“AWAKENING” at the Honolulu Museum of Art, aka The Art Academy

A Kewl Way To Make Lei

By Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst heidibornhorst.blog

My friend Lexi Hada contacted me about a volunteer opportunity. When Lexi calls you know it’s going to be a FUN and interesting time!

We joined some fellow volunteers, including some famous Lei makers at 9:00 a.m. at Linekona.

Lexi and Kaylee

I was so impressed with the Volunteers and staff joining with the Artist Rebecca Loise Law and her bouncy fun entertaining husband Andy.

Just being in Linekona is a gift and it brings back memories of other art projects, Classes in Art, wood shows, teaching and learning moments with art and our Honolulu Community.

Rebecca and Andy had asked for flowers which they would dry (in an upstairs room with newspapers spreadout on the floor)

We had brought big bags of floral gifts, tasty treats, and lei that we made to share from our gardens.

The Laws and HoMA worked with the Honolulu Botanical Gardens for a collection of great florals from Foster and Koko Crater Botanical gardens, including Quipo, which is a huge, stout trunked tree from South America, and is related to the African Baobab. The big, winged seeds of the Quipo which we’ve used as intriguing decorations over the years were strung into giant lei for the Awakening art show.

Cup and saucer plant on copper wire for exciting art show Awakening

We were given various dried flowers to work with:

Phalaenopsis orchids

RAINBOW SHOWER flowers

Cup and saucer

Cook pine needles

Sandpaper vine 

Strands of super fine copper wire is used for stringing. We would carefully poke through the flower, like using a lei needle, or wrap the plant material with the fine wire. We spaced out the flowers by making an artful twist in the wire.

Sandpaper Vine

It sounds tedious but the time passed quickly, it was fun to learn a new style, which I likened to Lei making. Andy Law (husband of the artist) came bouncing into the room, and talked to us about the process, Life and gardens in England, Wales, and Scotland. 

Three hours sounded like a long time to volunteer but Andy kept us entertained and the process was fascinating. I was so busy crafting and learning, visiting with the other volunteers and seeing their workmanship, that time flew by.

I congratulate the Honolulu Museum of Art staff for nurturing us volunteers; from free parking, snacks, and working together on such an engaging Floral Art project. There were several staffers to greet and orient us volunteers and Volunteer coordinator Kaylee Clark stayed with us in our lei making session, encouraging us, and sharing about art exhibits and other events at the Museum.

Clark stayed with us in our lei making session, encouraging us, and sharing about art exhibits and other events at the Museum.

Awakening is a year long exhibit in the upstairs L-wing. The Laws have produced these kinds of floral exhibits and art work previously but this is the first time in Hawaii. They brought dried materials and continued the process of gathering and drying flowers from Hawaii.

The main volunteer tasks for this project were cutting and bending of wire along with stinging of flowers. Flower donations came from volunteers. Flowers used each day varied on availability. The process was collecting, drying, and then a 3-day freeze. HoMA tried to keep each day different, as there were a lot of repeat volunteers and they wanted to keep the experience new and interesting. Approximately 250 Volunteers helped from August 16- September 16, 2022.

Andy and Rebecca arrived in Hawaii in early August 2022 and will stay and coordinate the assembly and opening of the art exhibit, which will be up for a year to enjoy.

They have had similar floral exhibits all over the world, including England.

​Artful friends Marin Philipson, Debbie Choo, and Patty Mowat joined Lexi and me.

Amazing long time and Awesome lei makers Joyce Spoehr a HBG Retiree and active volunteer, Iris Fukunaga who still works at HBG (Honolulu Botanic gardens) and Dyanne Taylor a Master lei maker, famous for her tiare bud lei, is another City Parks and Recreation retiree(and fellow surfer) who Volunteers at all the fun plant and lei events. My Friend and great gardener Rosemary was there too. It was so fun to have the master craftswomen there, as we all learned this new technique.

I had so much fun making my lei, first with Phaleonopsis or Butterfly Orchids, then one with red cup and saucer and then with the Lavender cup and saucer. I had never noticed before, working with this as a fresh floral, the different shapes of the dried petals.

