Tag Archives: Local Gardens

Hawai`ian Flowers, Part 2

Last weeks’s post showed the color and drama orchids can bring to your trees. This week, I give you a tour of the inner workings of Hawaiian Flowers.

Marla has a small gift shop attached to the greenhouses where you can browse.

Walking from the gift shop into the greenhouses, you instantly realize you are in the tropics, and you want to take home one of each variety!

Many years ago, I took all the horticulture courses offered by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The smells and sights of greenhouses and workrooms bring back memories of that time. So for me, those are still the most exciting areas of any commercial enterprise.

The results from TLC and perfect growing conditions, however, also bring a particular kind of joy, as you will see in this slide show of Marla’s orchids in full bloom.

A hui hou!

Hawai`ian Flowers

In the part of the world where I grew up, an orchid meant you had a special date to the high school prom. And it was a big deal!

Now I live where orchids are grown everywhere and can become as rampant as weeds, yet I still am in awe at the abundance of plants and where they can grow. Maybe you are, too.

Just a couple miles from my home is Hawaiian Flowers, an incredible orchid farm that grew from a small hobby into a large facility. She claims it is the “Southernmost Orchid Farm in the US.” You can find her on Facebook as Hawaiian.Flowers. (Be sure to put the period between Hawaiian and Flowers!)

When our garden club went to visit, we walked through the acreage surrounding Marla’s home as well as through the greenhouses where she grows some of the most beautiful orchids you will ever see.

This slide show demonstrates how lush an orchid can grow in your trees. You might want to try this if you live in an area where there is no frost any time of the year. I bought a few from her and will try to recreate the same sort of garden.

Next week I’ll show more of the flowers, but this week I wanted to show you just how easy it is to grow orchids wherever the climate permits.
A hui hou!

Gardening As Art

One of my intentions since the beginning of this blog almost three years ago has been to show readers what some of our local residents have managed to create on their acreage, and what they are doing to make it livable as well as beautiful. If you want to see some of these past posts, go through the categories on the right hand column of this blog.

The Southern end of the Big Island of Hawaii is not exactly the luxurious tropical atmosphere most people envision when they think of Hawaii. Here, every bloom is nurtured and prized, every square inch is utilized as much as possible.

Many of my posts talk of the challenges we face when we try to garden on our a`a lava. It is a constant process of finding which plants will survive during drought or heavy rain, coping with toxic air full of sulfur dioxide from the volcano, sheltering our plants from the strong trade winds, and working with minimum soil that we (mostly) need to make ourselves out of compost.

Little by little, our lava beds can become works of art. Recently, our Ocean View Garden Club visited another local property that exemplifies the creativity that is possible here, in spite of harsh circumstances. Plant art, found art, junque art – all are at home here and work together to form an oasis of beauty.

Click here to view a slide show of what is possible when creative minds are put to work.

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!

Kele’s Garden

 

This past Saturday, our Big Island Self-Sustainability group (BISS) met to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a potluckat the home of one of the founding members, Kele, in Hilo. I love living in Ocean View, but I have to admit to more than a little envy when I see what can happen in a yard where there is actual soil and rain to help things grow.

These pictures are in order as I walked around the outside of his home. There were surprises with every step. I won’t try to give you the names of everything I saw, but most of you will recognize banana trees, and the amarylis in the foreground.

 

You might say that his entire garden is a banana grove.

 

 

Even with a house (and more flowering plants) on one side, the banana grove feeling remained.

 

The path curved down away from most of the bananas, guiding me around the corner of the house.

 

For those of you who are familiar with the tobacco plant, you might be surprised at the small size of the leaves on this specimen. Perhaps if it was in the ground instead of a pot, it would look more like the tobacco most of us know.

 

Oops! More bananas, plus some great-looking papayas!

 

These are ornamental bananas, a pretty pink, but not for eating!

 

And yet more bananas about ready for chopping off the tree.

 

Sometimes there are pieces of interest that are not growing.

 

I got a few ideas for how to handle some of my pots from Kele.

 

The bananas don’t seem to stop!

Here’s one of the striking spots of color.

 

A simply stunning display! Too bad I had to get a car in the background.

 

The bright blue ginger provides a colorful background for the salmon cannas.

 

And this takes me back to the driveway entrance to Kele’s home.

 

I had no idea that Betty Crocker offers landscape awards. Some of the community groups sponsor these awards here in Hawai`i and each year, they encourage local residents to nominate someone they believe has an unbelievable garden. There are four categories, and Kele won this year. He’ll be flying to Honolulu soon to accept the award. I think you’ll agree that his yard certainly deserves it.

Congratulations, Kele, and thank you for letting me share this beauty with my readers.

A hui hou!

