Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Yellow Aloe by Flash Light

The beauty of this stand of Yellow Aloe in full bloom has proved illusive to capture because the background in all directions is such a jumble. Darkness eliminated the background and the camera flash illuminated the yellow flower spikes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bareroot Heliconia

If I don't need a backhoe to dig it up and move it, I am willing to sell it. Here we have five starts of Heliconia indica "Spectabilis" ready to go.

Before anyone starts thinking he isn't going to leave them a bush to piss behind, I have been doing this for the last sixteen years. These five starts of this Heliconia are about one quarter of a two year old clump and I have three clumps of the H. indica.

Taking bareroot divisions of most Heliconia and many of the Gingers is an easy and quick way to get mature growth from new plants. The rhizome or underground stem is the most important part of these plants. A big fat mature rhizome is a big head start for impatient people.

This leaf is what they are after with this Heliconia, a beautiful pinstripe of pink, green and red. The whole plant has a strong red coloration to it.

Red is the most coveted leaf color it seems for the "I want Color" crowd. It jars the eye enough for people to acknowledge there is indeed color in the garden and to approach some level of satisfaction that they are gardening and designing correctly.

The flower on this Heliconia is insignificant for the most part. It is a plain red upright bloom that blends in too much with the red plant to be distinct or showy. Even the form and size of the flower is a bit on the wimpy side so it isn't much good for cutting.

But those leaves! If you want a little more drama in a tropical flower arrangement or the coolest placemats for a dinner table, this is the plant.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Drama Rolls Downhill

Sometimes you have to mow the lawns with the help you have, not the help you wish you could have. Over the years I have met a real assortment of characters who have wanted to pursue a career in the dynamic field of landscaping and lawn care. Sometimes they are wonderful lovely assistants. Sometimes they are terribly inattentive, lazy and bad. Sometimes it is just an indifferent job to them to make some cash for a while.

On occasion they can have so much baggage it consumes their lives and that baggage can come rolling down my driveway even after they are gone.

In the fall of 2005 a tall, charming and handsome young man needed some extra spending money and my name was mentioned to him as a source of work. At six foot one with longish dark brown hair and a young man’s lean defined frame he had the looks and build to be the rack for any fashion designer’s clothes.

He would show up most of the time wearing board shorts and a scruffy thick dark and half grown beard. The hair might be matted and there were rarely shoes or even the notion of clean feet. Work was a secondary concern. Often there were very important matters he needed to attend to and he would be late or not show up at all to earn some extra spending money.

At 25 this handsome young man with an engaging personality was a drunk and a stoner in an already debilitating homeless kind of way. It was often a sad sight and just as often infuriating when he was unable to keep his word.

Among his many misfortunes was the delusional woman who had attached herself to him in the manner of a professional stalker.

That particular piece of his baggage has rolled down my driveway many times, a crazy woman putting on the pretense of normalcy while hunting for her prey. I try to be polite.

The wild curly bleached blond hair is the first thing you see. Then the surgically inflated breasts are presented. They are always on display, cinched in to bikini tops and lassoed together for lift. What ever other remnants of clothes she may be wearing are intended to display the rest of her killer body.

The face thank goodness hasn’t been enhanced with strange lips and stretched skin. It is a real face with a character of its own, not an attempt at Barbie’s. For forty she looks mighty good.

Then it starts. A great concern for the boy combined with a running list of her assets, property in Europe and her accomplishments, a grand career as a sculpture and the words don’t stop and the mouth won’t close. And it is all lies. She is just as penniless and homeless as the boy, but is skilled and lucky enough on a regular basis to blind all manner of men with her lassoed assets to come down my driveway in assortment of borrowed fancy cars and trucks.

All the time she is fishing, fishing for information I might have about the boy that she can use to find him or manipulate him.

I learned quickly that first fall that this is a Plan B situation. Always have a Plan B when he is involved and let him come and go with the winds. Just maybe he might see something in my steady sobriety that looked good to him the next time he blew in looking a little bit worse and a little more hurt.