Loved the garlic vine flowers for a strand too. This is an old fashioned kama`aina plant that we do not see too often these days. I love the striking lavender color when it is fresh, and it dries very nicely. Seems like the petals are tough enough to hold up

As we completed each long strand (sixty inches measured by the length of our worktables), the lei strands were gently laid into big, long floral boxes, with the layers separated by tissue paper.

The process, of drying the flowers first was something like how botanists and taxonomists, like at the Bishop Museum or National Tropical Botanical Gardens, or even Kew Gardens in the U.K. make dried Herbarium specimens of plants to document and study.

Such a process and so many Na lima Kokua (helping hands) putting the art exhibit together.

As we were wrapping up, the artist herself joined us and we bedecked her with lei and floral gifts. Slender and dressed in black, Rebecca Louise Law looked amazing and happy with our floral adornments. She spoke a few quiet words thanking us.

Rebecca Louise and Andy Law

I thought about what a wonderful team she and her husband Andy make, him warm and bouncy and super enthusiastic, and she reserved and artistic.

Another amazing thing that happened was that the Director of the museum, Halona Norton-Westbrook, joined us to say mahalo, and spoke briefly with us volunteers.

I was talking with my neighbors on their sunset stroll and found that Julia Weiting was also volunteering. Every time she went, they gave her different florals to work with.

I was so inspired after about what I could make next! I also thought a lot about the process and which other flowers or foliage we might incorporate. A fresh style of lei making! A quick and fun one to teach keiki, a way to decorate homes or papale!

I am so excited to see the completed exhibit, called “Awakening.” Its opens to the public on Saturday September 17, 2022, and continues to be on display until September 2023.

Rebecca Louise Law: Awakening

Tuberoses for our friendship garden

By Heidi Bornhorst

The fragrance of tuberose! One of my Mother’s favorites, as a lei of tuberose and yellow roses are what my dad got her for their simple wedding ceremony. She also loved the smell of pineapple, because my dad gifted her with those too!

I like them in a lei, combined with other flowers like roses, carnations or orchids.

Florists carry this fragrant lei and if you grow your own, imagine what flowers from your garden you can combine with tuberose?

It’s an old-fashioned flower.

We used to grow a lot of them here in Hawaii. When I worked at Evergreen nurseries in Waimanalo, in 1978, one of my friends there, was working a second job, harvesting tuberose.

Her name was Estralita, and she was from the PI and recently married.  I think her new family really made her work hard!  At two jobs and at home.  She said they harvested in the dark using headlamps.

She told me that her named meant “star” and how appropriate that she worked at night when the stars came out!

She taught me the saying ‘Mabuhay las Philippinas !!’  Long life to Filipino women!

I wonder what happened to her, as she was kind, nice FUN and hardworking.

Tuberoses remind me of her, and I say a special prayer for her happiness. 

I got some from Estralita back then and grew it in our family garden in Makiki.  It did well for a while and even sent up a flower spike.  But then it got a very bad infestation of mealy bugs.  I treated it but they were too severe, and the plant died. I was sad.

Maybe tuberose does not like Makiki black sand as a potting media? Or it needs cooler conditions. Time to do some research and find out!

​The other day I got an email from my friend Ruth Fujita, another great gardener.

She was offering us, her Budleys, tuberose bulbs. She had a big plant and dug it up, dried out the bulbs a bit and had some to share with da girls.

So, Rachel Morton and I went up there, after a visit to Foster garden to see the Triennial art exhibit.

Ruth shared how she got the tuberose bulbs:

Our niece Tia C. had gone traveling.  She needed omiyage for her epic Aunt Ruth and so in the airport she bought a bulb in a package.

Ruth grew them and was now sharing them with Lynne, Cheryl, Doris Susan Young, Annie, and me and Rachel.

Such an epitome of the Friendship Garden: Grow something with love (and good horticulture!) and then share it with your friends.

With rare plants, this is a Botanic Gardenconcept: Share it and keep good records. If yours dies, you know right where you can get a replacement.

