microb's blog

Back to business
Posted on Jul 23, 2022 12:16 AM

Took a walk around the garden and forest trails and here is some of what I found. In the Wood Pile Garden I have been working on a new pathway. Gravel paths are a must to overcome mud. Here is the first section which is already looking mature with plantings
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As we move along the path makers are in place and waiting for gravel. Cannot move gravel for now due to continuous light rain. The wheelbarrow digs in and creates mud on already finished paths


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So thats all the hardscape happening.
There is a new garden room being created in the Woodpile garden just off to the left of the pathway. Looks a bit rough right now but most small trees have been removed and some final raking to be completed. Main thing is can already start planting


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Quite a few Heliconia blooming at the moment. July is probably the best month for flowering tropicals


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Lots of bromeliads looking their best
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About a year ago I was creating the orchid garden. Its now complete with many orchids on trees. They are all new additions so will take 12 months to get established by one or two are blooming


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Problem with the orchid garden is that all the plants that were added a year or more ago are now getting so big the narrow paths are getting difficult to negotiate, but lots of interesting plants to enjoy. Here are some Beehive gingers.


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the next is a varigated monstera. You should see the price of these on Etsy


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This next one is Shogun Heliconia. Years ago florists were paying $35 for the bloom. I can sell pieces of the plant for $60 to finance my plant obsession


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Nearly forgot the local Kahili Ginger


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So for the next few days I will be picking up trimmings from around the garden, skimming the ponds and kicking down running bamboo. The rain is the main obstacle at the moment. No really dry sunny spells forecast for the next week
Finished potting up 54 ginger seedlings today from seed tray to 2 inch pots. Made room in the seed tray for a different variety of ginger seeds that are just now germinating and should be ready to "prick out" in a week or so. The the cycle starts again.
Still have 5 plants parcels somewhere between here and Florida with starter plants of philodendron and peperomia I think. About 14 new plants in total. To make room I'm taking the Tradescancias that arrived a couple of weeks ago and moving them up to "two to the 6 inch pot". The starts are doing well and making a lot of new growth. Never thought I would collect 10 different types of 'wandering jew' as we called it in England.
Enough for now.

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Waving the white flag!
Posted on Jul 19, 2022 12:22 AM

We have been here 30 years. During the first 23 I was working full time and put in my strength of younger years to add plants, landscape the area the bulldozer cleared and hand cleared limited forest area. I created a network of forest trails and established a bridge over the stream.

Problems started when I retired 7 years ago. Suddenly I had lots more time, but not a lot of cash, to add more plants, landscape alongside the forest trails and hand clear areas of forest for more plants.

Collecting plants became an obsession, got to have one of everything. Got to know local nurserymen and people with beautiful gardens and a similar obsession so I traded and purchased plants. Plants grew larger, were trimmed to make cuttings, clumps of heliconias and ginger got bigger so they were split up and distributed to other areas. All this time I was weeding and trimming and keeping things under control (while still adding more plants). Volunteering at the local botanical gardens
for a year did not help, here I was wading through tropical plant collections and being given a piece of this and that.

My circle of friends are plant fanatics, collectors, specialists, international orchid judges, nurserymen etc. Slowly the garden became crammed with plants, all growing at tropical speeds. Slowly the growth took over, not just weeds but a great collection of plants.

And a few months ago I discovered Etsy. What a place to buy plants. I went onto craigslist and sold plants ($600 in May and June) and then rolled that money over into potting mixes, orchid bark, perlite and soil. But most of the money went to buy 28 different varieties of Philodendrons. They have become very popular as people were stuck in doors during COVID and got hooked on house plants. I watched tracking on the computer as boxes bounced thier way from Florida to Hawaii (one is on its way now with 12 new plants) and then I had the fun of "unboxing" plants. How many youtube videos can you find today of people sharing their unboxing of plants ordered by mail.

These small starter plants from Florida survive quite well, they start in three inch pots and some have already moved to 8 inch pots. I constructed a new covered nursery area along the front of the house to watch the new babies grow and then they move out to the renovated shade cloth house to join the grown ups.

I couple of months ago I visited a fellow plant enthusiast with some friends and out came the wallet again. 10 more plants. One was a miniature hedychium, or butterfly ginger. It was an epiphytic plant growing on the trunk of a palm tree. Must have one, yes, $10, and by the way can I take that one that has gone to seed, sure. So now I have a tray of 80 seedling about 1 inch tall, just about ready to move to pots. Next to that is a clam shell (we love muffins from Costco) and in the clam shell are seeds from another butterfly ginger I traded from Florida. I have 15 young plants from the first bloom head of that one about 6 months ago. This next round of blooming gave me 11 blooms heads so I should get dozens of seedlings. And on it goes. The giant white butterfly ginger that I grew from seed 4 years ago bloomed prolificly last September and now there are carpets of seedling under the parent plants.

