New Home!

1-spring flowers

In 2005 I bought this sweet small house on an acre of land consisting of nothing but a’a lava rock. Then in May of 2008, I started this blog. I began to share photos and write about how that acre of lava was developing (or not developing).

Since late spring of this year, I was given a home that is closer to the college where I teach, closer to town, and has land that will actually grow something. It is still rocky, but the lava has decomposed enough that it manages to provide more of the lush greenery for which Hawai`i is known.

Down side yard toward back1

While I lived in Ocean View, I complained about not being able to grow anything, or at best what did stay alive was growing at a snail’s pace! Now my complaint goes in the opposite direction – everything grows too quickly! This view into the side yard was taken in April.

Down side toward back2

Two months later in June, it was so overgrown that no one could walk through it! There is a lot of work to be done still, but with the help of some friendly landscapers, it is beginning to take shape. I’ll post more pictures as things start to look beautiful again.

I look forward to cleaning out this little area with its raised beds. It is a perfect spot for growing herbs, or starting seeds, or potting seedlings, and more. The purple sweet potatoes growing here were probably from starts the previous owner was tending. I will transplant some of those into a backyard garden.

Raised bed for herbs

Friends have given me lilikoi seedlings and several white pineapple plants. So much to look forward to here!

A hui hou!
Lucy

Another Spring in Boise

As soon as Spring semester was over at the college, I took off for a week to visit my children on the mainland. I’ve posted photos of my daughter Inga’s garden in the past, but for the first time ever, I was there to enjoy it in person!

One morning while she was at work, I walked around her garden with my video camera. Another addition since I was there is the little dry creek and bridge in the photo above. Inga set it up to look like it empties into the pond.

Enjoy this YouTube I created of Inga’s garden in the early days of Spring, even though it was still very cold! You’ll see Quimby the Corgi, Mr. Bill and Spooky Boo her two cats, and a neighboring white cat that wanted to get into the act, too.

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!

Summer Patio in Boise

Several weeks ago, I showed Inga’s garden, promising a review of her latest project – a roof to provide shade for her patio. I just received the pictures for your enjoyment. As you can see, her father and brother-in-law pitched in to help. Inga and her sister kept everyone supplied in nourishment and beverage.

There’s something wrong with this picture! While we struggle to get through a drought here in Paradise, my daughter’s Boise patio looks more tropical than our own tropics! Of course, a mister system helps.

I am impressed with her ability to make such a small space hold so much and still look spacious. I can’t seem to get that effect on an entire acre.

Even the necessary utilitarian area is beautiful.

So many beautiful things growing!

I keep trying to get a few tomatillos to grow. She has no problem.

Her fruit trees keep her well supplied.

With so many things growing . . .

. . . it’s a wonder she has a chance to sit here and relax!

As always, I get lots of ideas for my own patio and garden.
Mahalo nui loa, Inga!

A hui hou!

Boise Gardening

 

As I work in my own garden, I watch some plants thrive while others struggle for survival. So I love to see the gardens other people put together.

 

In the past, I’ve written about my daughter’s small historic home in Boise, Idaho. I’ve shown her garden as it makes the seasonal transitions through snow and spring. Each time I see her newest pictures I get ideas and inspiration.

 

When she visited me here in Hawai`i this past spring, she installed the beginnings of a new drip system, which I was able to expand over the following months. Now, even though it might be a lost cause here on my lava field, I’m trying to figure out how I can put in a brick patio!

 

People talk about edible gardens, but my daughter has taken it to a new level. Without a lot of front yard space, she utilizes the space between her downtown sidewalk and the street to great advantage. How in the world does she keep anyone from helping themselves?

 

I have a couple of blueberry bushes in my garden that were designed for subtropical climates, but they don’t look nearly as healthy as these.

 

Every spare inch of space is used for flowers, veggies and herbs.

 

Looks like she has an eager helper.

 

Even fruit trees have found their home in her tiny garden!

 

I really do envy her little lean-to greenhouse.

 

She recently added a roof overhang for her patio so she can sit in the shade and sip tea while her drip system does the watering for her. I don’t have pictures of that yet, but I’m sure you will see those soon. In the meantime, enjoy this stroll through a small garden in Boise.

 

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!

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.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

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!

 

Various Projects on the “Farm”

ORIGINAL LOCATION OF SIDE PATH
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ORIGINAL LOCATION OF SIDE PATH

 

Relocating rocks can be either hard labor, or you can look at it as good exercise! I choose to think of it as a way to get in my weight lifting. This weekend, I put on my heavy duty garden gloves and started creating a spot in the sun for my three new boysenberry plants.

Soon after I moved into this house, I created a side path out of cinder and 12-inch pavers with the help of a friend. The photo above shows the path before we added the pavers, but gives an idea of where they would be going – fairly close alongside the house. This was also before the lattice work was put in around the base of the house.

Boysenberries need to be in full sun. There are many places around my acre that are in full sun, but only this one place where they would have something to climb on without building a frame. For several reasons, that wasn’t an option at this time.

So my first task was to move the pavers to create an area for the berries. Here is the new path, curved to leave a planting spot.

NEW CURVED PATH
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NEW CURVED PATH

 

This space will hold three boysenberry plants – I hope.

NEW SPACE FOR BOYSENBERRIES
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NEW SPACE FOR BOYSENBERRIES

 

A couple weeks ago, a friend helped me build an addition to the chicken run. The “girls” seem happy with their new space. Here is a view from the front toward the water tank.

