Tropical blue jade

The exotic blue jade is a tropical perennial plant. It is a climbing vine with vivid sea green-colored flowers. The green-blue unique color makes this plant stand out in any setting.

photo[4]

Its flowers, typically two to four inches in length, are sturdy enough to be used decoratively to make gorgeous leis and other floral decorations. Although they are native to the Philippines, they fit in perfectly on the Hawaiian Islands. When you see them, they are a showstopper—one of those flowers to stop you in your tracks.

photo[3]

Advertisements

Tropical fragrance of gardenias

The gardenia is a genus of flowering plants in the coffee family.  In Hawaii, there are several species of gardenia plants and they are known as na’u. The gardenia flowers have a strong, sweet fragrance that seems to last and last, even when cut. This bunch of gardenias is from the Keauhou Farmers’ Market on the Big Island. The fragrance from the brilliant white flowers lasted for days and days.

photo

Cabin fever

This just in from meteorologists in the Midwest: After this week, this winter will be one of the 10 coldest on record in the past 140 years. This bitter cold forecast adds insult to injury after a foot of snow and ice fell over the past week. All weekend, officials have been warning drivers to stay off the roads. “We continue to advise no driving,” is the headline this morning. “The roads are still awful.”

photo copy

This was the view above the Mississippi yesterday morning. A frozen sea of white, but at least we have a brilliant blue sky to help us get through the predicted low of -2 on this Sunday.

photo copy 2

The snow, heavy and relentless, made for harrowing commutes and window-high drifts. We are running out of places to put our shoveled snow. Here, we have tools like roof rakes to deal with ice dams and roof leaks from the melting and freezing.

Perhaps the most difficult part of our winter is that it’s only February. Last year we had snow in May.

IMG_0225Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know that elsewhere in the world, brilliant blue means something else. For example, on Hapuna Beach on the Big Island.

IMG_6292

Or, the stunning Kohala Coast of the Big Island.

Cabin fever has officially set it. This is when we find ourselves on vrbo.com, searching for a warm getaway. If someone has been lucky enough to escape the cold, this is not the welcome back you hoped for. Somewhere, under all of that, daffodils and tulips are waiting for spring.

On a Sunday morning, dreams of Hawaii get me through winter. We have Hawaiian music playing in the house. I may find some mac nuts and Hawaiian spices in the cupboard for creative cooking. Oh, and if anyone living on one of the Hawaiian Islands needs a gardener next winter, drop me a line.

IMG_2609

Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

Scan 70

On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

The beauty of the Big Island

IMG_4707

When you land at the Kona International Airport (KOA) on the Big Island, you are greeted by the unique beauty of West Hawaii. This is the island known for its active volcano, gorgeous coastlines, diversity in climate and natural, rugged beauty. Once in a while, you find yourself stopping to take it all in, such as when you discover an orchid thriving in a bed of lava rocks. As you explore, the scenery is difficult to describe or categorize. Ocean views or a trip to the 4,200-meter high summit of the Mauna Kea Observatory. Snowboarding or surfing? It’s your choice. The Big Island of Hawaii lives up to its name. It will call you back again and again.

The sweet smell of Hawaii

The minute you step off the plane, it welcomes you. What is it about the smell of Hawaii? Is it the fact that you are on a Pacific island with pure, light tropical breezes?

IMG_1053

DSCN2983Or, the flower-lined paths that warmly welcome you wherever you go? This path laced with Bougainvillea, is especially inviting. Everywhere you look, you see color. On the Big Island, the black of the lava, mixed with the ocean blues and tropical flowers, is especially inviting.

Or, is it one of the world’s sweetest scents of all—plumeria? The yellow ones seem to make the most fragrant leis. When you see them in a natural setting, it’s one of life’s best reminders that you should never get too busy to stop and smell the flowers.

IMG_0214

Orchid House on Lana’i

While the Polar Vortex of 2014 brings record-breaking, dangerous and bitter cold to much of the United States, it’s nice to know that there’s a place on earth where orchids bloom year-long in paradise—a flower lover’s dream come true.

IMG_6561

On social media today, the comments about the cold snap are filled with humor: “Actual thought in my head just now: -14 degrees, that’s not too bad. What’s wrong with me?”

“Strangely, -14 isn’t really that bad if the wind isn’t blowing.”

And the one that Midwesterners often ask ourselves this time of year, especially when we are dealing with a predicted high of -13 for tomorrow: “Why do we live here again?” (Usual answer: Family, roots, the people, or the glorious fall and summer weather. And, even today, it’s brilliant and sunny despite the Polar Vortex gloom and media reports.)

IMG_6559

So it’s nice to know that somewhere out there, on the meticulous grounds and gardens of the Lodge at Koele on Lana’i, sits an Orchid House filled with hanging and potted orchids and tropical flowers–yet one more reason to love the Aloha State.

IMG_6556

Fall colors in Maui?

Autumn, with its spectacular fall colors in the Midwest, is my favorite season. But I don’t particularly care for what comes next. Okay, I could handle some snow and cold for about a month, but after late December, it could all go away and I would be pleased with the return of crocuses and tulips.

So, we often wonder if we would miss the seasons in we lived in Hawaii year-round—the snow melting away in the spring and the leaves changing to brilliant yellows, reds and oranges in the fall. And the answer is probably yes. Well, maybe a bit.

However, while visiting Maui in September, we were surprised that fall colors are actually everywhere. No, it’s not a typical New England or Midwest autumn, but there are subtle changes and the colors of fall are certainly on display.

And even though a monthly average temperature chart of Maui is pretty much a straight line with a little bit of an increase in the months of May through November, some plants and flowers do show seasonal changes. Others display the colors of fall year-round in Hawaii.

Below: The colors of fall in Kula, Maui

IMG_0958

IMG_0962

The colors of fall in West Maui in Kapalua

IMG_0596

IMG_1178

IMG_1177

IMG_0944

IMG_6326