Puu Mahoe literally means "the hill of twins," but it is so much more. Puu Mahoe is a cinder cone on the eastern flank of Haleakala. You have to go through three locked ranch gates to get there. It's worth the trip.
Mock orange hedges, once the toughest thing in town, are dying; they are drying up. What's going on? Mock orange is one of Hawaii's best drought-tolerant and attractive hedge plants. It is in the orange family, Rutaceae, and comes from driest parts of India.
Q: There is a koa meadow along the H-3 freeway. The meadow created by construction had lots of sprouting koa seedlings, but they were soon overtopped by weeds growing rapidly and smothering them. The weeds were recently cleared. Who is doing this?
Maybe we should grow some ko. That's the Hawaiian name for sugar cane. Did you know that it's a canoe plant? Ko was carried here by the ancient seafaring Polynesians, who developed many wonderful and ono varieties here in Hawaii.
One of my all-time favorite excursions when I lived on the island of Hawaii was four-wheeling down an old Jeep road in Keopuka to go snorkeling and exploring at the Captain Cook monument fronting Kealakekua Bay.
Loulu palms are the only palm native to Hawaii. People think coconuts (niu) are native, but they had to be hand-carried here by early Polynesian voyagers. In fact, coconuts were very hard to get to Hawaii in a growable condition, but that's another moolelo (story).
The Hawaiian language employs an elegantly logical approach in naming non-native plants. It will use the name of a Hawaiian plant with similar characteristics and add either the word "haole" (foreign origin) or "kahiki" (foreign; abroad).
Hawaii gardeners have the advantage of a year-round growing season that allows us to pick up plants any time of year and add them to our backyard collection. And local garden centers carry an abundance of ornamental shrubs, trees and herbs from which to choose.
"Oh, hello, ohelo!" said the happy hikers to the ohelo berry plant. Hikers love them because they are so pretty and tasty. They are not very common on Oahu, especially at lower elevations. We saw some on a ridge hike in the Waianae Mountains recently. There was one ripe shiny red fruit that we refrained from picking and took pictures of instead.
Although roses are thought of as plants for temperate climates, they have long been grown in Hawaii. For many years the University of Hawaii's Kula Station in Upcountry Maui has participated as a demonstration garden for the independent plant-testing organization All-American Selections by displaying its yearly rose winners.
Hala are bold, beautiful landscape trees, great privacy screens and a perfect Hawaiian xeriscape plant — tough and "unthirsty." Hala can "drink" pure salt water and survive, but like us, they prefer fresh water.
Poinsettias can transition from Christmas into New Year's decorations with some additional flair. Get dried, curly ting ting plant branches from a florist or craft supply shop, and place the stems into the pot and among the poinsettia foliage.
Your urban horticulturist recommends watering your garden plants slowly and deeply in the morning hours to keep plants hydrated throughout the day. Morning watering is not only the optimum time for plants to drink, but also conserves precious water resources.
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