Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Color In Our Jungle

We live in a world of green. Lots and lots of green in all shades and all textures. But there is also color in our jungle. Here are some pictures that I took this morning from the lanai.

Spring is a time on the mainland for Rhododendron's to bloom. So too is it in Hawaii. These are Vireya Rhododendrons and they have one very distinct advantage over the temperate varieties: They bloom off and on all year round, but many varieties are especially nice in spring.

This Vireya, which is also in the picture above, is an un-named variety that was hybridized very early in the horticultural history of the plants in Hawaii.

This lovely double red hibiscus came to us as a cutting many years ago.

The Vireya in this picture and the one below is Kamrau Bay which is a prolific bloomer and, as you can see, can become a very large plant.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Universe Makes a Promise

Have you ever thought about the fact that spring is very much a promise from the Universe that life continues. It is a time for us to celebrate new beginnings. It is a rainy Friday morning, but I took advantage of a small break in the rain to gather some pictures to share with you.

Notice the buds in the center of the older growth on this vireya rhododendron and all the new growth. The buds are a promise of blooms to come sometime this year. They can take a long time to mature, and the new growth is a promise that my plant wants to keep growing for me.

There were a few blossoms on this lovely lady, but the buds promise of many more to come. This was just one spray on the tree which has probably three additional sprays also ready to burst into bloom over the next week or so.

And this tiny little blossom is the promise of cardamom to come. This is the flower of the cardamom ginger. If we are very lucky, we will have seeds this fall. I say lucky because we have to rely on our friends the bees and humming bird moths to pollinate them and sometimes they don't visit as regularly as we would like. You can read more on cardamom ginger here.

The tree ferns are one of the plants that make our property feel like Hawai`i. Beautiful and graceful, they provide lovely dappled shade for other plants to grow beneath them. And these two promise that they will remain with their new fronds starting.

It will be late August or September before this white pineapple is ready for harvest, but they are worth the wait.

Palm trees are very much bent on continuing their place in our land. Look at the number of flowers on this plant. Because of its location and the rain, I doubt that very many of them will mature to seeds; but this is a young tree and I'm sure the opportunity for more will come again.

And a promise of bananas. Until you have eaten a banana ripe from the tree, you really haven't eaten a banana.

And sometimes spring is a time of harvest. These are mountain apples (syzygium malaccense) which were a canoe plant that came with the native Hawaiians when they landed in the islands. The fruit is pear shaped and bright red with a crisp texture and a slightly sweet flavor. Some people use them in baking just as you would regular apples.

So I say thank you to Universe for your spring time promise and for the beauty with which you bless this land.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

And Then There's Love

Love comes in all forms and types. This blog entry talks of the love of legends and the love one can have for a an area and a beautiful plant that graces it.

Of all the beautiful places on this island, my favorite is The Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. I walk into this land of Tutu Pele with a feeling of love, awe and thankfulness that I am able to be there. It is beautiful no matter what the weather or her moods.

Recently we were able to spend time in the park on two different occasions and it just underscored for me how much I love to be there.

Pele has been very active of late and I'm sure many of you have seen footage of the recent flows. This picture was taken in September of 2009 at an early stage in the recent activity in the Halema`uma`u crater. The day was rather dark and stormy and I was walking along the edge of the crater rim during a break at a retreat. There is no more spiritual place for me than this location.

There is a tree of legend that adds so much beauty to this island, to Pele's park, and to my life. The legend goes something like this:

There was a young Hawai`ian man, some say a chief, whose name was Ohia. This young man was very much in love with a beautiful girl named Lehua. But as happens in many legends, their love was not to be. The Goddess Pele found the young man Ohia to be very handsome and desired him for herself. But Ohia was true to his love for Lehua. In her anger, Pele, turned Ohia into a twisted tree with gray bark and gray green leaves. When Lehua discovered what had been done to her love, she begged the other gods to please change him back. But Pele's magic was powerful and they were unable to do so and it looked like Lehua was to be forever parted from her beloved. But the gods had a solution: They turned Lehua into a beautiful red flower and placed her among Ohia's leaves. And to this day the two lovers are together in the form of the beautiful Ohia Lehua tree.

