Saturday, November 9, 2019


I recently spent a month in Nepal.  I was not there for the usual trekking in the mountains but just to hang out and look around.  Most of the time I was in Kathmandu city but I explored out into the surrounding valley as well.  I also took the eight hour bus trip over to Pokhara to stay there a few days so that I could see a bit more of the country side.  An absolutely fascinating country that was easily visited on a low budget.  As usual, here are a few photos pertaining to gardening to share with you.  Remember you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Typical Kathmandu house with city style gardening

Marigold flowers used for welcome leis or Hindu temple offerings.

Houses and rice terraces in Kathmandu Valley.

Corn drying in house windows, Kathmandu  Valley

Shankhadharpark, Kathmadu .   A central city park that you pay to go into.
 It seemed popular with teens taking photos of each other.

Garden of Dreams.  Surprise!   A neo classical historical garden in Kathmandu.
A tranquil spot from another world that you pay to visit.
Ladies selling their bananas and papayas on the street. Kathmandu

Man selling vegetable seeds and plants at street market, Kathmandu

A lady at Lakeside,  Pokhara  who had established this lush permaculture garden.
There was also a little cafe on the house veranda there.
A lady knocking down flowers to gather for use in
 giving blessings at the Hindu temples.  Pokhara 

Vegetables for sale at street market, Kathmandu

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Here are just a few photos of some Bougainvilleas in containers at a temple in Ayuthaya, Thailand.  I think they are multi color grafted but it could be that they have planted a few different color plants tightly together.  I just presumed that they were grafted that way when I took the photos, but now looking at them, I wonder.   Anyways...they were a fabulous show and getting lots of attention from the tourists.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019


For the last several weeks I have been off traveling again.  During quiet evenings at my guest house I started looking around on at gardening videos.  This is not something I have done much before but I have realized that I was missing out on some fabulous stuff.  Even more so, I have actually clicked on the subscribe button for the very first time because of the wonderful videos put on you tube by Self Sufficient Me.  These are by Aussie gardener Mark Valencia who could also be called the Russell Crowe of gardening.  His personality and enthusiasm is very engaging.  Mix that with pure practical gardening know how and he is a winner.

Mark Valencia lives near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in a semi tropical climate so he is growing similar foods to what we grow here in Hawaii.  His gardening videos have a huge following from around the tropical world and also he has a blog at that you can have a look at.  Obviously I am a bit behind on such things as his videos have been on you tube for a couple of years now but if you have not seem them please check them out as they are very helpful and I know you will become a fan too.  Here are a few links to start you off.


Sunday, September 15, 2019


There is a beach only a few minutes walk, through the back yard and an empty lot away, from my house.  The grand kids refer to it as Grandma's beach because it is near the house and also because I am one of many who watch over the beach.  We go swim there.  We walk there and observe nature and watch the changes on the beach with the tides and seasons.  Most importantly, we pick up the plastic flotsam that comes in from the ocean.  I throw it with the household garbage in the collection bin which goes to H Power to be burnt for electricity.   Much of this plastic comes from the other side of the Pacific Ocean or from the fishing industry.  Most of the plastic has been in the water for a long time and may have been part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.....a giant gyre of  marine debris that sits out in the north Pacific ocean.  Some days it is just small stuff coming in but after a big storm large objects can come in like fishing crates and racks which I put to good use in my plant nursery area.  (Frugal in the Garden,  April, 2016)

Another thing that comes in is fishing buoys.  In the 60's up to the 80's it was possible to find glass blue/green buoys which make a nice collection.  It is very rare to find one of these days....maybe one gets kicked off a distant island in a storm to still arrive here.  There are plenty of plastic and Styrofoam buoys that show up now.  If I find a interesting new one I bring it home and hang it around the garden for a free decoration and it is rather interesting to see the different types.   A few years ago I looked at a New Zealand gardening book that showed pictures of quirky gardens there and some people had totally gone over board on collecting fishing buoys in their gardens.  I decided I did not want to look too crazy so I limit it to one of each type of buoy and leave the others up on the sandbank for others to take home.  There are a few gardeners around in Hawaii that use the buoys to decorate their garden.  The most popular way is to hang them in trees like baubles on a Christmas tree.  They look really good on a wide stretching tree like the Beach Almond/Kamani  Others sell them on eBay or cut them in half to grow plants in.

