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!

McDaniel Farmette

FARM SCENE
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FARM SCENE

I love to visit Other People’s Gardens for several reasons. Primarily, it is to get ideas for my own gardening efforts, to see what is possible on lava. Here are some of the ideas I found on the McDaniel acreage.

A path over the lava where we need to walk is critical. The lava rocks can trip up someone much too quickly, and as we all get a little older, we need that extra safety factor. Sandy and Joe have made nice wide paths all over their property.

PATH TO UPPER GARDEN
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PATH TO UPPER GARDEN

Occasionally, they’ve even put up railings to grab onto. That’s a wonderful idea!

PATH WITH RAILINGS
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PATH WITH RAILINGS

Here is a terrific idea for a large planter box. Joe has put together scrap wood and it saves the expense of large containers at Home Depot or Lowe’s. The bottom is left open so that roots can explore. This is what I’d like to build to house my fruit trees.

BOX PLANTER
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BOX PLANTER

I put up a scaffold-type construction for my green beans, but this is a good idea, too. There are enough scattered limbs from dead trees on my property to do this.

GREEN BEAN TEEPEE
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GREEN BEAN TEEPEE

Joe had bees, but many of the plants they relied on to make their honey were killed in the vog, so the bees literally starved to death. Here is the empty hive. I hope he tries to raise bees again. At some point, I’d like to consider having bees.

BEE HIVE
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BEE HIVE

Everyone I talk with says that goats are high maintenance, but it still appeals to me to have a few. I love goat’s milk and the cheese from it is pure heaven. These girls seem to be love being part of the family.

GOATS
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GOATS

MORE GOATS
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MORE GOATS

AND ONE MORE GOAT
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AND ONE MORE GOAT

I already have chickens, of course, but I’m always fascinated by the different designs of coops people have built. Perhaps someday I’ll do one whole post on all the coops my friends have. Here are the two where Joe and Sandy gather their eggs. The chickens are all free range, but they do lay their eggs in the nesting boxes.

OLDER CHICKEN COOP
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OLDER CHICKEN COOP

NEWER CHICKEN COOP
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NEWER CHICKEN COOP

Their rooster is a complete ham and knows he’s beautiful. He kept “posing” for me to take his picture.

MR. ROOSTER
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MR. ROOSTER

Some of the “girls” needed to get into the act with Sandy.

SANDY AND TWO GIRLS
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SANDY AND TWO GIRLS

In addition to the food sources (vegetables, goats, chickens), they have not neglected creating nooks of beauty. There is no doubt that this orchid house belongs to Sandy.

SANDY'S ORCHID HOUSE
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SANDY’S ORCHID HOUSE

Here are a couple of the beauties inside.

YELLOW ORCHID
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YELLOW ORCHID

PURPLE ORCHID
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PURPLE ORCHID

Even the trees in the orchard are semi-contained. They were still in their plastic when they were put into a hole. Now the trees have grown to a decent size, forcing roots through the broken down plastic.

ORCHARD
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ORCHARD

It seems I’m always drawn to playful yard sculptures. These chickens don’t need to be fed, but neither do they provide good eggs.

WOODEN CHICKENS
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WOODEN CHICKENS

Do you want to know which way the wind blows? Try putting a whirl-a-gig in your yard. I suppose the faster the wind blows, the faster she dances.

HULA WHIRL-A-GIG
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HULA WHIRL-A-GIG

Every garden needs a nature spirit.

GARDEN STATUE
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GARDEN STATUE

Even some of the plants have to work on this farm. These pitcher plants have a sticky surface that hangs onto bugs until they die. Here is a small one, and you can see the bugs inside.

SMALL PITCHER PLANT
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SMALL PITCHER PLANT

Here is a shot of a dead one on the ground that shows how enormous they can get. This must have been 10-12 inches long.

LARGE DEAD PITCHER PLANT
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LARGE DEAD PITCHER PLANT

Sandy may have “HERS”, but Joe has his own, too.

JOE'S WORKPLACE
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JOE’S WORKPLACE

His playful spirit comes through with the Harry Potter influence. If you are familiar with that series, you will recognize Platform 9, of course, with the luggage half-way through.

PLATFORM 9
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PLATFORM 9

And every Harry Potter fan knows you need a “portkey” if you want to get to another place quickly. Joe didn’t tell me where he goes when he enters this particular portkey

PORTKEY
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PORTKEY

At the end of our tour, we came to a resting spot near this delightful lily pond with Mr. Froggie at work.

LILY POND
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LILY POND

As always, I’m inspired by the relatively short amount of time it takes for people to create a haven of beauty on this new land created by the lava. It takes persistence and determination, hard work, and a desire to show love and respect to this planet.

Thank you, Joe and Sandy, for allowing me to enter your little piece of Paradise.

An Art Filled Thanksgiving


Most mornings, I take time to read a few pages from motivational books. Just this morning the topic was making every day a day of Thanksgiving – not about only the big spectacular events that happen to us in life, but the fact that I had a bed to sleep in last night, that there are items to make my life better, that I have senses to enrich my life.

It is in that spirit that I bring you this post, even though Thanksgiving Day is more than five weeks past. Giving thanks for our wonderful blessings and relationships is not only a good way to greet each day, but to start out a new year.

For the past two years, I have had the enjoyment of sharing Thanksgiving dinner with friends in the home of an older gentleman who retired here in Ocean View. He and his late wife came here a number of years ago and started creating their special place on four bare acres. Now it is a place of beauty, and gives me great hope for doing the same on my acre of lava.

Water lilies seem to do well here. I see them in other gardens, too.

I had forgotten about Morea Iris until I saw his. I may try to plant this in my yard. I used to grow bunches of it when I lived in California. It is also called “Fortnight Lily” because it blooms every fortnight (that’s two weeks, in case you forgot).

There is a beautiful fountain in the courtyard entry to his home.

There was no water flowing because of the children who were also guests.

Nothing could phase the beautiful sleeping Siamese. He wasn’t exactly a good “watch dog” or even an “attack cat.”

There are quite a few bananas being propagated and protected.

Around every corner of the house is a path leading to another spot of beauty.

Here is another spot with one of my favorite plants.

It seems like creating a dry stream bed is the thing to do here, where we don’t get much rain to create a wet stream.

What they created outside is beautiful, but that isn’t what attracted me most. They were able to travel all over the world in their respective professions. The inside of their home reflects their love of art and the unique.

Take a glance down the hallway at the beautiful art work. Each room and corner inside the house is a treasure, just as it is outside.

And oh, the books! If you know how much I love books, you’ll know why I appreciate these, along with more artwork. I like to books that are not “arranged” but are obviously read and loved.

Each week, several friends gather in his home to perform classical music for their personal pleasure.

I can’t begin to explain all the many nooks and crannies both inside and outside of their lovely home. With a full tummy and the joy of good fellowship with friends, I left through this entrance to their estate.

There are too many things to see and do in life, and not enough time to do it all, but this lovely man and his wife seem to have done their best to get it all in.

Aloha, and mahalo for including me in your Day of Thanksgiving!

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!”