I never get over my love and fascination with the beautiful Ohia Lehua tree. When we walk in the park, I will say to myself that this time I won't take pictures of it. After all, I have hundreds. But with every walk, I add to my collection because it is so lovely in all its forms. Here are few recent pictures from my collection:

This lovely specimen was growing out of a crack in the lava on the trail to the Petroglyphs. The Ohia is usually the second plant to grow in the lava fields after an eruption. The first is the fern.

This close up shows the blossom in all its stages: the bud, the bloom, a recent seed pod, and an older seed pod. And in the background you can see the edge of the crater of Kilauea with the Halema`uma`u crater just inside it.

The trees are even beautiful in death.

And the lava from which all this beauty grows.

And so we have love: love of place, love of tree and the love of legends. Each one special and perfect for it's time and season.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fiber People Are The Best

What is there about a passion be it gardens, or fiber, or wood, or whatever that brings out the most generous side of people. I'm not sure. But I know that fiber people are high on the list when it comes to generosity.

Sometime back, I decided that I wanted a floor loom. Now my space in the studio house is somewhat limited so I figured a loom that I could fold up when not in use would be best. But I still wanted a loom that would allow me to do a variety of weavings. After some research and bending the ear of everyone I knew that did any weaving at all, I decided that I wanted a Schacht Mighty Wolf loom. It could weave cloth up to 36 inches wide and could be equipped with up to eight harnesses and its size was reasonable for my purposes.

Imagine my surprise when a good friend on the mainland emailed me and said that she had one and I could have it if we could find a way to get it shipped from the midwest to me. It took awhile, but on March 26th this loom arrived on my doorstep.

Loom Back

Loom Front

Because I had never worked with a loom of this size, most of my weaving has been on a rigid heddle loom, I decided to work my way through Debra Chandler's "Learning To Weave". The piece on the loom right now is the first of the projects in her book. It is a simple striped cotton piece to get the feel of using the beater and weaving plain weave or tabby and twill patterns.

Then a few weeks ago, a computer student of Glenn's mentioned that she had a table loom that she needed to find a home for. It had been her mother-in-law's. I said I'd take it and either use it or find it a good home. So on Wednesday, I stopped by her house and picked up this loom.

Table Loom

It is hand made out of plywood and has a simple four harness configuration with the harnesses being made of dowels with string heddles and using rubber bands to provide some tension. When it arrived, it had a fairly complex warp on it of a fine linen and an obvious practice piece of weaving where the person using it was learning to do a double layer construction. I saved the about three yards of warp still on the loom. It will make excellent thread for kumihimo. And I will keep the weaving sample as well. It think the loom will be great for doing small things like the bookmarks that I love to make.

In addition to the loom, Glenn's student gave me a small warping board that will be great for kumihimo class in the fall, a bag full of stick shuttles, and the greatest prize of all: A notebook with many samples of weaving and patterns that was put together by a weaving instructor many years ago. Do any of you weavers have any knowledge of Karin Melander who, at least at the time the notebook was put together, lived in Santa Barbara, CA? This notebook is her work. I googled her but found only a couple of small mentions in the old Robin and Russ newsletter.

The patterns in the book are way beyond my current skill level. But a couple caught my eye and I will want to try them when I have more projects under my belt.

As I said, fiber people are way at the top of the generous list. Now I just need to pay it forward for that is how it all works out in the long run.

The Miracle Vireya

On June 15th 2003 a precious gift was given into my hands. On January 5, 2002, Ray Greuel took some seeds from Sherla ( www.PacificIslandNursery.com ) that had been sent to her by Chip Lima and placed them in a pot. They were from the hybridizing of two of Peter Sullivan's Vireya: V. Semper Fideles x V Paschal Witness. That's where the miracle begins. These seeds spouted in that first pot and on June 2, 2002, Ray moved the tiny seedlings to another pot. Here they grew for almost nine months. On February 20, 2003 they were moved to a four inch pot. And on June 15th, they were brought to the meeting at Sherla and Richard's.

