Thursday, November 30, 2006

Orchid Bump

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

What do we have here? Success in resizing?

This is an attempt to get the Heiau/Pile O' Rocks lower for a full view
to see what a weeks worth of lifting and toting as an aside to installing a landscape can accomplish.

Progress Not

Edited 12-1
(Photo switched to Blogger. Can be expanded now.)

Well now this is interesting. Tired of waiting for
Blogger photo uploading to come back on, I thought I
would try my old PhotoBucket account and work around it.
I resized this image enough times to the point of
aggravation, Lord I am stubborn, and even though
PB says it is the right size to fit, Blogger thinks it is bigger.

I test posted it to see if it would shrink in the publishing,
but no it did not. The interesting thing was the large size did
not shift my profile box and links down to the bottom of the page.
They sat on top of the photo and that sure is an interesting look.

My Organized Pile of Useless Rocks has grown quite a bit in the
last nine days. Standing behind it and in front of the large natural
boulder outcropping is a Baby Buttercup Tree. May it live a long
and healthy life with a full head of branches and leaves and produce
bumper crops of blossoms to the joy of all who see.

I am hoping the steep elevation drop will work in its favor
in the long run.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Photo Dependent Blogging

I have been unable to upload photos for the last three days, so a new post has been thwarted. It wasn't that exciting anyway. Mostly I have been quite busy with this new landscape install and quite tired and brain dead when I get home. Add in two challenging people I have had to deal with in the last few weeks without losing my cool and trying very hard to "Be Nice" and a state of stupor settles in. This too shall pass.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Last Hurrah ?

This is the driveway of a flag lot leading up to the house and cottage. Over three years ago before the main house was completed a cease construction order was placed on the owners. That is a long sad story of neighbors suing, getting bogged down in the courts and the county government bureaucracy. After three years the cease construction order was lifted on a technicality. Construction resumed and the rest of the garden is also finally being installed.

It really is a LOOOONG ridiculous story with too many details to go into. Just suffice it to say the project is coming to a finish. I will say that the owners displayed the most extraordinary patience and grace under fire I have ever witnessed.

About %50 of the total landscape around the finished portions of the buildings, swimming pool and the perimeter of the property that could be installed without hindering future construction was planted. These two pictures were taken when the landscape was about two years old to give you an idea of what some of the finished portions look like.

This is the section I am currently working on. It is a very steep hill face with a 20 foot elevation drop over a 50 foot run. The swimming pool above is at the top of the stairs you see in these shots. I take no responsibility for the construction of these stairs!!!!

The pictures move from left to right.

What does one plant on a hillside that is too steep to comfortably walk on or maintain? Rest assured it will not be Bougainvillea. In some respects it is an unusable piece of land. Its contribution will be mostly visual.

And what do you do with the hundreds and hundreds of rocks that litter the ground and keep popping up every time you dig a hole or prep the ground for planting?

I have one solution, an Organized Pile of Useless Rocks. As I work the Cairn grows.

One day it may grow up to look like this one in my own garden.

Yes Christopher C was Here too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Short Day Sunrise with Wires

The sun now sleeps in as late as I generally do. At about 6:30 am the winter sky behind Haleakala begins to lighten. The sun still has to make it over the top of the 10,000 foot summit before sunrise is official for me.

The dark side of the house still waits for the arrival of blue skies, but the clouds have captured some early light. The amount of activity my camera seems to capture in the skies above me that I am completely oblivious to until I look at the pictures on the computer has been astounding. What is that bright white dot in the morning sky?

There is another UFO in the sky in a photo in the post below. It wasn't there when I aimed the camera. My garden is largely organic and the insect population is healthy and robust. When the sun is at a low angle and you focus your attention on the empty space that is the air a veritable whirlwind of living activity is revealed.

Horton Heard the Who.
Sometimes when you look
You can see them too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Not So Long Ago

Not so long ago a garden bench sat at the edge of a variegated St. Augustine lawn. The bench was nestled in a bed of Ruellia brittoniana and shaded by the branches of a 'Gwen' Avocado, Persea americana, an avocado with a dwarf weeping habit of growth.