Local Aquaponics

 

Our Ocean View Garden Club makes a tour of local gardens periodically. Last month, we visited La and Mike’s place where she has an extensive garden and he has started a thriving aquaponics system.

The tilapia live in this tank, the pipes carry the rich water to the plants.

 

 

Mike has also started a catfish pond here, but they are timid and don’t come out to have their picture taken.

 

There is a transition area between the aquaponics system and La’s vegetable garden.

 

Here you start to get a glimpse of the lush veggies and herbs.

 

 

It seems every garden has at least one Jackson.

 

La grows several patches of epazote, an herb she uses in her Thai dishes.

 

She also grows a number of Thai jalapenos. I brought home one to dry so I can plant the seeds.

 

I suppose these bunnies get the leftover veggies.

 

In December, 2009 I wrote a post about the system some friends started near the airport. You might like to refer back to that for other pictures.

If you are interested in starting your own aquaponics, check here for interesting information.

I took more pictures of this operation than I show here, so please watch this slideshow to see them.

For a larger version, click here.

A hui hou!

A Class Project

 

One of my ways of getting students out of their desk seats is to require a “gift to the community,” what we might call a service project. Some of them serve meals to the homeless, others help to clean up our beaches. Each team of students gets to choose what their project will be, then they share their photos of what they did with the class.

These two students helped one of our local schools by shoveling compost and working in the school garden. This collage shows only a few of their photos of the hard work they did that day.

 

Thanks for doing this, you two!
A hui hou!

Workings of a Local Food Farm

 

Most of us are interested in eating locally grown food these days, and some of us even try to grow as much of our own food as we can. Try as I may, I don’t seem to be able to keep enough growing to insure that I’m well fed. There are certain times of the year that I seem to have more time to do the nurturing (and work) that is involved, but at other times, I get too busy with my teaching career and something called “Life.”

Fortunately, there are some who make their career out of producing food for the rest of us. Such is the case with Chas Canon and his family. Our Garden Club made a trip to his acreage here in Ocean View in late October of this past year. If you’re like me (and if you read my blog regularly, I suspect you are), you enjoy seeing where your food comes from.

Rather than elaborate too much on what we saw there, I’m going to give you a quick look at what he grows and how he grows it. Please click on the slide show at the bottom to see all of these pictures, and more.

There is a deep gulch on the property where he grows a few things at the bottom – even along the edge of the gulch as shown here.

 

Path to the gulch
Path to the gulch

 

Growth in the gulch
Growth in the gulch

 

Up above near the house, we were shown how he mulches, sets out the irrigation lines, and grows great produce.

 

 

I don’t even get tomatoes like this that I try to grow intentionally!

Volunteer tomatoes
Volunteer tomatoes

 

Here is where it all starts.

 

He showed us the book that he follows religiously. I promptly ordered a copy for myself. It is put out by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Cornell University strongly supports the organic food movement.

 

Look for his produce at our local farmer’s market on most Saturday mornings.

You’ll get much more out of this if you watch it in full size here.

A Country Haven

GATE TO CONNIE'S HAVEN
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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
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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
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STROMANTHE

 

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

SCARLET BROMELIAD
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SCARLET BROMELIAD

 

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

HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN
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HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN

 

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

VIEW INTO THE FOREST
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VIEW INTO THE FOREST

 

Color keeps popping up everywhere.

MORE COLOR
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MORE COLOR

 

Even without color, most plants are striking and dramatic.

DRAMATIC GREENERY
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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
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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
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ANGEL

 

She is joined by the Buddha in protecting the property.

BUDDHA
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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
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CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE

 

Here is a bit of whimsy.

DOGZILLA
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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
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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
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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!

 

Yard Sculpture

STONE TABLE
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STONE TABLE

 

Last week, I showed some of the flowering plants and landscaping of Bob Elhard’s plot of land. I love to show local gardeners and their work because it gives me so much hope!

The photo above is a stone table in the entry patio he has created out of a lava slab.

He has used bits of found wood and stones to create little pockets of art everywhere you turn. Most of us here in Ocean View end up with all sorts of pieces of ohia that has blown down during a storm. I have my own piles of dead wood (like the one shown below) and someday I’ll go through them to find interesting pieces to use like Bob did.

MY WOOD PILE
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MY WOOD PILE

 

Some of these pieces may be driftwood, although the sun-bleached ohia branches look much like that.

TWISTED WOOD
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TWISTED WOOD

 

This piece looks like it is growing right out of the gravel.

WOOD
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WOOD

 

Here is an attractive combination of wood and stone. The wood cradles pieces of both rough and smooth rocks.

WOOD AND STONE
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WOOD AND STONE

 

Even something as utilitarian as barrel hoops add a touch of the whimsical to the lava rock sculpture.

BARREL HOOPS AND LAVA
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BARREL HOOPS AND LAVA

 

Another barrel hoop and an unusual piece of wood create a wall sculpture.

