Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tropical Paradise of Oahu

Honolulu International Airport gardens
A glimpse of paradise in one of Honolulu International Airport's gardens
As I write this, exactly one week ago I was strolling through the gardens at Hawaii's Honolulu International Airport. 

I first discovered the airport's Hawaiian, Japanese, and Chinese gardens two and a half years ago during a long layover while awaiting a connecting flight. The gardens are located in an easy-to-overlook courtyard, a tranquil oasis hidden in plain sight. 

Spider lilies (Crinium)
Spider lilies (Crinium) in the foreground
with reflections of tall palm trees in the pond

Earlier in the week my family and I had visited Ho'omaluhia, one of five botanical gardens belonging to the Department of Parks and Recreation of Honolulu.  Ho'omaluhia is located up near the clouds in Kane'ohe. We saw tropical trees - some native species, some introduced. The hala tree is indigenous to Hawaii. Its fruit looks much like that of the pineapple plant, which, although grown commercially on Oahu, is not a native.

Hala tree at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
Hala tree at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

Earpod Tree
The Earpod Tree, a member of the pea family, shown here
 at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden, is native to Central and South America
Just driving or walking down the street in Kailua, where we stayed, I saw both familiar and unfamiliar plants, as well as unfamiliar varieties of familiar plants. Who knew that bougainvillea comes in such a variety of colors? When I see them in South Carolina, I only ever see the solid pink ones. 

Bougainvillea, native to South America, thrive on Oahu
You might recall that several weeks ago I bought two jungle geraniums (Ixora coccinea) after Abide-A-While moved some of their tropicals to the clearance shelves. This plant was new to me at the time. Not any more. On Oahu I often saw it growing in shrub form.

Plumeria flowers are used in the making of leis. After bands of wind and rain pushed through, I observed plumeria blossoms more frequently on the ground than in trees. 

Plumeria growing alongside a busy road in Kailua
Near the end of our stay, my daughter introduced me to the North Shore of Oahu where we visited the amazing botanical garden of Waimea Valley. This garden is the sort of place that makes you wish you lived next door and had an annual pass so that you could wander the grounds daily. I can visualize myself strolling with notebook and pen in hand, taking notes, yes, but pausing to compose lines of poetry, too. 

While at Waimea Valley I made photograph after photograph until my camera's battery exhausted. Unfortunately I cannot post any of those photos until I receive permission from the owners and thus far, perhaps due to the holidays, they have not responded to my request. 

Of the garden's numerous collections of tropical plants, the extensive hibiscus collections were among my favorites. I would have loved to see the cannas in bloom, but none were flowering during my visit.

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
At Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden 
Back at home now, I'm trying to harvest all the Meyer lemons before they freeze outside. With a tiny portion of my harvest, I'm attempting to make marmalade for the first time. Before my trip I froze enough juice to make lemonade every day next summer. Based on the number of lemons I have left, it appears I will be freezing more juice - much more.

Blooming at my place in the South Carolina Lowcountry on Christmas day: camellia Japonica (several varieties), narcissus, begonia, gaillardia, hellebore (budding),  jungle geraniums (one plant sheltered under the carport and the other on the unheated sunporch), geraniums (both on the sunporch and outside), the lavender-colored lantana, alyssum (both the white and the purple ones), marigolds, a descendent of my grandmother's red antique rose, quince...what else? That's all I can think of now.

Wishing each of my readers a wonderful 2013! Thank you for taking the time to visit with me.

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
My family strolls ahead of me as we return to the car
Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

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