Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hi there, plant geeks.

I've decided to join the blogosphere. (Yes, I'm in the throes of the dreaded book promotion period.)

After a year of intense craziness, Container Gardening in Hawai'i: How to Grow Paradise in a Pot is now finally published by Mutual Publishing and available from local booksellers and online retailers. And it seems to be getting off to a good start, thanks to everyone's support.

I've just returned from a book signing tour of Oahu, during which I was able to do some fun plant activities.

Heidi Bornhorst, author of "Growing Native Hawaiian Plants" and writer for the Honolulu Advertiser, showed me around the gorgeous landscaping at the Hale Koa Hotel, where she is the landscape director. We stopped by an auspicious tree, a symbol of peace grown from a cutting from the giant Bodhi tree in Foster Botanical Garden. This Bodhi tree was planted in memorium of Christine Snyder, who was lost on 9/11/01. Christine was an arborist who also worked for the Outdoor Circle and was Heidi's dear friend.

The next day we went to Foster Botanical Garden, where Heidi had been the director for many years. There was a special event to celebrate the birthday of Mary Foster who bequeathed the garden to the city in 1930. We paused to honor the enormous Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) at the entrance, which Mary Foster had brought back from India as a piece of the original Bodhi tree the Buddha sat under when he attained enlightenment.

There was a plant sale with native Hawaiian plants, unusual ti plants, and new variety of plumeria called, what else, "Mary Foster" -- with stunning bright pink blossoms.

(Heidi told me that Foster Botanical Garden holds a big plant sale in December each year, in case you happen to be there then.)

Remember, if you bring plants from Oahu to the Big Island you must have them inspected by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture. Inspectors aren't always at the gates, only if there are incoming mainland flights, so in case you're flying when they aren't there you must go to their office on the Ewa service road between the interisland arrivals on the first floor. If your plant passes inspection, it is given an official sticker which allows you to bring it on the plane.

And of course, DO NOT bring home anything that shows the slightest bit potential for being invasive. This past weekend I brought home a native Hawaiian 'I'i fern that Kay Lynch of La'au Hawai'i, a grower specializing in native ferns, was presenting at the Foster Botanical Garden.

It's good to be back on the Big Island!