Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hawaii: Uncle Robert’s night market in Kalapana

Entirely by accident, Wednesday turned out to be the day of the farmers market. After thoroughly enjoying the Hilo farmers market in the late morning, we went to the night market at Uncle Robert’s in Kalapana Village, about 20 minutes from our house in Pahoa. It had been highly recommended, and in turned out to be an early highlight of our trip.

A legend in these parts, Uncle Robert Keli’iho‘omalu is the patriarch of a large family who live on a four-acre compound literally at the end of the road: You simply follow the Kapoho-Kalapana Road, locally referred to as the Red Road for the original red cinder pavement (now asphalt) until you can go no further. From the hundreds of cars parked along the road, you’ll know when you get close. As Uncle Robert says, “Where the road ends, the aloha begins.”


Uncle Robert’s credo


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hawaii: Hilo farmers market

This morning we went to the farmers market in Hilo, the largest town on the east side of Hawaii. In 2012, Huffington Post rated it as one of the ten best farmers markets in the U.S. What was particularly interesting for us was the huge selection of tropical fruits we don’t see at home, plus many Asian vegetables I had never even laid eyes on before.


The Hilo farmers market is open every day from 7:00am to 4:00pm, with about 30 booths open. But on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the market expands dramatically to over 200 vendors, of which at least 150 are selling all manner of arts and crafts. I even saw booths for on-site massages, fortunetelling and the like.

Here are some photos I took. I would have taken more, but the market was crammed and I was juggling a bag of fruit part of the time.


Bamboo shoots for cooking. Unfortunately, the sign didn’t say which species of bamboo.

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

I knew I wasn’t in my bed at home when I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the ocean roaring outside. And when I grabbed my camera at 5:45 this morning, this is what greeted when I stepped out on the deck of the house we’re renting:


Yep, definitely not Kansas anymore—or, in our case, the Sacramento Valley.

This is the eastern shore of the Big Island of Hawaii. We’re renting a house outside of Pahoa, also known as the Big Islands “hippie capital.” I can’t attest to that yet, having just arrived yesterday evening, but I will report back.

I do know that this area is far away from everything, which is why it is quiet and so reasonably priced. We’re spending six days here to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the west and the Hilo area just to the north.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

#GBFling14: Lan Su Chinese Garden

The first garden we visited on day 1 of the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling was the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, it is surrounded by a mix of modern high rises and more traditional brick buildings.


This walled garden encloses an entire city block, about 1 acre.


When you step through the gates, which I thought were remarkably beautiful, you leave the hustle and bustle of 21st century Portland behind and embark a journey back in time to 16th century China.


Friday, July 18, 2014

#GBFling14: Sean Hogan Garden

The first garden I saw after I arrived in Portland, Oregon for the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling was also one of the most beautiful. It wasn’t on the tour, but I was privileged enough to enjoy it throughout my stay. It belongs to Sean Hogan, the owner of Cistus Nursery, whose generosity in putting me up at his house I will always appreciate.

Sean is not only a consummate plantsman, he’s also an accomplished garden designer. His garden is a graceful tapestry of greenery and hardscape, with the occasional touch of bling, as evidenced by the chandelier you see in the photo below.


But let’s start in front of the house. Above the front door, for everyone to see, is the motto of Sean’s realm: Hortisexuality. “Horti” as in garden, and “sexuality” as in sizzle and allure.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

2014 Garden Bloggers Fling plant haul

Sometimes it’s easier to start at the end. Before I begin posting about the gardens and nurseries we visited during the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, Oregon, I want to introduce you to the plants I brought back.


Yes, everything you see in the photo above was in my suitcase!

Before I left Portland, I bare-rooted most plants (two small Agave victoria-reginae and a Yucca linearifolia stayed in their pots), wrapped the roots in newspaper, and then put them in plastic bags. Thanks to the gracious help of Loree Bohl of Danger Garden this didn’t take long. I then placed the wrapped plants in my suitcase and stabilized them with clothing to keep them from shifting around. Apparently this approach worked very well; aside from a couple of broken leaves, there was no damage at all. I should add, though, that I had a direct flight so my luggage wasn’t tossed about as much as it might have on a longer flight with more connections.

Below is my bounty from Portland. All plants came from Cistus Nursery, which we visited during the Fling, with the exception of the cut leaf emperor oak (Quercus dentata ‘Pinnatifida’) you see in the lower left-hand corner. That plant came from Gossler Farms, one of the plant vendors at Friday night’s banquet—yes, we had a banquet and got swag bags just like Hollywood celebrities.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2014 Garden Bloggers Fling preview

I just got back from five jam-packed days in Portland, Oregon, attending the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling. We visited private and public gardens, nurseries, and even Timber Press, one of the world’s preeminent publisher of gardening, horticulture and natural history books. The organizers went above and beyond to create a memorable experience for us, and I couldn’t have been happier. I took well over 1,000 photos so it’ll be a while before I get them all processed. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what I’ll be showing you.

The collage overview format below is a shameless rip-off of what Alan Lorence of It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening did on his own blog the other day. Don’t they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

140711 Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Cistus Nursery

Cistus Nursery

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Heading to the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, OR

pdx_fling_logoI’ll be offline until next week because I’m heading to Portland, Oregon for the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling. This is the 7th gathering of garden bloggers; most of them are from North America, but a surprising number will come across the Big Pond.

To give you an idea of what we’ll be doing, here is the official itinerary. Three days jam-packed with garden and nursery visits and hanging out with liked-minded individuals from all over the country—and indeed the world. It will be fantastic!

Starting next week, I will have extended coverage of all the wonderful places we visited. Please check back then.

One of our destinations will be the Portland Japanese Garden. Check out my previous posts about this stunning place:

  • Portland Japanese Garden: Design
  • Portland Japanese Garden: Plants
  • Portland Japanese Garden: Ornaments
  • Portland Japanese Garden in the fall: Part 1
  • Portland Japanese Garden in the fall: Part 2
  • Portland Japanese Garden in the fall: Part 3


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cousin Itt moves in

Yesterday started out on a sad note as I removed yet another potted bamboo. This Sinobambusa tootsik ‘Albovariegata’ had been growing for years in a large bowl (29” wide by 14” tall) next to the family room slider. With its beautifully variegated leaves it was one of my favorite bamboos. Unfortunately, I had never been completely happy, most likely because of our high heat and low humidity.


This year, at the peak of the drought, I simply hadn’t watered it enough and it had been in a tailspin for months. I finally decided to put it out of its misery.


This freed up a prime spot in our backyard…