With plants of sentiment like this tuberose, its mainly sharing the wealth and the stories.  But it will be epic for us all to see them grow and Bloom!

People call it a bulb but the roots are actually a rhizome (just like our fragrant gingers)

Fragrant, showy flowers in the late, HOT summertime lead many to plant tuberose bulbs. The scientific name is Polianthes tuberosa, and it also called the Polyanthus lily. It is in the Lily family, LILIACEAE.

Florists and nurseries sometimes “force” tuberose to bloom year round with artificial lighting.  

Tuberose has a strong and enticing fragrance makes it a popular plant in our Hawaii gardens. Clusters of large white blooms form on stalks that can reach 4 feet (1 m.) in height and rise from grass-like clumps.

Tuberose was discovered by explorers in Mexico as early as the 1500’s.  It was one of the first flowers to be imported to Europe, where it was very popular in Spain. 

It likes well drained, compost enriched soil.  It likes FULL SUN especially hot afternoon sun (which not all plants do) 

Plant them 2-3” deep.

In cold regions they dig out the roots in winter.  In Hawaii we can dig them out hand let them rest but not for too long or they will dry out.

There are single and double flowered varieties and now we are seeing them in different colors like yellow and pale pink.

Pandan Wangi

By Heidi Bornhorst

Pandanus amaryllifolius
Working at the Honolulu Zoo, we were helping move and relocate plants for the community gardens from behind the zoo on Paki, to a new garden on Leahi and Paki.  As we were helping the (unhappy) gardeners, I heard Victorino Acorda, one of our best Gardeners and true plantsman exclaim in delight!
‘Pandan wangi!  Makes the rice taste so good Heidi!  I’ve been looking for this plant since I moved here from the PI!’
He was almost crying; he was so happy!
Then the other day I was stuck in morning traffic on Mo`oheau St in Kapahulu.  To amuse myself I looked closely at gardens along the street.  There was a really nice garden with a southeast Asia flavor.  First, I noticed nice clumps of lemon grass and some healthy papaya trees.
What was the clumping bright green plant in front of the lemon grass?  PANDAN WANGI!


So attractive in this landscape design and so useful.
We have it growing in the southeast Asian plant section at Ho’omaluhia Botanic Garden.  One year it was a featured plant at our plant sale, and we hope to feature it again once we can open up our gardens safely once again.
It is fairly easy to grow.  You can divide the clump and make new plants.  
 

Those who know this plant usually just call it pandan. There are many ways you can cook with it.
Some call Pandan, the Vanilla of the east, or the vanilla of Southeast Asia.
You can boil with whole leaves and combine them with other ingredients.  You can wrap foods in them and then cook them (like we do with Ti leaves).
If you’re handy with your blender, grind some fresh leaves with water and then freeze the juice in a mold or ice cube tray and use it for drinking or cooking later.
You could also add it to GREEN SMOOTHIES
Some just buy a bottle of pandan paste.  Lexi had some from Singapore, she had it quite a while I smelled it and then read the label.  It smelled really ono. The ingredients not so much.
How do we make it from the fresh leaves that we can grow in our Gardens?
You can just chop it up and add to the rice pot as you cook your rice.
You can make tea with the leaves. You can add your favorite tea like jasmine to the pot.  Pour hot water over both and let steep for Five minutes.
I made some with just hot water, poured over and steeped over leaves. it tasted ok
On 9 28 21 trying strip leaves lengthwise in 3s, add Olena and ginger powders, and three mamaki leaves, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so. It Smells really good!
There are lots of Creative and Foodie things you can do with pandan:
• Twist the leaves into Roses like we do with Ti leaves
• Little cups for deserts
• You can make green smoothies with it
• Pandan Chicken and Pandan Rice
• Grilled Fish stuffed with Pandan are just a few recipes that are popular.
And many desserts, variously featuring coconut milk, and various sugars like palm sugar.
If you look online there are lots of recipes, some quite layered and complex.  Some really pretty drinks and you insert a leaf tip to give it that final Flare of Gourmet Drink décor.
It gives the dish a lovely green color and subtle flavor.
I took some in mixed arrangement as a hostess gift for Lexi Hada and Barney Robinson.  One of their guests, Teua from the Cook Islands admired it, drew it out of the arrangement and sniffed it.
As he ran his hands over the glossy thornless leaves, we talked about it.  He recognized it as a Pandanus, or HALA relative but NO THORNS! We all wondered how it would be for weaving.
The Latin name, Pandanus amaryllifolius refers to this. The growth is much like a hala, but the leaves are soft and shiny with no thorns.
Besides being ONO, it’s a very attractive garden accent or spotlight plant in your garden.
I also like it as an exciting and exotic foliage element in a Tropical Flower arrangement.
We plan to feature it at a Future Covid 19 safe FOHBG plant sale.
 