NEW CHICKEN RUN
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NEW CHICKEN RUN

 

This is a closer view from the other side. They all gathered to see what I was doing. As you can see, there is a little more to be done to finish off the top. They love scratching around in the lava, especially after I’ve tossed in a bunch of weeds.

CLOSER VIEW OF CHICKEN RUN
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CLOSER VIEW OF CHICKEN RUN

 

As I was moving the rocks for the boysenberry bed, I found several flat rocks that looked like pieces of concrete from the original construction period that had been stained by the red concrete. I pulled those out and created a path in some of the beds in the patio. I’ll dump in either cinder or soil and let something like a low-growing herb of some sort or alyssum fill in the cracks.

NEW PATH IN PATIO BEDS
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NEW PATH IN PATIO BEDS

 

The left side of this path is unplanted, so it’s full of weeds right now. You can barely see the right side where I have arugula and other salad greens planted. Original steps at the lower end of this path were put in by my two daughters last March.

ANOTHER ANGLE
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ANOTHER ANGLE

 

Here is another angle.

MORE OF PATIO PATH
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MORE OF PATIO PATH

 

You even get a glimpse of my pink geranium in this view.

PATH WITH PINK GERANIUM
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PATH WITH PINK GERANIUM

 

While I was taking pictures with my new Nikon Coolpix S610, I thought you might like to see the back half of my acre. I stood at the door of my shed and took several shots of it so you can see the potential for more growing space. When I figure out how to use the video ability of this camera, I’ll do a sweep around the property. Until then, just pretend that this is one panoramic view, from left to right. If you want to see a larger picture of each one, just click on it.

 

Here is a close-up of where the patio is from the shed, shielded by a stand of wild grass. When the grass is pulled, I will plant more flowers and veggies in that area, as well. So many ideas, so little time and energy!

HIDDEN PATIO
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HIDDEN PATIO

 

One last picture that I took at the same time is my beautiful bell pepper – a lovely green against the gray/black lava rocks.

BELL PEPPER
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BELL PEPPER

 

Addendum – just before I posted this, I made a few changes to my boysenberry bed. I removed the rocks from the outside of the pathway, dug three holes with the help of a friend who recently moved to Hawaii from Washington. In another post, I’ll tell you about her and how this blog prompted her to move here.

BOYSENBERRY BED
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BOYSENBERRY BED

 

She and I dug three deep holes, then she held the plant in place while I dumped in my combination of soil and chicken manure. We put rocks around the outside to help hold the soil and water. New growth was already beginning to show on the roots!

3 BOYSENBERRIES
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3 BOYSENBERRIES

 

A hui hou!

 

A Week of Surprises

PATIO THIS NEW YEAR'S DAY
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PATIO THIS NEW YEAR’S DAY

 

The Hawai`ian Spring comes sooner than in most parts of the country. Still, I am always a little surprised when something actually starts to grow and bloom. This past week I’ve been weeding, planting, while ignoring a few of my older starts. What a surprise when I took time to look around! Here are a few of my surprises.

The little iris plants I put in as starters from my friend, Velvet, have grown, multiplied and bloomed! Here is a “before” picture, taken in October, 2008.

IRIS-THEN
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IRIS-THEN

 

Here they are now.

IRIS-NOW
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IRIS-NOW

 

What a joy to find this unexpected bloom!

IRIS IN BLOOM
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IRIS IN BLOOM

 

The fig tree has grown quite a bit, too, now that our spring has started. You can see the difference between this. . .

FIG TREE-THEN
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FIG TREE-THEN

 

. . . and now. I’ve had to prop up one of the branches because it is so heavy.

FIG TREE-NOW
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FIG TREE-NOW

 

The lovely little calendula has been sprouting new shoots. Here she is when I first planted her as a cutting.

CALENDULA-THEN
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CALENDULA-THEN

 

My, how she’s grown and spread!

CALENDULA-NOW
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CALENDULA-NOW

 

Some of the most spectacular growth has taken place with the native yellow hibiscus.

NATIVE HIBISCUS-THEN
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NATIVE HIBISCUS-THEN

 

Even though I’ve had no blooms on this plant, it’s been growing like Topsy! I’ve even pruned her back to encourage more fullness.

NATIVE HIBISCUS-NOW
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NATIVE HIBISCUS-NOW

 

This Week of Surprises wouldn’t be complete without “before” and “now” shots of my patio. The first one was taken in March 2008, almost a year ago when my daughters and son-in-law were here. I described their work in this November 2008 post.

PATIO-THEN
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PATIO-THEN

 

You can see how much has grown in, and also how much more there is to fill in. I have a long way to go, but it’s nice to have a cup of tea at my little table while I relax and admire the things that have grown.

PATIO-NOW
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PATIO-NOW

 

The opening photo was taken on New Year’s Day 2009. The fig was still very small then. My old heart just sings with pleasure at seeing plants finally start to bloom and grow.

Among all the growth that has taken place I find that seeds are starting to produce, also. This purple cosmos is one of my favorites. It comes from seeds given me from a friend’s garden.

PURPLE COSMOS
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PURPLE COSMOS

 

Of course, there is the geranium, a plant that has almost weed status in some areas of California, but a treasure brought inside over the snowy winter in other areas, like Rhode Island. Their brilliant colors add much to a garden. I have red ones and violet ones, but the delicate pink is a real marvel. A tiny cutting was planted near a pink plumeria and the two should present quite a show later in the spring.

PINK GERANIUM
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PINK GERANIUM

 

Watch for Lava Lily next weekend with a few more surprises.

A hui hou! (“Till we meet again” in Hawai`ian or “See you later” as some of my friends use it!)

Lucy

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.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
Click here

    to see a full sized slide show.

    A hui ho!