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Hilo Jason

Creation of my Hawaiian Garden - Horizon View Hilo

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Hilo Jason

In August of 2017 my wife and I bought our home in Hilo, Hawaii.  This thread will attempt to document the creation of our Hilo garden and also serve as a main thread for me to update over the years with progress pictures.  

Before moving to Hilo, we enjoyed living in Fallbrook, California.  I spent 8 years there building our garden from scratch.  We had the privilege of having many visitors come to that garden over the years including a meeting of the Southern California Palm Society.  We are currently renting that home out and while many palms remain there, several of the prized palms were moved to some amazing Southern California gardens to better ensure their survival over the years.  You can view my final Fallbrook garden thread here:  http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?/topic/55628-fallbrook-california-garden-2009-2017/

I have to say that it is surreal to be living here.  About 10 years ago I got the palm bug.  I quickly found palmtalk, joined the Palm Society and began feasting my eyes on the amazing gardens and palms on the Big Island of Hawaii.  To now be able to visit those gardens and shop from the nurseries in person is like being a kid and waking up on Christmas morning, over and over again.  I would not be here if it wasn't for the inspiration of the amazing Big Island palm growers like Bo, Jeff & Suchin @ Floribunda, Jerry Andersen, Tim Brian, Bill Austin, Kim and many others.  Thank you for the inspiration and the beautiful gardens you have created!   

I hope you all enjoy this thread. 

Here goes...  

 

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Hilo Jason

Our home is on the north side of Hilo, overlooking Hilo Bay.  We are at 600 feet elevation which means we get a bit more rain than what falls closer to the coast and we can get slightly cooler temperatures year round as well.  Which is very nice as it can be a bit warm in town and be very comfortable here on the same day.  Our house is almost exactly 2.5 miles to the water.  

Our property is about 1/2 acre.  Much smaller than most of the Big Island gardens seen here on Palm Talk, but more than twice the size of our California garden.  We wanted to live near town, and it was a requirement to find a place with an ocean view, so we were a bit limited.  But we were very happy to find this place when we did.  

First up, the view! 

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The property has several mature fruit trees that we wanted to keep, but also needed to prune and trim to control them.  It's amazing how fast things grow here, so the landscaping at this place was severely overgrown and crowded feeling.  I quickly began trimming, digging up and planning for my palm garden.  

Here are some views of what I will call our "front yard" throughout this thread.  

A panoramic view of the front yard.  The lost is a long and skinny lot with our view being to the east / southeast.  This is the north side of the property.  A big mango tree is in the center of the grass.  Some big paper bark type of eucalyptus are on the right, under the power lines.  It appeared as if they had been trimmed over and over due to the power lines, so they were a bit of an eyesore and also taking up way too much valuable yard space.  They would have to go, but were a much bigger job than what I could do on my own!  More on that shortly! 

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A different angle into the front yard, this is from the house and looking into this same front yard.  Very overgrown with shrubs, trees, etc...  

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Going into the back yard now.  This is the south facing area of the property and included a few very large and overgrown avocado trees, once of which was being overtaken by a Banyan.  It also has a grouping of 16 very large Archontophoenix Alexandrae that are probably 40 - 50' tall.  While these are common palms here, I've decided to keep them on the property as I like the grouping they are planted in and they give height to the garden.  

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Stepping further back into the yard (Avocado trees are on the far left, our daughter for scale on the right checking out a small Plumeria tree):

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Later in the day before the sun sets:

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What was really overwhelming about the back yard was the far southern corner of the yard.  This is where the Banyan tree was overpowering an Avocado tree and it was also full of many Rose Apple trees that were messy and ugly (in my opinion).  This was prime yard space in my opinion so it all had to go.  This is also the area of the yard where all greenwaste and fronds had piled up.  This was the home for many rats, centipedes and more!  

A Panoramic view of this overgrown corner:

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A few more shots of what I was up against! 

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It wasn't until after we closed escrow and I was spending more time in the yard that I noticed what looked like a palm type trunk in this back corner (just to the left of me in the above picture).  I wasn't sure what it was honestly.  It looked old, but I couldn't see any of the crown, just trunk.  I got in to take a better look... 