That bleached blonde piece of baggage came down my driveway this morning after a long strongly suggested absence. The boy may have finally gotten away for good and she was on the desperate hunt.

He had told me the previous week that he and his numerous state appointed babysitters were trying to get him admitted to a strict long term two year residential treatment center on another island. No date had been set and they were trying to expedite the process. He wanted to make some money to take with him.

That piece of baggage came by wanting to claim her righteousness and truth while parsing the minutia of the boy’s lies, demanding I should believe nothing he said. She had been the caring one who took him to the airport to go to treatment. Really?

How could I not be upset and offended by him? Because he was a drunk, that is what they do to get by. I was on Plan B. It was not a sign that I didn’t care.

Snuck in to this verbal onslaught castigating the boy were the questions of when did I last see him? Did he say goodbye? Did I know he was going? I thought you said you took him to the airport. What is the point of this conversation?

I didn’t believe a word she said. When the time came to denounce me for having an opinion about a 25 year old drunk having a child with a homeless and delusional 40 year old who displayed her assets and accomplishments like a porn star looking for a new director and that I had no right to interfere in their personal life, politeness ended and our visit was over.

Later I called his cell number which I hardly ever did. I let him call me. The number had been disconnected. I take that as a good sign.

I say a prayer for a handsome young man with an engaging personality, a prayer of freedom and hope.

Some Sunday Morning Flowers

A little stroll through the garden this morning with camera in hand to see what would capture my attention and turn up nice on pixels.

Flame Vine, Pyrostegia ignea.

The ever blooming Butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea.

Yellow Alder, Turnera ulmifolia with one of our few Butterfly species in Hawaii.

Yellow Alder is a tough bug free small almost shrubby perennial flower. In full sun it blooms year round. Alas, the blooms while many are scattered and dispersed on the plant. It does not give that solid floral cover of say Impatiens and is thus look over and down upon as being insufficient and lacking in "Color".

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Plate Lunch for Dinner

Inside this bag is ono local kine grindz.

And you came here thinking this was a garden related blog. Most of the time it is. If you really want to see pretty flowers click that tag in the right sidebar.

I suppose in some way this is garden related. This is a main fuel source that keeps this gardener going.

A combo plate of Chicken Katsu and Teriyaki Beef, one scoop rice, green salad with Papaya Seed dressing. No PotatoMac salad I need to make a symbolic effort to stay trim.

You dip the breaded and fried chicken strips into the brown Katsu sauce. Everyone has their own secret recipe for the sauce. The basic ingredients are ketchup, shoyu and Worcestershire sauce spiced to taste.

After a long day of gardening what could be better than yummy takeout that is more filling and priced right?

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Wonder

If the grocery store in Clyde NC will have sushi made fresh daily in their deli?

I am sure the store will have rice. Will they sell it in 50 lb bags?

What about Chicken Katsu, Teriyaki Beef and PotatoMac salad?

Will there be Lychee and Haupia flavored yogurt?

What about Fried Green Peas? Oh My!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Neodypsis decaryi and Loud Bees

I have been reading that bees on the mainland are in distress and dying off. I do not know if that is true here as well. I do know that when certain plants are in bloom the number of bees attracted to them are enough to create an audible buzz from their wings.

Be sure to turn up the volume.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another Day is Done

The sun returns to the sea.

And a little higher in the Sky

My Desktop Image is the Future

Every time I turn my computer on or off
I see an image of my future.
This country road will take me home.
The entrance to my gravel driveway
will be three to four hundred feet
around the bend in the road
on the right hand side.

At the moment this road may be dusted with a covering of snow.
The trees are bare.
I bet it is cold.
Now is when the bones of my future garden
will need to be strong.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Say Goodbye to Agapanthus

Many California gardeners are likely to say good riddance. This tuberous perennial South African lily with cymes of blue or white bell shaped flowers in the late spring gets used a lot in California landscapes. At least it seems that way from garden pictures of the left coast. I haven't really spent much time there myself.

Like Hibiscus and Bougainvillea in Hawaii which are over used to the point of disdain, Agapanthus may be as common as dirt in California.