I took one home. It had two branches and maybe four leaves on it. But it was a beginning. Now those of you who know me, know that I'm a very haphazard gardner and trusting any plants to me, let alone a seedling, is a great act of faith. The little plant lived in its pot in a garden outside my kitchen door and there it sat being watered mostly by the rain and fed by the sunshine. Nothing else.

Sometime, I would guess in late 2003 or early 2004, it was moved to a place beside the fence where it could be seen from the lanai of my studio house. It still was only about 8 inches high and had two branches and a few leaves. And there it stayed. I weeded around it when I thought about it. It was watered by the rain and lived in full hot sun with maybe a little fertilizer over the years when Glenn was generally fertilizing whatever was over there.

Then last year, it decided to grow and it began to put on height and more leaves. And imagine my surprise when this spring, I noticed two buds on the plant. About two weeks ago the first bud bloomed. And what a lovely bloom it was. It is large, white with just a bit of yellow in the center, and fragrant.

It is obviously a very hardy little plant. It is still living in less than optimum conditions, but it seems to be doing just fine thank you. Because I am not to be trusted with a lovely and rare plant, I took the first truss to Sherla so that she can grow it out. At some point, it will be available for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you Ray for your faith that something you started would continue long after you had passed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Garden Surprises

I looked to my right up a path as I walked to feed the chickens today 
and this is what I saw.

 I looked down at me feet on the path and saw this lovely stuff.

Then  I followed a path through the woods of the garden 
and I turned a corner to find this

Then I fought my way through some overgrown grass that had 
strangled the path and this came into view

On the last part of the path to the house I found this lovely sight 
in a spot where I didn't even know we had this variety planted.

I hope you'll walk with me in my garden on another day.  
You never know what surprises might be in store for you.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It's Raining

Well, maybe not as much as it did in February of last year, but enough that I feared I wouldn't be able to get out and back in if I did what I had planned today.  So instead, I'm here at home looking at a day of unplanned leisure.  Kind of nice.

This is what I was supposed to do today.  Hoku and I had an agility seminar scheduled.  They are still doing it; we just aren't joining.  At least not today.  We may still go tomorrow.  Good thing the teacher, Andrea Dexter, is from the Seattle area.  A little or a lot of rain isn't going to stop a good north-westerner.  Hoku really does enjoy the agility.  She'd be even better at it if her mom found more time to practice with her.  At least my teacher is there so hopefully she will be able to transfer any tricks that Andrea gives us today to me over the course of the next few weeks.

And in case some of the rest of you are also in the doldrums of rainy, snowy, or whatever winter, here is a bright spot to warm your day.  
I don't remember which vireya this is, but it is a sunny spot in the garden when it is in bloom.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Just One More Thing

As Rachel Maddow would say, "Just one more thing".....  I learned another lesson from this quilt.  Do not, I emphasize, do not use a deep blue color in a quilt unless you first wash it with Retayne or some other fixative and then probably wash it a couple more times.  

I should have known better.  I did know better; I just didn't pay attention.

Anyway, this blue bleeds.  It really bleeds.  I knew it would.  I tested it on scrapes and extra material.  I tested it with dye catchers and I still had bleed.  The dye catchers did their job valiantly, there was just too much color flowing plus where the blue was up against some other color in the washing process, it bled onto the other color.

So I had a choice.  I could send it unwashed and tell my nephew and his wife that they would have to dry clean it.  Or I could wash it and suffer the first consequences for them.  I debated.  But the main reason I made this quilt for them was to have them use it.  I visualized them all curled up under it on the couch.  They have one two year old child and another on the way.  They weren't going to use the quilt and dry clean it.  Wasn't going to happen.  It wouldn't have happened in my house when I was young and it still wouldn't.  A quilt that had to be dry cleaned would go into the cedar chest never to see the light of day again.

So I washed it.  And it bled.  It will probably still continue to bleed so I'm sending a box of dye catchers with the quilt.  But now they have no excuse not to use it. 

From a distance, the quilt doesn't look that much different.  At least not to the camera.  But when you do a close up of one of the stars, you can see the blue bleed.

One can always have would of's, should of's, and I obviously have one on this quilt.  But I still, given that it was going to bleed, think I made the best choice.  Wash it, take the hit, and send it off to them to be used.  However next time, I'll remember the lesson learned here.