The bench was a wonderful place to sit at the end of the day. It looked out over a large part of the garden with the extra deep beds filled with abundant tropical flowers. The flower beds formed and surrounded an oval shaped variegated lawn. The western sky and the sunset hues filled a large chunk of the view out of the secluded oasis made private by the lush foliage. Large volcanic boulders stood upright in a straight line down the center of the lawn for its entire length. These boulders echoed the ancient monolithic stones of Europe and the British and Irish Isles. These stones spoke of Hawaiian and Polynesian structures made of abundant volcanic rock. From the helicopters that flew overhead quite often, the stones may have appeared as the bundled chromosomes in a lawn that was shaped like a sperm cell. The main oval lawn was connected to a wiggling tail of grass that wrapped around two sides of the house. On full moon nights the white grass glowed in the dark.

There is one thing you can count on in the garden. Nothing ever stays the same. Change is a given. The bench is still very close to its original location, but it lists to one side and is in danger of collapsing if any weight is placed on its slats.

True to form the Avocado 'Gwen' has stayed short and wide with drooping branches ladened with fruit year after year. It arms stretched out and over the comfortable bench and then touched the ground closing off the view of the western sky. The variegated St. Augustine lawn started turning yellow and began to disappear one year. It was completely gone before I found out that the Florida Chinch Bug had made it to Hawaii and was feasting on its favorite food source. The Centipede grass filled in and the lawn turned a basic green.

'Gwens' neighbors, a Philippine Poinsettia, a Golden Shower Tree (Koelreuteria bipinnata) and two Manila Palms climbed for the sun and the sky above while 'Gwen' stretched out below. Beside her and underneath the taller neighbors a thicket of Red Ginger formed a wall along the edge of the garden.

Today there was another beheading for the sake of "The View". I climbed into the top of the Golden Shower Tree and shortened its height by a good ten feet. I was fortunate to have been able to see the golden yellow flowers followed by the rich pink pods before I chopped off its head. The deep pink pods had begun to turn brown and the seasonal display of red, white and sky blue would soon be gone.

I'd rather not mention how I came to plant an obscure to Hawaii Golden Shower Tree in my garden. Any guilt I may have felt was significantly lessened when I discovered that the Iao Valley was filled with these trees. I saw them for sale in a nursery one time and was told they had come from the Big Island. Apparently there are many gardeners who think alike.

The now plain green oval part of the lawn was later covered in a heavy duty landscape fabric to prevent weed growth and a nursery of potted plants was placed on top. Only the wiggly tail of grass remains. The landscape fabric was laid around the monolithic stones. A path follows beside them.

One day soon the potted plants will all be sold. The fabric will be pulled up and a lawn allowed to return. The deep beds will be thinned and pushed back to the property line. The stones have grown heavier with time. They will remain in place. Their significance to be contemplated or dismissed by the next people to place a bench on the edge of the lawn.

Almost Paradise

Eric from Almost Paradise, a blogger on the island of Oahu visited my blog today which gave me the opportunity to visit his blog. For his 40th birthday he hiked the Manana Ridge Trail. His post of this hike is an excellent tour of a natural area filled with many photographs of native Hawaiian plants.

So hop on over to Oahu and visit Eric at Almost Paradise.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Euphorbia Transformation

Everyone is familiar with Euphorbia pulcherrima, the ubiquitous Christmas Poinsettia. They are native to Mexico and Central America. Their winter bloom is induced by the shortening day length. At a critical point, when daylight is less than of 11.5 hours the blooming process begins. If this process is interrupted by close artificial light, such as porch lights or street lamps, Poinsettias will not bloom.

There is another Euphorbia native to southern Mexico down to El Salvador, Euphorbia leucocephala. It is also induced to bloom by the shortening day. It can get quite large almost tree like in size, but is treated more as a shrub. The leaves are small 2 to 3 inches long narrow and linear. For most of the year it is a boring plain green shrub.

Then it blooms. The same process as the Christmas Poinsettia, with leaf bracts changing color and looking flower like below the much smaller true flowers. The difference is the Euphorbia leucocephala does this in miniature and in white. This is then topped off with a medium strength jasmine scent.