Nutrition of Mountain Apples

By Heidi Bornhorst

Local Hawaii people are so Funny!

Nowadays people go nuts for Mangos and lychee and `ULU.

Even to far as buying them in the store!

Don’t you all think we should have some fruit trees in our gardens? And share with friends and neighbors? Let’s plant and grow some fruits today!

As kids, mangoes were like stray kittens, people would beg you to take them! We got jobs raking up the fallen smashed ones from super tall trees for elderly neighbors.

I could never get enough lychee even tho the trees were abundant in Makiki where I grew up. Lychee enticed me to move to Wahiawa where we had two lychee trees and then planted a third.

When you offer people mountain apples or `ohi`a `ai some are enthusiastic, some will help you pick and rake up and some meet the offer with distain.

Funny.

Nutritionally they are great; lots of hydration for your body, and rich in vitamins C, Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and super rich in potassium.

Also known as `Ohi`a `ai, the `ohi`a that you eat (`Ai) they were carried here by ancient Polynesians in their sailing canoes, an important part of our “imported” landscapes and gardens.

What a gorgeous gift to find when hiking the low moist forests. This fruit will keep you hydrated on your hike!

And you can bring home a seed and grow it to commemorate that special hike. Surprise and share with your hiking buddies at the next festive occasion.

They are nice to grow in our gardens too. A small to medium tree with pretty leaves and bark most of the year and then BOOM! in flower so pretty magenta pom poms

A month or two later you will have that juicy ono fruit. Like jewels up in the tree canopy.

Besides eating them straight off the tree, you can slice and add to fruit salads.

Or as my niece Jalene found out for us, you can make pickles from them to savor for another day. 

My friend and akamai farmer Deborah Ward makes a mean mountain apple pie and you can also make mountain apple sauce.

Add some slices to your favorite cold beverage.

You can make a lei with the smaller green and white fruit.  Store the lei in the fridge and when you wear it “Fruit cooling air conditioning” !  I made one for my then boss, Sydney Iaukea at a Kupuna Hawaiian studies training session and the lei kept her cool all day.

It’s an unusual lei today.   But easy to make and fun and unusual to wear.

​The scientific name is Eugenia mallaccensis and they are in the MYRTACEAE plant family along with `Ohi`a lehua, guavas, rose apples, Eucalyptus, and more.

Some call them Malay apple as they are native to the Malay peninsula and southeast Asia.

We have different varieties in Hawaii, a pure white one, a seedless one, squat plump Hawaiian variety and long and big Tahitian variety.

Many grew naturally in the wet lowland tropics of Ho`omaluhia Botanic Garden and then we planted more in the “Kahua Kukui” Polynesian plants section of this amazing and FREE botanic garden in Kane`ohe.

They are easy and fun to grow from seeds.  Save a seed from an ono one and plant it right away.

Besides the ono fruit and attractive flowers and tree, bringing shade and birds to yoru garden, mountain apples have medicinal uses.

The bark is a sore throat cure.   If you feel a sore throat coming on or are getting a cold, scrape off some young bark, rinse it and chew it.  It has lots of tannins and this truly can help ward off a cold.

The nutritious fruit will also help keep you healthy !