This plant is a workhorse in the landscape though. It is tough, bug free and a reliable bloomer. It is a nice foreground plant for taller shrubs and planted en mass it works better than a lot of groundcovers.

I had it planted in rows in my garden to use as stock plants. When needed I could dig and divide the clumps to plant bare root for new landscapes or to pot up the divisions to sell. I would replant a new start in the ground and repeat the process over and over.

That is over in Hawaii for now. I did not replant new starts when I dug these up today. It will begin a new in a new location. Starting I am sure by pillaging my parents mountaintop garden to begin my own.

The universe has always been kind to me in so many ways. I may not be a huge economic success, but I have always been given what I need when I need it. Life generally flows smoothly for me. Things fall into place, often with little effort on my part.

What was I going to do with these rows of Agapanthus in the ground and not really enough time to grow them out as potted plants? I certainly had no intent of leaving them for my landlords to kill. The universe sent me Phoebe.

She is one of my best customers and when I saw her in the other nursery in town I said hello of course. She asked me "Do you have...?"

"Agapanthus" I replied.

"Oh that would actually work for this job" she said.

So I dug up six big clumps of the large deep blue colored Agapanthus and made thirty starts for Phoebe and a chunk of change for me.

Now what am I going to do with that bigger row of the light blue standard Agapanthus?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Underneath the Landscape Fabric

Between selling and tossing plants the nursery is beginning to thin out. I have been able to remove the first section of landscape cloth that was laid down to slow the growth of weeds around the potted plants. A very old former bed of Lemon Grass, African Iris, and False Oregano underneath two Manila Palms and a Holly tree had been removed and covered over to make more room for growing potted plants.

Now it is being returned to open soil and what ever fate may be in store for it.

There is a lesson underneath the landscape fabric that lazy gardeners fooled by the garden products industry may need to see. To many times to count I have seen and been told by people that they are going to put down this fabric so they won't have to pull weeds. I always object.

This is what happened under the landscape fabric over the course of just two years. The roots of the Palms, Holly, Ti and Red Ginger still in the ground nearby all rose to the surface. They are gasping for air and trying to escape a putrid wet soil beneath.

Any remnants of organic matter has long since decomposed and the soil may have shrunk a bit as well. The bare soil itself is all that is left to feed these roots. There was not a bug, a worm or movement of any kind in this tangle of roots when I lifted the fabric.

Living on the side of a rocky volcano, my soil is thin to begin with. It isn't unusual for main roots to be near the surface. This scene however with many feeder roots at the top of the soil is not the norm in the rest of my garden where there is no fabric and the beds are mulched.

This interlocking network of roots sitting on top of a stressed soil is what that pretty petunia poking out through its little hole in the fabric is going to be competing with at some point when this stuff is used in a garden for any length of time. Not Good.

Just say No to Landscape Fabric if you want a real garden.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Other Pleasures

Puff puff

Exhale. Sigh.

Caught In The Act

Yes I am looking at you.

I have been tired, crabby and busy all weekend.
Busy is fine and productive.
Tired and crabby is significantly enhanced I am sure
by trying to fuel a biological machine
on half a diet of caffeine, nicotine and sugar.

It is like trying to grow healthy plants
on a diet of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The results are poor.

Somebody shoot me please
over to a luxury spa
where I can be detoxed and reprogrammed.

El Gecko is either sipping nectar
or having a high protein snack
on the weevils who like
to live in Torch Ginger.

It gives me pleasure to see him
when I am tired and crabby.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Clusia rosea

The Tree That Saved Itself must be aware of its potential imminent demise. It has decided to bloom. It has gotten a firm foot hold into the ground four feet below the deck and the pot it is allegedly living in and has been growing quite robustly.

Clusia rosea blooms regularly in the tropics. The tree does not put on much of a floral display with these unique large waxy white blooms tinged in pink. The flowers stay hidden demurely in the thick crown of leaves and go unnoticed most of the time.

When you do notice them they are rather astounding.