So where does the White Flag come in. This evening went for a walk-about and waved the white flag and said " OK plants you win. I can no longer keep up" The path ways are closing in, the plants are growing uncontrollably, they are amazing to look at, Mendinilla blooms, beehive gingers, orchids, Heliconias, Anthuriums and more. So I really felt overwhelmed.

But tomorrow is another day. I will regroup mentally and go fight another day. I am blessed with my own botanical garden, an understanding wife, great plant friends and an uncontrolled desire to buy more plants, trade more plants, rescue more plants and propagate more plants. 74th birthday coming up but what are numbers, don't anticipate slowing up anytime soon. Another three tons of gravel was delivered a couple of weeks ago so the wheelbarrow is getting a workout as more paths get gravelled to solve the mud problem and give better access to more cleared forest.

Running bamboo season is going strong. Kicked over more that 500 shoots so far this year. Ponds that were clogged with weed have been cleared and rescued. Will get some more fish this coming Wednesday if Petco has them. Waterlilies are blooming.

Currently getting to organize my third plant sale to support or local zoo. The last one in April was a big success. More vendors are signing up for the one in October so I have more access to more plants. (See how that statement morphed in more plants)

Otherwise you can read earlier blogs and the day to day work is the same, just more of it.



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What to do when its raining
Posted on Apr 8, 2022 6:03 PM

Well a blog, of course.

Its been a while since January. Lots of things happening.

Biggest event was organising and enjoying the annual Zoo Plant Sale. Took a lot of time coordinating 12 vendors, going begging the local nurseries and garden shops for donations and working with the volunteers to do set up the evening before and take down the following Saturday afternoon. A cold and very wet Friday evening made set up a misery. Some vendors were there putting up 10 x 10 pop up tents and making multiple runs with plants. Saturday morning at 6am we were at the zoo gate waiting for security to open up and watching the wild pigs roam around. But the sun came out, vendors arrived and by 7.30 buyers were arriving for the 8am opening. By 9.00am most good items were sold. Beautiful sunny day, hundreds, maybe thousands of happy plant buying folks. Being the lead organizer I get to meet all the nursery vendors and get the inside scoup of plants.

Back at home:

The Sunken Garden - This is now the orchid garden. All the hard work is finished, just planting and weeding remains as a continuous activity. Lots of orchids have been added but few are blooming yet. Beehive gingers that went in last year are now blooming, lots of new Calatheas have been added following multiple trips to Walmart. Lots of new bromeliads are located in various locations and my latest obsession, collectible philodendrons and rare anthuriums have added to the landscape.

The Woodpile garden has not seen much work.

An area of neglected garden between First Loop and Near Gate is getting a facelift but I have yet to name it. Last week I took down a bunch of overhanging trees and then the rain started so the debris still needs to be removed. lots of new planting area will be available once the clearing project is finished.

Got my weedwacker into the Lost Garden a couple of weeks ago. Looks of great plants put in the ground years ago are still there thriving but need to be freed of the overgrown weeds. But then that why its the lost Garden. Giant white shell gingers, camelias, bamboos Mendinillas and heliconias all there waiting to be revealed.

Other areas of the garden need and receive raking and clearing as time is available. Running bamboo season is just getting started so over the next 5 months I will be focused on kicking over the new canes. The regular clumping bamboos are just starting to show new growth here and there.

That huge stand of giant bamboo that got broken in the storm, well my friend and I name it "The Dragon" and I was Saint George. Over the course of some weeks we slowing cut away at the base of the damaged canes and pulled the canes to the ground. We finally finished the job the day before he returned to Seattle. What a beast to clean up. Some canes were 80 ft high and 8 inches across.

The Orchid Cactus have started blooming again. I worked hard to clear up overgrown and neglected pots and will have a good show this year. Fewer numbers of pots to maintain makes all the difference.

Last week I got to join a group of friends and visited a local private garden. The owner collects rare palms, Philodendrons and Anthuriums bromeliads, bamboos, cycads etc etc Its an amazing 6 acre garden but the problem is he propagates the plants and sells them at really cheap prices. You can imagine the rest of the story. Went back for another visit yesterday cause I forgot to get a root of the giant red hairy hanging Heliconia plant. Added four more plants to that shopping list. All you have to do is point out a plant and say how much do you want for a piece of that, and he says what do you think and then he rips it out the ground or off the tree or says he has it in a pot down in the nursery. One of my best buys was a cluster of anthurium seedlings. They were self sets under the mother plant and the owner just grabbed a handful and said $10. I now have 38 struggling babies to nurture to maturity.