Finger limes, a fun pretty, newish fruit for Hawaii gardens

By Heidi Bornhorst

Citrus grow well in our Hawaii gardens, trees come in all shapes and sizes. Many people ask me for smaller fruit trees, or even shrubs and finger lime fits this to a T!

 One fun one that I first heard about and got to sample while visiting gardens on Hawaii island (a few years ago) with fellow horticulturist Erin Lee is the finger lime.

It is so Fun to eat! Cut open a ripe one and just squeeze it out like wasabi paste !  Fun for keiki to learn about, grow and eat more healthy fruit.

The little fruitlets inside can be white, green, or pink. The skin of the fruit as well as the insides, comes in different colors.

 So pretty and decorative for your Holiday table, whatever the Holiday is!  Let’s celebrate being alive and learning to grow and eat new things from our own gardens !

And sharing with friends and neighbors!

Amazing at your next gourmet potluck!  (when it safe to have a pa`ina). Imagine pairing it with home made sushi ! or on fish, or in drinks

Lee suggests growing it in a large decorative ceramic pot in full sun.  Once it’s growing vigorously, you can shape it as a standard or into a topiary on your sunny lanai or party patio !

It came to us from Australia, a land of many wonderful and unusual plants.

Scientists call it Citrus australasica and it is in the Rutaceae or Citrus Family. It is also sometimes called “caviar lime”.

 It is a rambling, very thorny, under-story shrub or small tree, from lowland, subtropical rain-forests, and dry rain-forests in the coastal border region of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.

Happily, we are now growing finger limes in Hawai’i. We need to grow more of them and test varieties and find out which are best for our micro-climates.

The shrub is variable in height and its leaves and mixed in with thorns. Buds are purple, petals are white . The flowers are tiny . The fruit is cylindrical, 4–8 inches long, sometimes slightly curved, and shaped like a fat finger. Finger limes come in a range of colors, both inside and out

HOW DO YOU EAT IT?

One fun way to prepare eat this fruit is to cut the ends off and use a  rolling pin and roll out the small, caviar-shaped vesicles. The fruit caviar can be used wherever you would like a squeeze of citrus.  Or just cut and squeeze out the fruitlets like a tube of wasabi paste.

For a fun family pa`ina, have your keiki help you prepare your gourmet fruit platter and let them open and squeeze out the tart juicy insides.

In France they call it “lemon Caviar’ and it commands a very high price in Gourmet restaurants.  They must grow them in greenhouses there.

This could be a model for us in Hawaii. A rare, pretty and flavorful gourmet treat sold for a good price.  We could develop our own varieties that do thrive here.

This is true Horticulture and why the U.H. could sure use a Tropical fruit specialist to help grow our farms and support farmers.

I spoke with amazing ex UH extension agent Jari Sugano.  She was growing finger limes as a hedge crop at Waimanalo experimental station.  She mentioned how thorny they are.

Clients do ask me for thorny plants to help secure their homes and gardens. This could be a plus for farm security but does make harvesting tricky.

Tree crops are good for the land as they are perennials and you don’t have to work over the soil like with veg crops.  This is the concept of permaculture,

Frank Sekiya and Lynn Tsuruda of Frankie’s Fruit Tree Nursery in Waimanalo are growing finger limes. I talked to them about their experience with this interesting citrus fruit.  

Douglas Himmelfarb was living at the Marks estate in Nu’uanu and he gave Sekiya some varieties.   The California varieties do fruit well in California but not always here in Hawaii.

Some in the field that Sekiya planted got huge, and never bore fruit. Some only a few fruits; Sekiya relates that there is so much variability. 

Ken Love, a major Fruit advocate on Hawaii island, gave Sekiya some cuttings, and he say it fruits all year,  and it’s the slightly pink one. The outside of the fruit is kind of purple and  matures to green, if it gives a little, that’s how you tell its ripe enough to pick, the fruit will have sort of a spongy feel.

