Full of Grace and Drama

KAIMANA, MY FAITHFUL GARDENING COMPANION
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KAIMANA, MY FAITHFUL GARDENING COMPANION

 

Some of the first cuttings I received in early 2006 were the “Angel Trumpet” from my friends in Na`alehu, or what is more properly known as Brugmansia. At first, I called it Datura, and I discovered that I’m not the only one to confuse it with Brugmansia.

“Dave’s Garden” is a website I go to often for questions I have about certain plants. This link gives a thorough description of the differences. One of the most noticeable is that the Brugmansia has long pendulous blooms, while the Datura has a more upright trumpet. Also, the Brugmansia can become tree-sized and the Datura doesn’t grow taller than about four feet.

So the beautiful trees with the cream or peach colored blooms hanging down and swaying in the breeze all over the island right now is actually a Brugmansia, as far as I can tell from my research.

At any rate, Brugmansia is what I was given over three years ago, and they rooted quickly. Here is a picture taken toward my driveway from the house and you can see several of them, easily distinguished from the palms and plumeria. This was taken when they were one year old (April, 2007).

YOUNG BRUGMANSIA BY DRIVEWAY
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YOUNG BRUGMANSIA BY DRIVEWAY

 

These two trees are nearer my front door, taken at the same time (April, 2007).

EARLY BRUGMANSIA
EARLY BRUGMANSIA

 

I have nursed all of these, watered regularly, put plenty of soil around them, and bestowed them with lots of TLC.

Just this week, I had my first bloom, and it wasn’t even on the biggest of the plants I have. In fact, it was in the smaller of the two trees in the above photo.

During my regular watering last Saturday (April 18), I noticed this long green bud hanging down from the center of the plant. Normally, I examine each plant carefully and talk to it as I water to check for bugs, disease, and growth, but this bud had escaped me. It seemed like it must have come out overnight.

FIRST BRUGMANSIA BUD
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FIRST BRUGMANSIA BUD

 

I took pictures as it unfolded. You would think it was my new baby – and in a way, I guess that’s absolutely true. Those who have several full-grown trees in their yard, must think I’m crazy, but after struggling to get even one bloom, I’m ecstatic with what I have.

Three days later (April 21) it had started to open.

 

The following day (April 22) it was open even more

 

By Thursday (April 23) it was fully open.

 

I hope that this means I’ll be seeing more blooms on my other Brugmansia plants soon.

There are some other features about this plant that you should know. First, please realize that all parts of both Datura and Brugmansia are highly toxic. When you work with them, I recommend that you wear garden gloves and certainly don’t put your fingers on your face if you’ve touched them. One friend ended up having a difficult time breathing after she’d been trimming them.

“The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and can be fatal.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floripondio)

It has been used in shamanic rituals, as well as in a drink called “ayahuasca” in South America. On the north end of the Big Island of Hawai`i, there is a group (they call themselves a “church”) that uses ayahuasca in their rituals. One of my students just gave a talk on ayahuasca this week in my class on substance abuse. I won’t go into it here, but please do the research if you are interested in finding out more.

In my research, I also found a society dedicated to Datura and Brugmansia – the American Brugmansia & Datura Society, Inc. So evidently I am not the only who seems to think of them together.

Another fascinating connection, at least for me, is that the Datura and Brugmansia belong to the perennial herbaceous family of Solanaceae – that includes Belladonna and other toxic plants. When I was a child and constantly suffering from asthma, the only remedy that seemed to work was Asthmador made of Belladonna . It came in cones of incense, powdered form, as well as cigarette form. When the first two could not be found, my father taught me how to smoke Asthmador cigarettes!

Since then, at least one medical article has come out that talks about how a toxic psychosis could be induced by Asthma-Dor. (Can Med Assoc J. 1971 February 20; 104(4): 326) I also discovered an art site that showed a “vintage box” of Dr. R. Schiffman’s Asthmador cigarettes that was on auction.