The petals of the flowers are as stiff and rubbery as the leaves on the tree.The delicate coloration creates the illusion of a papery blossom. Who knows what the proper botanical terminology would be to describe the Kiwi Fruit Layer Cake inside the petals that gets the business end of this process accomplished.

It was only half way open this morning. By late this afternoon the petals were fully spread to reveal their individual heart shaped outlines. The Kiwi Layer Cake inside was covered in a clear and shiny viscous liquid. It looked sugary enough to tempt you to swipe your finger across it for a taste of the icing.

Fully open this odd stiff flower is the size of a good bakeries generous muffin.

And it pops out of this hard round jumbo gumball in just one day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speaking of Garden Porn

Susan from GardenRant has promised us some regional garden porn from Rob Cardillo's Great Gardens of the Philadelphia Region. In the current deep freeze much of the mainland is experiencing many people must be huddled near their computers for warmth and waiting.

In a slightly warmer part of the country a very talented Garden Artisan is learning the ropes of all this new fangled internet technology and is beginning to display her pornolicious wares online in new places.

You like? There is more.
New Fangled was an appropriate choice of words. It looks like YouTube is down this morning.

Susan has also talked about Landscape Design professionals sometimes annoying and difficult to navigate websites. Maybe the problem is they payed a professional web designer to create their sites who may be more focused on the latest web technology than the gardens and designers they are trying to promote.

Perhaps a bit of a novice at technology and a master at Landscape Design can create their own website that is simple and powerful.

And how is it even possible at this late date to enter the garden blogging world with the title GardenPorn ? You would think that would have been scooped up long ago.

.....................................................................................Excuse me I wandered off on a tangent. I don't know enough about all this domain name stuff, but a little check on that name reveals a possible squatter on the Garden Porn dot com. Maybe someone else can explain what that information really means.

Now I must admit I did not just stumble across the talented Miss Derviss by accident in the last few days. We have had an on going cyber flirtation for quite some time. I am just happy to see her spread her wings a bit more in this new medium. Perhaps one day we will meet in person. Stranger things have been known to happen to stranger people.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home Made Heiau

It has sagged a little with age, but after fourteen and a half years from its completion of a year and a half of construction it is still standing. It has survived numerous floods located at the lowest point in the garden and a direct shot for all the rain water that can pour down my driveway. It survived the big earthquake back in October that caused a lot of minor structural building damage on the Big Island in Kailua-Kona.

After the quake I spent a little time shoring up its base and filling a few holes. Its biggest nemesis is the Torch Ginger which grew close and then began to try and grow through this massive pile of stones. I adjusted the irrigation to reduce the water nearby and cut and sprayed the stalks I could see living inside the stone.

The top of the Pile of Rocks is five feet at least. Next to it is a freakishly large Bird of Paradise at about six foot two. The Bird of Paradise was given to me as a shriveled up half dead cast off with about three leaves. Now it is a giant.

A pile of stones with no mortar still stands for now.

One Leaf

I will admit a predilection for embellishment. One thing I do not need to stretch the truth about is rubbish. It is generally big and there is a lot of it.

One leaf from a Royal Palm, Roystonea violacea, the most common species in Hawaii is longer than my truck. The brown thing behind the palm frond and below the passenger door is a single bract that covers the bloom stalk until it opens

And you thought my Bromeliads were big.

Monday, February 12, 2007

After the Useless Rocks are Moved

Some of you must be thinking there has to be more to that place than just a Useless Pile of Rocks. There is. Let's go on a brief little tour.

Here we are at the foot of the stairs that lead to the front door. These formal entry stairs were the very last thing built on this house. The front side of the house was a major source of useless rocks as the ground was prepped for planting.

An old Balinese lantern acts as focal point in this entry path. The main plants being used for structure in this garden are Dracaena fragrans 'Warneckei', Zamia floridana, Agave attenuata, Beaucarnea recurvata and Bird of Paradise. There is also Zephyranthes grandiflora planted in front of the Agaves.