The entire shrub turns white and looks like a fluffy cloud. At night its sweet aroma fills the air. This is for me in the tropics a sign of the changing seasons. Yes Virginia there is a winter in Hawaii.

When I arrived here and first discovered this shrub I was told it was called Philippine Poinsettia and that is what I called it. At some point I needed to know its botanical name and looked it up and found out where it was from. Calling it the Philippine Poinsettia didn't seem right any more and I have tried calling it the Mexican Poinsettia, but that doesn't sit well with me either. Filipinos are some of the most avid home gardeners of all the various cultures who have made Hawaii home. I imagine it got its name from them because they were the ones who had been growing it here on Maui. In Hortus Third it is called Pascuita, a Spanish word I would have to look up to translate. I have decided to stick with Philippine Poinsettia in honor of my fellow gardeners on Maui.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogger Revealed

Inspired by the use of vintage profile shots and the use of vintage photographs in posts by some enjoyable garden bloggers, Annie in Austin and the Takoma Gardener and a revealing self portrait by Chuck B at Whoreticulture, I thought I would see what I could come up with. I have a feeling I may be leaving someone out who I visit regularly and has used old photos other than Ellen at Whistlestop Caboose, forgive me.

I definitely need a better camera for closeups.

Remember when children were kept in cages and that was a good thing?

Then you dressed them up once a year for the obligatory mugshot to hand out to the relatives.

The 60's passed and the best you could hope for the "Paper Boy of the Month" was to get him to comb his hair.

This one was frightening. My God I used to be hot! What happened and should I really be going through old photographs?

And then you end up like this after a long hard life on the range, my stage debut as a puppet on a string. Left to right:
Joe Aguirre
Ennis Del Mar
Boss Hogg
Miss Kitty Kola and
Jack Twist

Inspiration is one thing, but never discount the power of Vanity and a Mother's Love who made an individual photo album from tons of old pictures for each of her five children to give as gifts.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Off with Their Heads

This is my lovely Buttercup Tree, Cochlospermum vitifolium before I chopped off its head. It is a rare tree in the landscape here. I do not know why, maybe because this double flowered one is sterile and very hard to root from stem cuttings. It took over a year for the cutting that is now this tree to root for me. Since then I have found that root cuttings are a great way to propagate this tree.

The wood is very soft, moist and a bright yellow when cut. The bark is a smooth gray. They form multiple stout trunks forming a wide round canopy. The Buttercup Tree is deciduous and sheds its palmately lobed leaves completely in December, turning first yellow then brown.

By January when the tree is bare, fully double vibrant yellow blossoms the size of an orange form on the branch tips. They fall to the ground by the hundreds and will last for days without water just sitting in a basket. The bloom period lasts for two months at the least.

The thing is when you live on the side of a steep volcanic mountain and there is a view out there, the people above you are pretty much guaranteed to hate your trees. Lawsuits and fights, neighborhood tensions, knocks on the door by committees and stealth murder by poisoning have all occurred because of trees blocking views.

Now most people being neighborly and not wanting to be obstructionists will call in the tree trimmers and hack away at the trees. There seems to be some notion that a tree is no different than a shrub and you can train them to be neat little boxes and balls. Most trees think otherwise and the result is a lot of brutalized trees until the years of expensive training is ended and the tree gets cut down.

Fifteen years ago I knew all this while planting my garden and selecting what trees and palms to plant and where to put them. I think I did pretty well. It took almost twelve years before two of my trees became an issue for my landlords above me. That is an eternity in a Tropical Landscape as far as growth rates are concerned.

I can't bear the thought of chopping my Buttercup Tree down, so for the last three years I have chopped off its head. I wait until late fall, so unfortunately I lose a lot of blooms, but it will not start growing vigorously again until June. After it blooms it remains dormant for a couple more months. This way I only have to behead it once a year and the entire view remains for the longest length of time.

My Buttercup Tree's companion The Hideous Plastic House has a new roof and still mocks me. One day I will live in a land where plastic houses are roadside attractions and are not parked on my driveway.

Do Not Stare

Directly into the Sun

This unitary blogger Slice of Sky meme has been an interesting exercise for me. It has forced me to go outside, be still and watch the sunset more often. Normally it just passes me by.

