIEW INTO THE FOREST

 

Color keeps popping up everywhere.

MORE COLOR
click here for larger image
MORE COLOR

 

Even without color, most plants are striking and dramatic.

DRAMATIC GREENERY
click here for larger image
DRAMATIC GREENERY

 

At one point, we stopped and looked back along the path. I would love to live at the end of this lane, hidden from the world.

LOOKING BACK
click here for larger image
LOOKING BACK

 

Finally, we reached Connie’s living space. In addition to the flowers, I’m always attracted to the figurines. This heavenly angel keeps watch over the flora and fauna.

ANGEL
click here for larger image
ANGEL

 

She is joined by the Buddha in protecting the property.

BUDDHA
click here for larger image
BUDDHA

 

I was stunned at the size and beauty of her yellow native Hawai`ian hibiscus. I found out that mine is from a cutting of this particular plant. Click on each of these small pictures to see a full-sized version.

 

This climbing Mandevilla vine gave me a great idea for my own property. It is a way to lift the color up off the ground and toward the sky.

CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE
click here for larger image
CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE

 

Here is a bit of whimsy.

DOGZILLA
click here for larger image
DOGZILLA

 

There are too many scenes of flowers and greenery to show individually. Please take time to look through this slideshow before continuing to read this post.

For a larger version of this slideshow, click here.

 

I’m also envious of this shade house. I don’t need shade on my property, because it rarely stays very sunny for any length of time, but a shade house makes it possible to keep many shade-loving plants together in one spot.

SHADE HOUSE
click here for larger image
SHADE HOUSE

 

Ideas for my own place kept coming to me throughout the morning we were at Connie’s. At the end of the day, what better place to enjoy a cup of tea and to survey your work?

A RESTING PLACE
click here for larger image
A RESTING PLACE

 

Another bit of information about Connie . . . she is the owner of TLC, a business providing indoor plant services. If you want to contact her, leave a note in the comments and I’ll let her know you are interested.

For the next two weeks, my brother Hilton will be the guest poster. He lives in Florida and writes a travel/food blog about the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area. Please visit to see some of the gardens of Florida.

A hui hou!

 

Palms of Spring

COCONUT PALM
click here for larger image
COCONUT PALM

 

Just a couple weeks ago on March 11, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota held a celebration in honor of three separate religious holidays falling on the same day. The three holidays were Jewish Purim (celebrating the story of Queen Esther), Hindu Holi (celebrating several Hindu myths and springtime), and Muslim Mawlid al-Nabi (celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad).

Now we have moved into April and there are other religious festivals to celebrate. In the Jewish tradition, this is near the time of Pesach, or what we commonly call Passover. This year, it begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 8 and commemorates their Exodus from Egypt out of slavery.

In the Christian tradition, today is Palm Sunday in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphant ride into the city of Jerusalem. The people expected him to liberate them from the oppressive government, so they were excited to see him and spread palm branches on the road before him. It is in honor of that day that this post focuses on palms.

The opening photo is looking up into a tall coconut palm in a friend’s yard over in Na`alehu, loaded with coconuts. I just hoped none would fall on me as I was taking the picture.

The tall palms all over Hawai`i are beautiful, although not native. Here is one in the middle of the Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oahu.

ALA MOANA PALMS
click here for larger image
ALA MOANA PALMS

 

When I visited some of the Hawai`ian sacred sites in Hilo with a group of students last month, I took these pictures of the tall palms scattered around the area.

SACRED SITE IN HILO
click here for larger image
SACRED SITE IN HILO

 

PALMS AT SACRED SITE
click here for larger image
PALMS AT SACRED SITE

 

MORE SACRED SITE PALMS
click here for larger image
MORE SACRED SITE PALMS

 

Then we have the banana palm trees. Here is a small one in a friend’s yard. I have a few but they are still way too small to even think about bearing.

BANANA PALM
click here for larger image
BANANA PALM

 

This little coconut palm in my yard has a long way to go to match the one on top of this post! It has been badly damaged by the wind and sulfur dioxide.

SMALL COCONUT PALM
click here for larger image
SMALL COCONUT PALM

 

I was given this saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) in a large pot by another friend.

SAW PALMETTO
click here for larger image
SAW PALMETTO

 

Since then I have taken it out of the pot and planted it in the ground.

