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.


The County Clerk said...


Yes... nothing can stay.

Time is great undoer. As Robert Frost wrote "Nothing gold can stay."


Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

The search for gold can always continue, but recognizing and savoring the golden flakes that litter the path is time better spent.

chuck b. said...

Golden Shower tree. Heh.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I wish I would have thought of something more poetic like County Clerk, but I have to admit -- "golden shower" sent my mind straight into the gutter too. I don't know what happened -- I used to think such clean thoughts back when I worked at the library...

Annie in Austin said...

Yes, Christin - I've come back three times to read and look at the photos, trying to come up with a comment worthy of Christopher's post... I should have posted faster before Chuck B made us all snicker instead!

There's a rose with the same name, and even though it looks pretty in the catalogs - no way was I ever gonna buy it.


christin m p in massachusetts said...

How are you able to look at the move so philosophically? I'm getting more emotional about it than you are, even though it doesn't directly affect me. It would be different if your living situation were precarious in some way, but you have everything set up so nicely on the island. It just seems sad to have to undo all your beautiful creations. Too bad you can't have dual residences in Kihei and Clyde.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

The life of a gardener does not afford dual residences.

How am I so philosophical about moving?

The beheading of my trees that I did was apparently not enough for the &$)!@*&%. I guess she couldn't see the roof of the house below me and a Tongan tree trimmer and his helper descended on my garden today and started chopping things down even further. Then they went into the neighbors yard and went after their trees. They get a C- for cleaning up after themselves.

The two dogs who live on the deck at the house above me bark at everything that moves when no one is home which is most of the day and half of the night.

Every property in this neighborhood is a small apartment complex and I am hemmed in by too many people. This is a neighborhood with the most room for folks on this island. I am lucky in that regard and it is still too crowded for me.

I need more elbow room and I need some land of my own. I need to shake up my life more than I already have. I am ready for a change. I am moving to a beautiful place. New adventures and a new much much bigger garden. It is a good thing.

It is also probably good that I am closer to home as the time comes for my parents to pass.

The good far outweighs the bad and I don't think I am giving anything up. My time on Maui was and now it is time to move on.

I am currently working on what is most likely my last landscape installation and part of this garden is a Buttercup Tree and a Heiau/Pyrimid of all the rocks I pick up out of the yard.

Christopher C was Here.

The County Clerk said...

"Christopher C was Here."

Now THAT's appropriate poetry.

And chuck, I'm snickering now too. Ha!