Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sustainability at 3500 Feet

When it comes to experimentation with native plants in gardening, Bonnie Goddell, proprietor of Volcano Guest House, is enthusiastic and fearless. Around the perimeter of her huge duck pond in Volcano at 3500 feet she has planted native Hawaiian plants normally seen only at sea level wetlands, and they’re thriving suprisingly well.

'Ae 'ae, (Bacopa monnieri) or water hyssop, an indigenous Hawaiian plant also used in Ayurvedic medicine, is spreading along the edges of the pond, as is makaloa, 'uki'uki and other native sedges.

The pond and landscaping around it are only about a year old, but it looks like it’s off to a great start. Bonnie’s goal is to create an eco-friendly, agriculturally productive aqua-farm – it’s stocked with tilapia and koi, and yes, the ducks are for consumption.

The biggest surprise was a native sedge I'd never seen before. It looks like a giant green onion, and Bonnie says it's quite aggressive around her pond, so much so she’s had to cut it back several times. It's a very handsome specimen indeed, and I'm wondering how it would do in other island water gardens.

I could be wrong, but I don't think these lowland wetland natives naturally occur at this elevation. It will be interesting to see how they perform in a manmade system within the surrounding mauka native rainforest ecosystems. So far it's quite impressive.

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