Propagation is my biggest problem. I'm finding self set gingers and anthuriums and feel so tempted to go harvest them into pots. The blue tree hydranger is just screaming "come get cuttings" how can I refuse, large clumps of heliconia need to be divided and spread around, yellow jade vine seeds are coming up in the driveway for me to rescue and put in pots. Say no more.

For the future, the plant sale vendors and customers are all sending the message on facebook that they want another sale in October so I think that will be confirmed at the Friends of the Zoo board meeting next Wednesday. I wonder who will organize that one.

Check out facebook for the Hawaii Tropical Gardening and Landscaping group. Lots of good stuff there.




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Where have I been?
Posted on Jan 8, 2022 12:35 AM

I don't know. Really no blog since end of November. How time flies.

As I review what have been achieved I have to weave in the results of a strong wind storm that went though our area about 10 days ago. Scary stuff.

The Sunken Garden - This garden was created by thinning out small trees and leaving the "mother" trees to provide some partial shade. During the past few months I have been in the process of adding plants and gravelling paths to overcome mud that is unavoidable in this lowest part of our total garden area
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The pathing project is almost complete. One section is a loop trail and I can see both ends getting closer and closer. New plantings include Calatheas, pothos, heliconias, etc.

Then along came the windstorm. 50% of the mother trees ended up horizontal with roots torn from the ground. Luckily the leafy tops of the trees fell into the forest on the outside of the fence so I just had to cut the tops off just clear of the fence and let them stay where they fell. Then I just had to trim up the trunks ( seen along side the path) Very little plant damage but now a lot more light



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Forest pathways - The windstorm left a lot of twigs, small branches and other debris in the way of an easy walk. It took a couple of days to rake the entire system and set it back to near normal.

Woodpile Garden - I had just started laying bamboo poles along the edges of planned pathways. Could not believe my eyes after the storm to see one large bamboo pole, that had been on the ground, pointing up at a 45 degree angle. A large clump of trees had been blown down causing the root ball to be forced up under the path and that's where it will stay for a while. I will leave the trees laying where they are and cut away the roots to clear the original pathway. The trees fell to the right, another clump of trees on the right fell parallel to the path and landed on top of the original clump so its like a huge pile of "pick-up-sticks"

Back 50 garden - after the storm where the 100ft bamboos reside. Tips of 60ft high new bamboo shoots were on the ground. 40 ft up at least a dozen bamboo canes were broken off at right angles and hanging their leafy tops down to the ground in an arch. Further up in the garden area a large trunk of a pine tree had snapped off bringing with it a branch of an
African Tulip tree.
A week after the windstorm a large branch of an ironwood tree surcumbed and fell to the ground missing our water tank by 4 ft. This one has been cleaned up as it was so close to the back of the house


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Too much drama in my life this past few weeks. Stormy wet weather throughout December has finally past and this last week has been clear blue skies and sunshine. Here is the top of a 20ft Australian tree fern against the blue sky.


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Water lilies are still blooming


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So on we go to orchids. The guy that takes care of the orchids at the zoo got a heads up that an orchid nursery in Hilo was out of business and the new owner was levelling the nursery. I was told the greenhouses were the size of a tennis court and the orchids were being given away. There were truck loads coming off the benches. I can handle only so much so I took three large garbage bags full. I now have orchids tied to ferns and trees and in pots. you can spot the orchids on the ferns and trees in the above photos. Here are the pots. Most are cattleya orchids and show no sign of blooms at this point. They will take a year to get established but I have promised not to ignore them and went out with fertilizer in a spray bottle today to give them a good start. So on the first of each month I will test run the generator and fertilize the orchids.


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Rain and wind caused a troublesome roof leak into our hobby room. Had to climb out one window and then reach out with a pole tipped with Henry's roof patch to seal the screw head. I'm not happy walking on sloping metal roof. Next rain shower leak was still there. Guessed the wrong screw took a second try. You know how it goes - third times a charm. Well I'm still waiting to prove that, as it has not rained since the third attempt.

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And for those readers who like to see where we live here pics down the street, up the street and our gateway from the street


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How did this pic get here. Should be up top with the other pathway pic


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Garden Update
Posted on Nov 23, 2021 12:12 AM

What's new? Must be something considering all the hard work that seems to need doing.

The End Garden - No work done in this area but did notice, today, a few small bamboo seedlings growing under the large clump that went to seed.,, The bees are buzzing around the grass seed sprays way at the top of the clump. I think I will journey out there with a pot of soil and collect some seedlings. Most of the Giant White butterfly gingers are in The End Garden and what were bloom heads are now swelling seed pods. I have a feeling they will burst open with bright orange seeds and be spread by the birds. In a couple of years we will know if that is good or bad.