The upper level has Asparagus fern as a ground cover on a steep slope that continues down to the base of the Balinese lantern. The lower level has a dwarf variegated Rhoeo as a ground cover. They gotta have some color you know. The hedge line at the top along the chain link fence is Dwarf Poinciana, Caesalpinia pulcherrima. It is not in bloom at the moment but is the orange flowered form. Orange and purple. Shocking! Something to match the Bird of Paradise flowers.

It may not look to lush now, but trust me, when the ground covers fill in and the plants put on a little more heft it will be plenty. I was aiming for a simpler less cluttered look for the main entry. I do clutter around the corner.

Taking a left we follow a path that goes under the stairs to a downstairs service door and the second half of the front yard. On the right behind the Agave is common Red Ginger. It will grow to eight feet tall and reach the bottom of the landing above, screening the next part of the garden from view until you move out from under the stairs.

This is Tropical Clutter. Behind the Travellers Palm fronds you can see the height of the more established older portion of the landscape. The shorter foreground plant in this bed is Justicia brandegeana 'Red Pinecone'.

The newly seeded Centipede lawn is just beginning to turn green with Annual Rye grass. This gives instant lawn while the slower Centipede gets established. The Rye also acts as cheap distracting larger bird food for the voracious doves to prevent them from eating all the smaller expensive Centipede seed.

All the useless rocks ended up down there. This is taken from the first floor back deck of the main house that is the same level as the front entry. This deck is above the second story roofline of the cottage below on the left.

All those rocks from way up top went way down there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Under The Buttercup Tree

A Meditation on Tree Trunks

It isn't just the flowers that make me so obsessive about this tree. The trunk has a Baobab like quality. Things could be living in there that we can't see.

2-11-07 6:30pm
Updated for further inspection.

Here we have a closeup of a protuberance cavity combo that was working somebodies nerves and causing farm animal flashbacks. This may not help.

There really could be some thing living in there that we are not able to see.

Friday, February 09, 2007

More Rocks

The last of the construction debris has finally been removed from the guest parking area that will soon be covered in 3/4 inch grey gravel. I have landscaped to make a paradise and we are putting in an extra gravel parking lot on the only relatively level piece of ground on the whole lot.

While cleaning up the existing bed along the fence line on the left and smoothing the ground a bit more before the gravel gets spread, what do you suppose I should find. More useless rocks. Plenty more useless rocks. The Organized Pile of Useless Rocks grew another foot taller.

Initially I was planning on taking the grey gravel right up to the base of the stairs and the base of the Pyramid. That would be simple and easy. Homeowner 1 was beginning to crack under the regular maintenance and generation of heaps of rubbish from the established landscape and was ready to listen to my make it simple message as huge swaths of new landscaping went in.

Then one night at home I had a vision. Perhaps it was because the space was starting to open up as the construction debris pile began shrinking and the space began to have more of a voice.

I saw a small cool green lawn at the base of the stairs and in front of the Organized Pile of Useless Rocks. I saw a comfortable spot for people to be able to come close to fondle and pet this pile and wonder. I saw a separation between parking and art.

The irrigation line is stubbed out at the base of the stairs for the grass treads already. (I hope they have good home owners insurance!) It would be no problem to add a few more heads to this station for a small cool green lawn. It would be almost as easy adding a lawn to the picture with Paint.

It seems Homeowner 1 and I were having the same vision. Homeowner 2 last week says, "You know H1 was thinking he doesn't want the gravel to come up to the stairs."

Good, neither do I.

I have had a vision.

Double Feature Creature Show

Hibiscus has been having a lot of bad hair days in Hawaii in the last several years. It seems every new pest that arrives has a fondness for this most common of shrubs. Breeders have engorged the flowers to outlandish sizes and created freakish colors that appeal to the American Psyche and a Pavlovian demand for color in the landscape. Everyone has to have them despite the constant battle with the bugs.

Huge flowers are not the only thing that can pop up on Hibiscus. The nymphs of our newest whitefly species are oval-shaped and produce an abundance of long, white, waxy filamentous material which can cover the leaf and be observed from afar. Or it can be observed up close and personal.