I am putting up a few photos to show how I use them in my garden.

We call this big barrel size buoy The Hippo.  The kids like  to balance on it.
You can see mother of pearl growing on it and it probably came from a pearl
farm in Japan that got washed away in the tsunami  of 2011.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

VARIEGATED SOCIETY GARLIC (Tulbaghia violacea "variegata")

Society Garlic is a plant that has a lot going for it.  It is tough, pretty and you can even eat it.  A good plant to have in the garden!  This variegated form has white edged leaves so it also brings color contrast to the garden.  I have mine growing in a clay pot and it seems to do well there.

Society Garlic is native to South Africa where its leaves and flowers are used in Zulu cooking while they use the bulbs more for medicine. The flowers and leaves have a peppery taste and certainly the little purple flowers look very attractive in a salad along with giving it a garlic pepper taste.  This variegated Society Garlic is a cultivar that goes by the name Silver Lace.  I have only noticed this variegated type being used in gardens in Hawaii.The plant grows up to two feet tall with its thin upright leaves and a pretty group of small flowers on a slender stalk.  Here in Hawaii it is a perennial and flowers in the summer.  Each flower stalk lasts about two weeks with a new tiny flower opening every day on the stalk.  They do well as a cut flower indoors.  Sometimes you will get a slight whiff  of garlic smell as you walk past the plant.  This plant leaf does look rather similar to a variegated liriope (August,2017) but Society Garlic flowers are very distinctive as are its bulbous roots.  It is a hardy plant that likes light soil and can survive the hot dry days although water and a bit of shade in the hot summer afternoons will keep it happier.  A bit of trimming off of old leaves and flower stalks keeps it pretty looking.  Fertilizer will up flower production.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

VINCA (Catharanthus roseus)

For several years, the only Vinca flowers I knew were the common pink ones that grew year round in Samoa.  It is a tough plant that self seeds so I would find baby plants that could be transferred around the garden.  The plants would get a bit leggy but picking flowers for a posy indoors helped to keep the plant trimmed back.  When we first moved to Hawaii I noticed the same Vinca showing off its resilience in the unirrigated and sandy soil of the local graveyard.  I always like tough plants that will carry on without people constantly fussing over them.  The plants you see still growing in neglected gardens are the ones to choose for your home garden.

Vinca in a hotel garden, Nadi, Fiji

Today I have several Vinca in my garden to add some color.  It shows that I am going soft in my old age because for a long time I just wanted useful plants.  Now I am appreciating having a "prettier" garden with splashes of colorful flowers.  The older pink type has been replaced by modern Vinca varieties bought from Home Depot which come in a wide range of colors from white, pink, red to lavender.  I notice that Home Depot in Honolulu seems to be only selling potted flowers in 6" pots now and not in the 4" starter pots.  I'm sure the growers make more money this way, but it does make for a stronger plant with a bigger root system.  I expect it means less stressed plants at the store during hot summer months too when store attendants get behind on their watering schedule.  Just lately there is a new Vinca cousin that has been showing up at Home Depot.  It sells under the the name of Catharanthus but it is a Vinca with an extra ruffle of petals coming out of the center which looks promising.

Vinca is a tropical plant.  It needs temperatures above 70 degrees to keep on flowering.  On the mainland US it is referred to as an annual but here it grows for longer periods.  There is also a creeping Vinca grown on the mainland but I have not seen it here.  Vinca likes full sun to partial shade.  It prefers acid soils but it does fine in our sandy soils.  It does need good drainage.  It can get root rot and branch blight, especially in the rainy season so it should not be over watered and it is recommended to water the soil rather than the leaves to help prevent branch die back because of blight.  Vinca is actually a medical hero plant because the chemo drug Vincristine is extracted from the plant to treat leukemia in children.

Vinca flowers on older plants produce little slender pods of seed which I have grown a few plants from in the past but I have only had success with wilder pink variety.  It takes careful timing to get the seeds as you need to gather the pods when they are starting to turn yellow but before they burst open.  You can pick the pods and put them in a paper bag to finish drying off and collect the seeds from the opened pods.  The plants can get a little tall and leggy but a bit of trimming back makes for a more attractive plant.  A bit of fertilizer  a few times a year will give them a boost too.