Although that drug is the only reason I am alive and breathing today, I hope I haven’t become too obsessed with learning more about the graceful and dramatic Brugmansia outside my door.

A hui hou!

Shangri-La Hawai`i Style

PARADISE POND
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PARADISE POND

What a delight to find this garden in the middle of a lava field! Anything I could say about this Hawaiian Shangri-La would be superfluous. In fact, there was so much to see here that I will divide Bob Elhard’s work of art into two posts. Today I will concentrate on the floral and landscape. Next week, I will focus on his yard sculptures.

ENTRY PATIO
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ENTRY PATIO

The entry into this piece of paradise would have been enough for me, but it just kept going. Here he created a place to relax with a cup of coffee, to greet friends, and admire the growth around him.

ENTRY PAVILLION
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ENTRY PAVILLION

Steps from his entry patio lead into other mysteries.

STONE STEPS
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STONE STEPS

A variety of colors and textures dominate the entire entry area.

COLORS AND TEXTURES IN PATIO
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COLORS AND TEXTURES IN PATIO

MORE OF ENTRY PATIO
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MORE OF ENTRY PATIO

Here is a broader view of what you can expect as you first walk into his property.

BROAD VIEW OF ENTRY
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BROAD VIEW OF ENTRY

Because I have traveled in Japan so many times, Bob’s use of the typical red Japanese bridges was intriguing. He has built several throughout his property to lead you on to more corners and vistas.

JAPANESE BRIDGE
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JAPANESE BRIDGE

Orchids are tucked into all sorts of out-of-the-way spots to help soften the lava. Madam Pele would be proud!

ORCHIDS
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ORCHIDS

ORCHIDS
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ORCHIDS

ORCHIDS
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ORCHIDS

ORCHIDS
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ORCHIDS

ORCHIDS
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ORCHIDS

This is a lovely example of a plant I’m trying to nurture in my own yard. Mine are small and haven’t flowered yet, but I can hardly wait!

DATURA
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DATURA

It would be difficult for me to say which was my favorite spot in Bob’s garden, but I think I’d have to say it’s this back yard retreat. The opening photo gives another view. Here is still another of the beautiful bridges.

POND PARADISE
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POND PARADISE

One of the petals from the jade vine hanging over the pond had dropped into the water at my feet, reminding me of similar simple scenes in Japan.

JADE VINE PETAL
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JADE VINE PETAL

The donkey tails hanging around the pond were the longest I’ve ever seen and were almost surreal.

MORE POND PARADISE
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MORE POND PARADISE

The one in the foreground isn’t nearly as long as the one you can see across the pond.

DONKEY TAILS
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DONKEY TAILS

We live in an area that struggles for every drop of water. Even so, Bob has managed to create a luxurious effect with the water he gathers. He has arranged his water lines in such a way that even the rain running off the driveway is utilized to fill his pond and other water features, like this waterfall.

WATERFALL
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WATERFALL

Walking from one garden area to another, we passed through a glassed in porch. I couldn’t resist taking a shot of this gorgeous Christmas cactus.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS
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CHRISTMAS CACTUS

A different kind of beauty was found in Bob’s veggie garden. And of course, another Japanese bridge! You can see his chicken coop in the background, but I’ve decided to do a separate post soon on the wonderful array of chicken coops my friends have. You’ll get a closer view of Bob’s great coops then.

VEGETABLE GARDEN
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VEGETABLE GARDEN

We were all invited to pull up some of his veggies to take home. Here is a shot of what I pulled up to bring home!

BIG CARROTS
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BIG CARROTS

Here we are! The clubbers are all picking veggies.

GARDEN CLUB MEMBERS
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GARDEN CLUB MEMBERS

I absolutely adore looking into workshops where the nitty gritty takes place!

WORKSHOP
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WORKSHOP

Next Sunday, the Lava Lily post will show all the ways Bob has used odd pieces of wood and stone to create yard sculptures.

A hui ho!