The Wood Pile Garden - Now that I have a gravel path to the lower end of the garden I have been clearing paths that were previously "roughed in" for access. One sloping path is getting the stepping stone (slices of tree trunks with roofing shingles attached to stop slipping) that were previously used for paths now gravelled. The level paths are getting the forest foliage cut back on either side and new plantings of Coleus, Heliconias and Costus etc have been added. A stand of Waiwi trees with 5 inch trunks fell down many years ago but are still green and growing as the root ball is still active. Those long trunks have just been waiting for me to discover them. They will be cut into lengths and used as path edging.

Q Gardens - This is the area between the bridge and Near Gate, which goes into the Wood Pile Garden. Now the gravel path has been installed I have easy access and clearing and planting is taking place. Lots of trimming to be done. Large clumps of red torch ginger with leaves towering 15 ft have to be thinned. Some small sapling waiwi trees have to be removed. We have an invasive weed called Kostners Curse (Spelling?) Grows from runners and from seed. Everyone has it. If there was a local award for best plant I would win hands down.

The Sunken Garden - Almost finished here. All targeted trees have been removed and stacked in a large wood pile. Planting areas have been mostly raked clear of debris. Path ways have been marked and the first loads of gravel were applied this week. Final 3 ton load of gravel was delivered last Thursday. Hernia problem has eased off so wheelbarrow is being pushed again. (Had ultrasound today so should know Hernia status tomorrow) Certainly not a health problem in my mind. More plants are being added to The Sunken Garden almost daily, either from other areas of the garden or from local nurseries. Plants that were added a couple of months ago are showing signs of getting established. New bamboos are shooting up new canes.

Back yard Ponds - There a six ponds at the back of the house numbers 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 - then lap pool and Violets pond. Number 3 is in good shape and just needs excess weed skimmed off the surface from time to time. It contains about 20 gold fish and maybe a dozen black and gold koi. Number 2 is also in good condition but was severely overshadowed by a huge clump of bamboo. This past week I have been removing the overhanging bamboo. The pond is now much brighter, needs the same weed skimming from the surface. Just 5 gold fish in this pond along with 2 grey talapia. Each pond measures about 18 feet long and 8 feet wide and 18 inches deep. Pond 1B had been neglected and was choked with hyacinth and pickeral weed. This past Saturday I dredged just about everything out and found that there was still a good amount of water remaining So 1B is now officially viable with a couple of small swordtail fish. I need to keep skimming and cleaning and add a few more fish. Pond 1A needs major work. Abount 1/3 is filled with sludge, mainly decaying bamboo leaves. Water level is low and and some baby water lily plants are visible. I will have to shovel out the sludge, rake out bottom debris and check to see if it still holds water. Both 1A and 1B are about 8 feet square and 1 foot deep. It used to be one pond but I split it in two when the original liner failed years ago. The Lap pool is a pond about 18 feet long and 5 feet wide. It's in good shape but overshadowed by that same clump of bamboo. Needs work to dredge out debris and bamboo needs to be trimmed to let in light. When I say bamboo to trim, these are leaning poles about 50 feet long from the clump that is 20 ft from the pond. Violets pond is so named as it was created in memory of one of my wifes friends who passed away many years ago. Its kind of heart shaped, about 5 ft by 8ft. Should just need plants trimmed around the edge and weed skimmed from the top. I see that being scheduled about 2 weeks from now.

The derelict green houses have had the torn plastic sheeting removed and the wood frame has been taken down. So I'm left with plant benches contain grass fill pots of Amaryllis and Amorphophallus bulbs. Two of the four benches have been cleared of old Orchid cactus pots so the Amaryllis and Amorph. will be moved to those empty benches.

Bottom Berm Trail. - This pathway runs from the Sunken Garden along a fence line though the forest past the Secret Garden to the bridge. Pigs have been very active along this fence line, even pushing wet mud through the hog wire. I will be using old rusty fence wire, old lattice gates or anything else I can find to strengthen the fence and stop access.

Max's dog yard. - The giant yellow daisy shown in my last blog finally stopped blooming and looked really ugly so yesterday I cut it back to about 3 feet from the ground. It will bounce back for next year. Trick is to pile the branches on the green waste heap and cover them with more green waste as soon as possible to stop them growing. Any small piece left on the ground will grow.

Same applies to the Brazilian Cloak bush that grows just outside of Max's yard on the far side. It's in full red bloom at about 20 feet high right now but as soon as it has finished blooming down it must come. This is worse than the daisy. Just mention touching the ground and the trimmings will take rooting.

I finally had success rooting the Purple Butterfly vine. During a long wet spell the leaf nodes of the vine sprouted air roots so I bent a section down, buried it in a pot of soil while leaving it connected to the parent and placed a small stone on top to hold it in place. Now I have new growth and a pot full of roots. I will be doing more of that in the very near future.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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