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.

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

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!