I have noticed that the colors actually pulse in intensity as the sun slowly descends into the sea. I even saw the infamous Green Flash one evening.

I hope you enjoy these Slices of Sky and are not bored by them.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Orange Glow Sky

Previous Skies

White and Gold

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On a Clear Day

The remnants of the recent rains sat lodged against the flanks of Haleakala. The length of an open fairway provides an expansive view of ominous clouds. The mountain behind the clouds undergoes a dramatic transformation when the leeward side is blessed with the winter rains.

For eight months of the year this is the indigenous landscape on the undeveloped lands of Kihei and Wailea.

Then it rains and everything changes.

Most of the time it is brown from the middle of the mountain all the way to right hand side, particularly at lower elevations. With two good rains, almost overnight, a fresh vibrant green appears and the world has a whole new look and a fresh new feel.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Garden Colors on Election Day

Red can sometimes be a very in your face color. When it crowds out any hint of another color and never changes no matter what the season it can get a bit tiresome to look at.

Blue is a more difficult color to find in the garden and sometimes you have to physically move some of the Blue to get enough of them to sit still and be organized for greater impact.

Perhaps Blue is less common in plants because they did not want to compete with the heavens above.

Purple is always fascinating because it is such an unexpected color, particularly in the body of a plant.

Purple pinstripes with a backing of green and a hint of silver. Now that is a nice looking plant. It is far more intriguing and involved than the strong solid Red.

Hooray for Purple!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Day Dreaming

The lawn is mowed. The taxes are filed. The laundry is dried.
The sink full of dirty dishes is another matter.
They are stacked neatly.

I have done major shrubbery chopping in the last two weeks.
I know who I am voting for on Tuesday.
It is ok if I take some time to put my Day Dreams on paper.

Procrastination maybe, but it serves a useful purpose.
Proper planning is good.
The Priorities are currently fluid.

Our House

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
(Yea Right)

You can dream though.

The first step may be a very fine and cozy garage.
I could live in that for a few years.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

White and Gold

I was getting just a little weirded out since I kept capturing some UFO in each of these Slices of the Sky shots. I checked the camera and look at other pictures from the same day and no spots or UFO's.


And the Spot/UFO keeps showing up in a different location. I do look out over a pretty busy flight path, but I can see the planes with the naked eye and there were not any out there when I was taking these shots.


After Gold I waited to see if I might get Orange. I saw quite a few birds fly across the sky while I waited. I did not see any Spots, Planes or UFO's.

Previous Slices of Sky
Blue and Gray

Friday, November 03, 2006

The View from Up There

My little cottage is to the right and below the palms on the right hand side of this view. I had to top my Buttercup Tree today to open "The View" from the deck that is perched above me. I went up there to get an estimate of how much I needed to chop off.

I took a before shot of the Buttercup tree and will take an after shot when there is better light.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Same slice of sky different day. Looking and feeling gray.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The scent is so strong when it hits, you feel like you have walked into a wall. It invades your nostrils with determined power and pours into your lungs like a warm molasses. Feeling heavier than air it surrounds you. Your ears tingle and try to embrace the aroma. Your head darts about looking for the source of this overpowering intoxicant.

The rains from two weeks ago must have triggered this mass bloom of Murraya paniculata called Mock Orange here in Hawaii. Every where I look, formerly demure green shrubs and hedges are covered in masses of white blooms.

In my mind their bloom has always been sparse and sporadic, nice when it happened here and there, but brief and uneventful. This week there has been a coordinated effort by every Mock Orange in Kihei. The dense green shrubs are all in sinc and blooming with an unusual vigor.

This is an aroma that makes you stop what you are doing and swirl it around like a wine connoisseur breathing in the bouquet of a fine vintage wine.

Imagine a light sweet jasmine mixed with the complex bulk of gardenia, add in the fruity scent of an orange grove and top it off with a hint of cinnamon and you end up with the dense triple sugary effect of Mock Orange in bloom. Then set an entire town of it in bloom at once in still humid air from the next round of rain that approaches.

Breathe in deep. This is the Hawaiian night air on steroids.