We have so many micro-climates and soil types in Hawaii, that we all can experiment with which ones grow and fruit best in our own ecosystem. People have had them in their yards for a while, says Sekiya and some grew well, and yet barely fruited,

They graft finger limes and can also start them from cuttings.  Grafting is quicker, but it’s a practice and skill that not many have today.  (Something to learn and practice, while we stay safely at home ?!)

Root stocks (the bottom part of the graft) are important.  As many people prefer smaller trees, for semi dwarf  trees ‘Rubidoux trifoliate’ were advised at one time for their dwarfing effects, but as Tsuruda says,  ‘We don’t use the Rubidoux trifoliate anymore since citrus  trees grow fairly slowly in Hawaii and are easily pruned’. 

  ‘Heen naran’ is a good root stock.  It’s from India,  U.H. highly recommends it.  It’s Good for most citrus here in Hawaii. The Botanical name for Heen Naran is Citrus lycopersicaeformis.  (The fruits of this root stock are small, round, super seedy inside,  and look something like a tomato, Lyco is a Latin name referring to tomatoes, as in the healthy lycopene, we’re encouraged to eat more of)

‘Some people like it it for New year’s décor, as the size and shape fits very well on the mochi stack since it’s an inch in diameter. It’s very productive and very seedy’, says Sekiya. 

The U.H. has had Trees at Poamoho Experimental Station for 30 years, all grafted with the Heen Naran root stock, which seemed to survive over 30 years while some others were grafted to different root stocks.

Most Citrus of the good, preferred varieties are sweet all year not only summer.  Only the pummelo seems to be sweeter in summer than in winter. 

Sekiya says that Tristeza virus is what can weaken and  kill Citrus trees, the root stock helps them be stronger and more resistant and vigorous.   Life of a citrus is 20-30 years here in general, and with heen naran maintains good growth. 

Sekiya as Chef, says he just put some finger limes on fish the other night, ‘on salmon and saba, and says that it tastes really good and adds some crunch!’.

Some people put it in beer, and it doesn’t dissolve like limes so at end you have these fish egg like things to chew on’.

Leafy Compost

By Heidi Bornhorst

Leaves are valuable for our gardens and for living soil.  Akamai farmers of old used and valued leaves to create and maintain good soil.  Good soil is “alive” with beneficial microorganisms.

Some people rake up and throw away their leaves.   To me, leaves are way better for our gardens than chemical fertilizers.

I consider them to be GOLD for the garden.  Do you need some exercise at a safe social distance?  GO out and rake up some leaves! Raking is good for your arm muscles.

Its fun for keiki and ohana too, just keep your distance from each other, if anyone has been traveling or exposed at work or school.

What is the best kind of leaves?

  1. Monkeypod
  2. Koa
  3. Fine leaved legumes like Kiawe
  4. `Ulu
  5. Whatever you have!

Nitrogen fixers like monkeypod, koa and kiawe are great.  The smaller the leaves, the more surface area, and the more rapidly they decompose, releasing nutrients that are available for plants to uptake and use.

`Ulu or breadfruit leaves make excellent soil building compost and they are so petty too!

Any leaves will work.  Bigger leaves like those from Mango, Lychee, mountain apple and Avocado can be cut up or shredded to make them decompose more quickly.

 If you grow Anthuriums, these big leaves that don’t break down quickly are useful intact.  We grew up using hapu’u, Hawaiian tree fern trunks for Anthuriums and orchid potting medium.  But its not sustainable to use hapu`u, it better to let them grow in our gardens and rainforests.  SO, a trick I learned from my old Foster Botanical Garden Boss and sensei, Masa Yamauchi: use lychee or mango leaves for potting medium in your anthurium pots.

Cut them up with clippers and soak them in a bucket for a while.  If you have a chipper or shredder those make nice fine leaf cuts.  You can also run the leaves over with a lawn mower to get them into smaller pieces.

If you trim get your trees trimmed professionally, have them chip the leaves and branches too.  This makes excellent mulch and compost.  Make sure the chipper has sharp clean blades. 

Or mix fine textured and large leaves

I went up to my neighbor Cindy’s and harvested leaves out of her green bin.

