Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hot, the Loud and the Proud #9

Show us your tropicals and exotics, your hot Mediterranean colors and wild combinations, amazing discoveries and unusual variations. Or how about something exciting you just saw, a crazy garden,  amazing garden art or design, an inspiring visit or hike?
This meme is open to all (you do not have to live in an exotic location to participate)  and will be on the last day of each month…so mark your calendars and lets do something fun on the hot, the loud and the proud meme. I’ll have the link available early, east coast time (USA) to catch you early birds and even earlier for those of you in other countries.


Its hard to believe that we are at the start of December and celebrating another hot meme. This month, I’m visiting one of the most popular orchid nurseries on the Big Island called Akatsuka Orchid Gardens up in Volcano with over 200,000 orchids growing in their specialty nursery. At Akatsukas, they specialize in Cattleyas and other hybrid orchids including orchids with scented blooms. A typical hybridized orchid takes up to 5 years to mature from a a tissue cutting to full bloom.

On my way around the display gardens, I found quite a few worth sniffing and admiring some of the more exotic hybrids that they are growing here.

As I mentioned, they are specialty growers of cattleyas especially the scented variety and this first one had a faint whiff of a plumeria.  The vivid purple hues are enough to attract any attention, but the added scent makes you want to stop and enjoy the blooms for a longer time frame.


This black lady slipper/ paphiopedilum caught my eye right away, its striped black on black with dark purple petals are very bold and truly make a statement to any orchids in the display garden. The bottom photo shows the flower starting to come out, it looks more like an alien warship about to take off.



This newer hybrid, I could not even locate a label for so I’m assuming it is not yet named. I haven’t seen this type of orchid with frilly petals and a white green color combination. It is absolutely stunning.

A few more exotic paphiopedilums ordhids on display.


Hope you enjoyed the tour, if you can’t visit this in person, they have a wonderful website to check out what’s happening at

To see other posts to the Hot, the Loud and the Proud please click any of the links below and enjoy your visit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Sweet November Bloomer



Aaaah yes, its that time of the year when the tropical rhododendrons or vireyas are in bloom in Hawaii. Actually they bloom year round, but the heavy flushes are coming out during the winter season. Its quite a show.

One of my early bloomers just started to come out in the front yard and it reminds me of why I just love these beauties, isn’t it sweet to greet me this morning?  This one has a faint morning scent, like vanilla and rose combined, just the right thing to whiff on the way out the door.




To see more beautiful flowers today go and visit

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Room with a Tropical View





While celebrating a group chorus party at the home of our choral director, I noticed the beautiful view from the lanai (outdoor covered room) to this beautiful tropical paradise with rolling lava rocks used as a nice foil to the colorful plants dotting the landscape.

Abundant gingers, heliconias, tis, palms and ferns seem to flourish and grow effortlessly here with no help. This natural garden looks so well placed, and let me say that it takes a lot of effort to pull this look together.  Its not an easy task, let me just explain that most gardens here tend to be filled with solid lava rock that is very difficult to penetrate, with almost no soil or little soil to grow with and weeds galore that seem to find all the right cracks to grow so well.

So to get this effortless look, one has to create beds or berms or the alternate choice – use a jack hammer and drill for large holes which is almost impossible. One can also look for cracks, holes or shallow depressions to fill with soil and create beds which is a very common way to garden and create beds in this hospitable growing condition.

Water features like this are also difficult to create without the water just oozing through the lava rock, and with all the evaporation from hot, humid days, these types of ponds disappear quickly without constant care and attention.

But as you can see, the garden and ponds are a nice visual focal point from the lanai. This area is an ideal view garden filled with colors, textures and shapes and is very pleasing to the eye and one that can be viewed daily without getting tired of the imagery.


This is my contribution for fertilizer friday, to see more beautiful gardens today go and visit tootsie at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Beautiful Winery and Garden


One of my favorite wineries with an inspiring garden has to be Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma County which I visited recently late October. It has that quintessential look of an old world style winery with a walled garden filled with vines growing all around and creating this entryway filled with surprises to delight all who enter.


And it is a surprise once you enter, you have to walk through the garden first before you get to the tasting rooms. This garden really delights all your senses, beautiful gurgling sounds from a water fountain, sweet smelling roses, walking through graveled pathways,a trimmed formal garden with elegant statuary and flowers and even the rustling palms add so much to this visual experience.

Beautiful antique and hybrid roses dot various areas around the walled gardens.



It all adds up to a welcoming experience even before you get a chance to taste their wonderful wines. They add some beautiful seating areas around the gardens and home so you can savor their wines and enjoy the views of the garden and the vineyards.



Colorful plant vignettes like this hand cart filled with flowering perennials line the pathways.



So many beautiful views with entryways filled with vines and potted plants filled with colorful annuals dot the entire winery.



Its enough to spend the afternoon walking around the gardens, but with a nice bottle of St. Jean wines in hand its even more memorable.

To visit other gardens for fertilizer friday go to

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cornerstone = Garden Delight




Such a unique and thrilling experience it is to see such diversity and focus on garden design, art and sculpture, exciting galleries and the outdoor lifestyle all wrapped up into a unique place. This is how I feel about Cornerstone in Sonoma.  This gardening oriented showplace hosts some of the most innovative landscape architects and designers and temporary exhibits in Northern California if not the United states.

On my previous post, I showcased a few of the garden spaces at Cornerstone and now I’ll show you more gardens that peaked my interest with exciting design and new plant concepts.

This relatively newer contemporary space is the work of Delmar McComb is filled with unusual plant combinations (mostly succulents), beautiful hardscaping and sculpture and a focus on biologically diverse, sustainable and innovative spaces. I am completely drawn to this dramatic and yet sensible space filled with exciting succulents and rich plant textures, combinations and colors – it all works so well.













Another newer entry to Cornerstone ,and for some reason I could not find out any information about this installation is this ode to farming with a contemporary twist.  Beautiful beans climb up this metal caged home shell and another boxed frame in front. All around are the lasts remnants of the summer harvest, tomatoes, sunflowers, corn, herbs, grasses and other annuals bringing in some fall color into the space. I was very tempted to pick a few cherry tomatoes and pluck them in my mouth in the last photo.













Fronting the Sonoma hills is the garden from the team Nip Paysage, a Montreal group showing us these fifteen foot Adirondack chairs, beautiful fall daisies and a twisted white picket fence that seems to just run in every strange direction throughout the property.






The children’s garden by MIG is a playful place for children to run, play and build in the garden. It highlights the natural environment and allows interaction and learning with colorful displays, natural materials and plantings showing how and where our food comes from.




Another out of this world garden experience in line more with a mini golf course, in fact golf clubs and balls are included. This space called the Usual Suspects by Martha Swartz consists of nine mini golf courses in a playful and odd combination of layouts with no rules.




Here’s a few more sculpture and art I found on the walks. Amazing form and light really added to enjoying these wonderful displays from the New Leaf Gallery showcasing many contemporary artists.




Cornerstone is such an amazing place to discover new garden designed inspirations, art, food, wine all in a very special place. I hope you take the time to visit this place when you do come to Sonoma or Napa on a wine tasting tour – it will be worth you time to see this.


This is my contribution to fertilizer friday, to see other posts go and visit

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