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Garden 9

Gardening in Hawai’i Part 3 of 6 – Filling In a Blank Canvas

After all of the hard work to create a growing garden and planting areas, I was excited to begin filling my blank canvas with plants- time to go shopping! I was not sure which I was more excited for- the flowers, shrubs, and trees, or the fruits and vegetables!

I started looking up nurseries where I could shop to create my sensory plant oasis. I wanted to create a garden with all the wonderful tropical scents I’ve come to love, interwoven with unique specimens and native varietals. I visited some that may not actually have been open to the public, but the nice folks humored me by letting me buy some gems that can be hard to find unless you know someone who has the plant and is willing to make you a cutting. I knew I wanted to protect the house (and us) by planting ti in front, so I got 4 red and 4 green from Paradise Plants in Hilo, where I had also ordered 10 Christmas palms to line the driveway. The unnamed nursery let me buy mussaenda (pink and red), a shrimp plant (aka lollipop plant), Japanese glorybower, and rose grape.

At Rosettes, I found a beautiful euphorbia (but not the spreading kind I battled in Seattle), climbing bagflower, star jasmine, mystery gardenias, Kula gardenias, hopinapina, portulaca, verbena, periwinkles, pikake, plus many herb, fruit, and vegetable starts. From Mountain Meadows, I bought all the types of ginger they had, plus some lobster heleconia, and three types of birds of paradise. From a new friend, I bought 2 rainbow plumerias, 2 jaboticabas, and a pak ian tree. She also gave me a yesterday, today, and tomorrow plant. From the wonderful people who sell me duck eggs, I received a coffee plant, variegated begonia, creeping begonias, roselle, and vireya. Somewhere along the way, I also picked up several cannas, a dwarf variegated ginger, rattlesnake plant, and anthurium. I also ordered bare root roses from my favorite rose company in Oregon, Heirloom Roses.

After planting the flowers/shrubs/trees, I set out to plant my food garden. In there, I went with tomatoes, carrots, peas (mostly a failure), okra, radishes, collards, corn (failure), beans, watermelon (mostly a failure), squash, salsify (another failure), strawberries, blueberries, poha, Hawaiian chili peppah, herbs, Okinawa purple sweet potato, pineapples, avocados (4 varieties), Calamansi, Tahitian lime, Meyer lemon, Cara Cara orange, and dwarf apple bananas. Someday, the abundance from the fruit/veg trees will be amazing. For now, we get a tiny lime or calamansi from time to time and appreciate every drop of juice it gives.

Putting in a garden is a long-term project, akin to raising animals. It takes time, attention, care, patience, and a willingness to accept and learn from failure. It is a great way to be pono with your ‘aina, and to recognize that we humans are not in control of everything. It also teaches you that when you’re gardening in a completely new environment, it helps to learn from those who are from here, or who’ve been here long enough to know tips and tricks. One of those places for me has been Mayan World Farms, which I’ll profile in Garden Part IV.

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