She likes a neat yard and does daily raking. And even though she’s my good friend, and a very good tidy gardener, she THROWS THEM AWAY!

Her gardeners (grass cutters) had been there and they dumped a bunch of grass in the bin too.  I DON’T want the grass!  It might have weedy seeds and has too much nitrogen.  So, I had to separate it all and lean down into the bin to get the good leaves. And then the rain and wild winds came too!

All in all, it was quite a workout !  I loaded up the bags, buckets and boxes of leaves and brought them home to my garden.

I had priority plants that I want to give extra nurturing to:

  1. Food plants
  2. Rare Hawaiian banana variety that is struggling
  3. Rare gingers
  4. `Ohi`a lehua
  5. Palapalai ferns
  6. Rare native Hawaiian Hibiscus, koki`o ke`o ke`o, H punaluensis.

I distribute the leaves, and watered them in.  

Adding water helps “stick” the leaves in place and starts the decomposition process. With this wild wind I don’t want them blowing all around.

Fruit + Nut Trees | Hawaii Gardens

By Heidi Bornhorst

  One of our goals for simple sustainability, is a Fruit tree in every yard, even on your apartment lanai.  For years Mark and Candy Suiso and their extensive extended ohana, participated in the epic Fruit sharing event known as Mangoes at the Moana.

This was Mark’s simple message for all the ten years we staged this educational and fun, Ono for Mango fruit, local fun foodie event.  Remember when every yard had at least one fruit tree, lots of vegetables, all kinds of things for the family to eat and to share?

Share with ohana, gifts for the neighbors, take a generous bag to work, etc.

Kupuna Pua Mendonca of Hawaii island shared some simple wisdom with me at an Aquaponics training conference in Hilo: survival trees to grow are avocado, niu or coconut, and `ulu or breadfruit.  Those healthy fats and oils will get you through times of hardship and scarcity.

You’ve heard the scary news that we have one week of food on grocery shelves in Hawaii.  Should we get cut off from imports, its handy to have some degree of self-sufficiency.

So, lets grow some survivor supplies in our gardens.  I was visiting my great gardener neighbor Joan Takamori and admiring her plush and fruitful garden.  She always has something to share and we learn from each other as we talk garden story.

Takamori asked me about a macadamia nut cracker.  She had an abundance of macadamias from her mother’s garden.

I laughed, recounting our nutcracker as kids.  It was a big pohaku in the dry stack rock wall, that was flat on top and had an almost perfectly sized mac nut puka.  We would set in a nut, and hit it “just right” with a small sledge hammer.   Sometimes it cracked open perfect, sometimes we smashed too hard and sometime the nut went flying!

This is how I learned (without knowing it) about scarification, a technique to help tough thick shelled seed to germinate and grow.  The nuts we nicked that flew down the side sloping yard, were able to grow into seedlings.

Once when we had a cousin swap, I took a big paper bag of macadamia nuts to my Aunty Ruth in California (what a hostess gift, such an elegant bountiful paper bag!)

I told them how we cracked mac nuts at home.  But no!  Californians have a better plan!  And my Uncle Merle was an Engineer.  He had a vise in the garage.  It was a big thrill for my cousins’ many friends in their neighborhood, to come over and everyone got a turn cracking a nut. (Sort of like Tom Sawyer getting all his pals to paint the fence, I later thought, with a laugh!)  Akamai uncle Merle!

My Aunty then roasted the nuts in the oven and covered them with chocolate.  Back home we generally just ate them raw.

I told Joan all of this and how my friend Nyna Weisser had researched nut crackers online and found a great one.  Not cheap but perfect cracking.  Nyna would hand us nuts and the cracker at a party.  Fun for all the friends!

Joan Takamori and I also spoke about how macadamia nuts are another tree that more of us should propagate and grow.

They are a pretty tree with deep green ruffly leaves and very pretty and fragrant flower stalks.  If you look closely at the flowers you will see that they look like miniatures of one of our favorite modern-day Florist ornamentals: Proteas.

Mac nuts are in the Proteaceae plant family and they are native to Australia.