SAW PALMETTO IN GROUND
click here for larger image
SAW PALMETTO IN GROUND

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been putting in triangle palms (Neodypsis decaryi) to line my driveway. Here are a couple of photos to show you. Maybe in about five years or so, they’ll be closer to the size I want. This shot was taken before my driveway was put in.

TRIANGLES ALONG DRIVEWAY
click here for larger image
TRIANGLES ALONG DRIVEWAY

 

This shows the cinder dumped onto the driveway, with a friend and his son on the bobcat, ready to grade it down for me.

CLOSER VIEW OF TRIANGLES
click here for larger image
CLOSER VIEW OF TRIANGLES

 

This gift triangle was already about three times as big when I got it as the others I have. Such a prize!

MY LARGEST TRIANGLE
click here for larger image
MY LARGEST TRIANGLE

 

Then I was given four small triangles to put into the ground. One has made it, but the other three are still waiting to be planted. Someday I’ll get around to it – along with all my other projects!

SMALL TRIANGLES READY TO PLANT
click here for larger image
SMALL TRIANGLES READY TO PLANT

 

Perhaps someday, mine will be as big as the one a friend has on Maui. He planted these in 2003.

MAUI TRIANGLE
click here for larger image
MAUI TRIANGLE

 

A post on palms wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the “Sago Palm,” which isn’t even a palm at all! I think people call it a “palm” because of the way the branches look, but it is really a cycad. Perhaps I’ll do a post on that another day. Here is one that belongs to my friend on Maui.

SAGO PALM
“SAGO PALM”

 

If you are interested in knowing more about the various religious holidays I’ve mentioned, check out one of the following websites. I highly recommend this Interfaith calendar that lists all the religious festivals. The Religious Tolerance site is also very informative.

Time to go water my palms!

Down the Garden Path


new garden path
click here to see larger image
NEW GARDEN PATH


One of my Christmas gifts was a gift card for Ace Hardware. I decided to start working on the area that I look at from my kitchen window. I already have several red smoky bushes (that’s my name for them), several banana trees and several coffee trees.
So I took my gift card and bought enough bags of black cinder to start a path through the plants. I plan to add ground covers and several other plants that can fill in to give me something beautiful to see. It may take a few more bags of cinder to complete the path.


another view of the path
click here to see larger image
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE PATH


Another plant I’ve put out there is this year’s Christmas poinsettia. There is a small poinsettia left over from many years ago that hasn’t done much the past couple of years.

E Komo Mai – Welcome!

Kaimana, my wonderful friend, loves the outdoors. He’s gotten out by accident only a few times, but he always found his way back home. His paws were always scraped raw when he returned, not being accustomed to the harshness of the lava. Now he mostly sits to watch the world go by and fantasize about a life of freedom.

When I first moved in, the lonely monstera you can see through the screen was gracing my entryway, compliments of the previous owner. I added a turtle pot at the bottom of the steps. Now Mr. Turtle lives over on the other side. I’m not sure what’s growing in it here. A friend gave me a few cuttings of a ground cover that didn’t make it. He is empty as I write this, waiting for divine inspiration.

The monstera was eventually shifted down to the ground and I began searching for a way to add my own touch to the entry. On this next photo, you can see where I put the monstera.

You can also see the small Angel’s Trumpet trees growing from cuttings I put in. This name is shared with the closely related genus Datura. The Brugmansia genus is perennial and woody, the Datura species is herbaceous. Also, the Brugmansia has pendulous blooms while the Datura has more erect blooms. http://www.abads.net/ I’ve been calling what I have “Datura,” but seems I’m incorrect in that. Can anyone straighten me out? There are many beautiful trees of the Angel’s Trumpet here on the Big Island.

I was given cuttings of ti plants (Cordyline Terminalis), or ki in Hawai`ian. Ti or ki is grown in profusion around any Hawai`ian home to provide good luck and protection. http://www.hiloweb.com/webman/ti.html It has bushed out and grown even taller since I took this shot. I was amazed at how quickly they grew from simple eighteen-inch pieces of stalk. I put them into water with a rooting compound and within a very short time, I was able to put them into the ground.

I was given a large full basket of a variety of orchids, so I stuck that in the corner where the monstera had been on the front stoop. They are difficult to see here. Isn’t that a nice path going around the house?

This has definitely been a “work in progress.” As you can see, there was a lot of work to be done to make the entry more inviting.

The dark green lattice work I’ve started putting in around the lower portion of the house is a great improvement, don’t you think?

Little by little this acre of lava is being transformed, but I’m an impatient woman.