WALL SCULPTURE
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WALL SCULPTURE

 

This wall sculpture contributes to the feeling of all the wood being driftwood.

SEASCAPE
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SEASCAPE

 

This old bell does its share in sending my mind toward the ocean.

RUSTIC BELL
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RUSTIC BELL

 

A piece of the wood rests on the windowsill to gather sun.

WOOD IN THE SUN
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WOOD IN THE SUN

 

I love this scenario of wood, stone, and the Japanese lantern combined.

JAPANESE LANTERN WITH WOOD AND STONE
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JAPANESE LANTERN WITH WOOD AND STONE

 

I have named this sculpture “yin-yang” because of the juxtaposition of rough and smooth rocks.

YIN AND YANG
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YIN AND YANG

 

Even a bowl of crushed glass and pebbles becomes a work of art.

BOWL OF CRUSHED GLASS
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BOWL OF CRUSHED GLASS

 

This is obviously not the rough lava rock so common in our yards. What a graceful shape it has.

SMOOTH STONE
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SMOOTH STONE

 

Tucked into the undergrowth is a peaceful Buddha.

BUDDHA
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BUDDHA

 

There were many other pictures I took, but I didn’t have room for them in the post. If you want to see more photos, including the ones from last week’s post, click on the arrow for a slideshow.


Click here

    to see a full sized slide show.

    A hui ho!

Who Wants Worms?

I love to fish! I’ve been fishing all my life. Even as a little girl, I remember pulling in crappie and bream from lakes in the Midwest and catfish in the South. As an adult, when I lived on my sailboat, I fished on the Pacific Ocean for shark and other blue water fish. I waded out into the cold rivers of Alaska for salmon. I chopped ice off the top of a minnow bucket to go fishing with my children in Mississippi.

But I have never used a worm!

I can thread a hook through the eye of a minnow and put rotten meat in a basket to lure crabs, but I can’t bear the thought of touching a worm.

Last week at our local garden club meeting, several of the members mentioned that they would love to teach the rest of us about vermiculture. I’d taken an elective course in viticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which now has grown to have its own department .

Our class prepared and planted several acres with sauvignon grapes, which are bearing beautifully now. I knew vermiclture and viticulture were not the same thing, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know more about vermiculture.

When the question came up about red wigglers vs. earthworms, my worst fears were realized. It was clear that wine and worms were definitely not in the same category!

I listened closely to the conversation, waiting for some other brave soul to ask the question that was running through my mind.

“How do you handle them if you don’t want to handle them?” someone else finally asked.

Two responses came out of it. One is to wear rubber gloves, the other is to use chopsticks. Now that I could tolerate (maybe). I’ll wear rubber gloves and use chopsticks!

My second daughter, Inga, has the most incredible garden in Boise, Idaho. Her little magical space was on the Boise Garden Tour a couple years ago. She takes advantage of every inch in order to grow her garden, even out by the street.

I know Inga keeps several compost piles going so I asked her if she also grew worms. There are worms in her compost, but she hasn’t specifically set herself up to do vermiculture, she said.

Here is Velvet Replogle and some of her explanations of how to start and what to do with vermiculture .

Strips of damp (not dripping wet) newspaper are put into the bin as bedding for the worms. When Velvet first started, she used Styrofoam containers, but the worms burrowed a hole through the Styrofoam in search of food. She said that if they aren’t getting enough food, they leave.

Now she uses plastic bins with tiny holes so the worms can’t get through but still get air. You can see some of the holes in the far side of this bin.

With a moderate temperature and a relatively quiet atmosphere, the worms will stay alive and healthy. Like chickens, worms like a bit of grit, such as ground up egg shells or coffee grounds. After about a week, you can start adding other bits of kitchen scraps.

When you pull aside the wet newspaper, you see the dark and rich castings – by-product of your worms and the primary reason anyone would bother to raise worms.

This article states that castings have a nitrogen content five (5) times greater than regular soil. The phosphate is seven (7) times greater, potash is eleven (11) times greater, and magnesium is three (3) times greater.

Those facts are almost enough for me to reconsider my aversion to worms! When you are trying to grow something in a field of lava, you need all the help you can get. You’ll rarely get such magnificent fertilizer with so little effort.

My daughter knows how I hate the thought of touching worms, so I mentioned that Velvet uses chopsticks to move her worms. Inga’s response? “They are yummy! But a little hard to eat with chopsticks!” (big sigh) Our kids just never grow up, do they?

These redworms (Eisenia foetida) are also known as red wiggler, brandling or manure worms. They can double their populations every 90 days if given the right amount of food and a good home where they can live.

After watching Velvet and learning the value of these little wiggly things, I thought, “Maybe I can do this!”