Let’s go back to Hawaii. I wish I was still there. Everywhere you turn, there are plants and shrubs and vines in full bloom in gardens and parks — here are all the things that we struggle with in our homes and greenhouses — out in the open and flourishing, it seems, without any help from anyone. “We know different, don’t we” No matter where they grow, it takes a whole lot of work to make gardens this beautiful.
Among the most beautiful plantings were those in shopping centers. You see, with no anticipated bad weather, a nice sea breeze and frequent showers, the plants, mostly native to the area, thrive. No, they are not carefree but, rather, easy to care for. Coleus plants that we struggle to get to 2 feet tall in a season thrive. Our cannas often grow to 3 feet, but the same types bloom at 6 to 7 feet. Not only are the blooms beautiful, but many of the varieties are endowed with gorgeous colored leaves. How can you not spend money in such a beautiful environment?
The beauty bubbles over into the landscape. There do not seem to be many trees to rival our oaks and maples. I don’t think that such trees would fare well in the high winds that are so prevalent during some seasons. What I saw were many varieties of palm: coconut palms, heavily laden with their fruit. The stately royal palms — I first saw them in Florida some 50 or 60 years ago, with their magnificent white trunks soaring 40 or 50 feet into the air and then topped with palm fronds — are everywhere.
And that beautiful wedding bouquet flower, the — which wholesales around a dollar per bloom — covers fences around the home. You can simply smell your way to it. Speaking of flowers that smell, even before you see the 10-foot trees of plumeria, you can smell them. The plumeria, called frangipani by the locals, is everywhere. Primarily in reds, yellows and whites, it is the flower most used in the traditional leis. Although, the other day at the airport, we saw a lot of leis made of dendrobium orchids. I sat for a while in a lei-making class at the hotel. It was fascinating. The instructor has a very long at about 16 inches, very thin, but strong needle. She deftly placed eight to 10 blooms on the needle and then gently moved them to the end of the 36-inch string or until they just touched the previous group of flowers. The whole process took but a few minutes. She amazed the class with lore and history of the lei and the stories it could tell. I’d like to spend an afternoon learning. But, alas, it was time to come home.