 I asked Joan about where her folks got their macadamia tree.  She didn’t remember it being in the yard forever, and She has a theory. 

‘My dad did bonsai  my mom didn’t drive; she knew how to catch bus everywhere. I think she stole that tree from him and set it free in the yard’ says Takamori.

We never had it growing up.   I think mom planted it, maybe about 10-15 years ago.  She wanted to see it flower and fruit, although it would’ve made a kewl bonsai. Its now a very fruitful tree. I want to grow more of them, so I’ve been collecting seedlings, from under her tree to grow and share and plant in my current garden.

Mac nuts need to be scarified to germinate.  The thick hard shell is nicked or filed down a bit so water can penetrate and activate the embryo of the seed to grow.  Plant them in pots with quality potting mix, and water daily, until they get big enough to go into the ground.

You can also buy them already growing.  Ask for them at your favorite garden shop.  Or for even more fun, call ahead and visit a fruit tree specialty nursery.  Buy some mac nut trees to grow  and maybe another fruit tree for a friend or neighbor to grow.

Deadheading Benefits for Hawaii Plants

Tiare benefit greatly from deadheading

By Heidi Bornhorst

Q: What is deadheading and which Hawaii plants would benefit?

A: Deadheading is where you remove spent flowers to increase blooming and benefit the health of the plant.

Pua Keni Keni comes to mind, as cutting or snapping off the green and orange “balls”, AKA the developing fruit, will increase blooming.

Fruit formation and seed development take a lot of time and energy for the plant, just like a woman being pregnant.

So, if we want more flowers, don’t let the fruit form.  In the case of Pua Keni Keni, the fruit on the stems makes for great décor in a flower arrangement.  You can even string the “balls” into lei, as my akamai lei making buddy Dede Replinger Sutherland does.

Tiare or Tahitian gardenia nowadays needs deadheading.  We didn’t use to have a pollinator for Tiare but now it seems we do, as the old flower calyces (the bottom green part of the flower) don’t fall off after blooming. They now form fruit and it takes about a year to fully develop and form mature seeds inside.

We need to snap off that part on a daily or weekly basis or Tiare plants will have fruit developing and fewer blooms.

Tiare buds make an epic lei, that can last for several days or nights with a most heavenly perfume.  When you pick the buds, pick the calyx too and save yourself some time and energy.

My friend Donna Chuck has a prolific and sunny garden with many flowers for lei. She collects the Tiare buds and stores them carefully in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel in the fridge until she has enough for a special lei for a special someone.

We spent some time cleaning up and deadheading her plants and now she gets way more Tiare flowers for her lei creations.

I first learned the word and horticultural practice known as deadheading when I was an apprentice Gardener at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, in my junior year of college.

‘Go deadhead the Rhodies’, I was instructed by the Horticulturist at Longwood.

I wondered if it was something about the Grateful Dead; and had to ask what was deadheading and what are Rhodies?

Rhodies are Rhododendrons, related to the Azaleas that we grow here. They bloomed massively in spring there and general good garden practice was to deadhead them in early summer, to promote lots of blossoms for the following Spring show.

Some use sharp needle-nose clippers for this and some use sharp well-placed fingers and thumbnails to snap off the spent blooms.

Roses are another plant that will bloom better if you deadhead, or you can just harvest and use every flower.  Or you can let the fruit develop and you get rose hips which can be made into jam or tea.

Some kinds of Hibiscus, especially our fragrant native white Koki`o ke`o ke`o will form seed pods if you let them.  This is how early gardeners made new hybrids as they found the native Hawaiian whites were excellent “mother” plants.

Again, if you want blossoms, pluck off and clean up the old flowers.  Another benefit to this is we have lots of recent alien insect pests like scale and mealybugs that love to hide in the developing seed pods and suck sap and juices from the plants.

Deadheading helps you groom your plants, so you can rub off or cut off the pest-infested parts. Get rid of insect eggs and small sap suckers before they form a full-on infestation.

Lei rainbow pua melia tiare buds
Lei rainbow pua melia tiare buds