It would not surprise me in the least if someone some where is trying to breed a plant that comes naturally with a long fur coat. Once that is accomplished then they can start working on new colors.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mustache Rainbow

This was in the sky this morning.

Since then it has been grey, cold and breezy. As usual it decides to rain a bit when I am done with work. I am freezing right now. I hear they have actual machines that generate heat in the houses up north.

The template change is done. I can't seem to convince the archives that it is 2007. This photo has been pre-reduced to %25. It won't be so huge when you click on it, but it will be expanded from the blogger page size at least. It seems extra steps may be needed for photos now.

This is how it works in my IE browser. Different browsers do different things I hear.

Enter Here

Orchid Blossoms at lunch time.

Come inside for a little break.

4:05pm Hawaiian Time
Hang on tight everybody cause I am changing the template.

4:45 pm Hawaiian Time
Somebody tell Google and Blogger it is 2007
Otherwise I like this drop down menu for the archives.

Now back to the daily grind.

Still playing with photo sizes in this new beta Blogger.

I Switched

To the newer beta Blogger last night and there are some things I am not liking so far. I still need to switch to the new template format, but will wait until I have more time to rebuild the sidebar links and buttons. Maybe the template change will fix what is bugging me.

In the meantime this is a photo experiment using my favorite Buttercup Tree of course. Before the switch you could click on an image and it would open on a new page. It would open in a size bigger than on the blogger page but still small and could be expanded to full size.

Now they seem to open in the huge full size and are slower to load and can't be seen in the intermediate size.

The top photo is full size. The second photo I reduced by %50. I didn't have to resize my pictures before. It seemed to be automatic. Am I going to have to do more work now before I upload pictures to Blogger?

Dr. Leda Prunes Her Roses

I had only gone out into the nursery to stand all the potted plants back up that had fallen over in the Big Wind and my two twelve foot tall long stemmed roses said, "Prune Me!"

Okay I will cut off some of your branches that are leaning from their own weight and the effects of the wind.

Snip snip.

No I said, "Prune Me and I mean Prune me Good!"

Fine I will prune the Red Rose, it is smaller and won't take long. Snip snip snip the Red Rose is done. No gloves, no shirt, no shoes, I am done. I have to make sure all the potted plants are standing up.

"Prune Me Too Damn it!"

Ok Fine. I will cut off some of your yellow flowering lower branches. I am not wearing a shirt. I don't use gloves. I am in my slippas and the skeeters are biting me. That is enough for now.

"Finish It!"

But I was saving you for Dr. Leda to prune when she gets better and comes to Maui.

"Prune me now!"

So I pruned both of my roses hard and thought of Elizabeth aka Lymphopo aka Dr. Leda Horticulture waiting for the results of her scans post chemo therapy, still not able to venture into her own garden to prune her roses, thinking good thoughts for her.

Dr. Leda didn't need my roses. Today she got to go outside in her own garden and work till she was tired from pruning her own roses. She kicked cancer's butt. Now she can go back outside and play in the dirt and get stabbed by thorny roses and not worry about the germs and a compromised immune system from chemo.

She got to love doing today what I am pretty much totally over and take entirely for granted. There is not a single day of the year when there is not some ding, some dent, some wound on my flesh from jungle maintaining. My sole precaution for my beleaguered skin is Dial anti-bacterial soap. Yea like that really helps. I was blessed with the genetics of the survivors of pestilence and plague. It works for me.

I just pruned two roses and still have thousands of plants to unload in the next four months. There are sure to be many more dings and dents to my skin in the near future. I hear people wear more clothes up north.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Three Field Mice

I had mentioned before
In Wild Basil and Buzzing Bees
There were also Mice
Munching on this Basil

Leaning on the deck railing
Eating a banana nut muffin
Dribbling crumbs
I look out at the garden
I detect motion

Mouse Motion

I can't get close
They drop to the ground
And hide

Leaning on the deck railing
I push the telephoto button
And get closer

My tiny camera
With many functions
Lets me take pictures

Of Three Tiny Field Mice