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I looked up and was excited to see coconuts way up there!  I wasn't planning on planting any coconut palms due to the small size of the property and not wanting to deal with falling fruit, but being a Californian, I was excited to find this very old Samoan Dwarf Coconut on the property and figured that since it was in the back corner, I would leave it there and work around it with my plans for this area of the garden.  (You'll see just how large this palm is in a later post) 

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Every spare moment I had was dedicated to digging up, trimming and hauling load after load of greenwaste to the Hilo dump.  Thankfully there is no charge to take green waste from residential yards to the dump, and it's all broken down and turned into mulch which is free for people to pick up here.  In the first couple of months I estimate that I hauled about 15,000 pounds of material out of the yard.

These bananas were blocking part of the view and all the shrubs to the right of them needed to go as well.  These shrubs ran for about 60' in length and ranged from 6' deep to 15' deep in some sections.  All of it had to go and all roots had to be dug up.  

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This is about the time that I learned what Little Fire Ant bites felt like!  They love living in these clumps of banana trees.  Anything that wasn't covered (in this case my wrists and neck) would get bit up and the burning was hard to get used to, but eventually I did.  (I now get treated for them and don't have to deal with them!!)

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After several weeks of nonstop digging, hauling and breaking my body, I had to get away and actually go buy some palms!  I figured I didn't move to Hawaii to spend most of my time at the dump and the rest of my time getting bit by fire ants! 

Here's the first load of palms that I brought back from Bill Austin's nursery.  Feeling like a kid in a candy store would be an understatement about how I felt (and still feel) going to Bill's place to go shopping.  I would also make several all day trips to Floribunda which are mind blowing experiences.  The best of the best when it comes to palms!  

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Unloading the goods! 

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A couple Areca Macrocalyx and Areca Vestiaria Red Form

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Masoala Madagascariensis, Dypsis Ampasindavae

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Lots of stuff!  Dypsis Sp Bef in the middle (tied up still)

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Hilo Jason

IMG_0010.thumb.JPG.96d39e629de2147258c9b

Dypsis Betefaka (Blue Decipiens)

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Dypsis Sp ? (A soon to be giant Dypsis from what I've seen from Bill's plant in the ground)

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Dypsis Mananjarensis tied up and coming out of the truck.  Dypsis Hovomantsina laying down

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Dypsis Mananjarensis and Hovomantsina

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Hilo Jason

A wide view of everything unloaded:

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Back into the bush for more trimming and clearing! 

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Hilo Jason

I grew tired of clearing and hauling and had to finally get some palms in the ground.  I wanted colorful palms to accent the front of the house that at the time just had basic shrubs for the most part.  Our front door is up above.  The first floor of the house is a separate guest apartment that we have now set up as a vacation rental (shameless plug!)

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A different angle:

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The first palm planted here was this Areca Vestiaria:

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Up next was a dream palm for a Californian now living in Hawaii - Crytostachys Renda!!!  It's doesn't get better than this and it felt unreal cutting this pot off and realizing I was actually planting one of these in my yard.  Still feels wild! 

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In it's new home:

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Hilo Jason

First 2 palms in the ground: 

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Many more to come, but first, time to bring in the professional tree guys to start taking out what I can't do on my own!  

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The sun is rising and the tree guys are coming.  Some serious clearing is about to start happening and I can finally start planning my garden! 

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This starfruit tree in the front yard was 30' tall and loaded with more fruit than we could eat, juice and give away. (you can see the fruit up there)

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Cutting down and chipping the big eucalyptus trees that were lining the front street.  We also heavily pruned the starfruit and chipped it up and we selectively pruned the mango and chipped that up as well.  This was done 8 months ago (from writing this post) and I am just now finally getting through the mulch and chippings from this front yard project.  

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Now into the back yard.  Not sure what this fan palm was, but I know it was not a Pritchardia.  It's not a good picture to try to get an ID, but I decided to have it removed to make room for new plantings.  It took up a lot of valuable space in the back yard.  The leafy branches in the foreground of the pic belong to the giant avocado trees that were shading this entire part of the yard.  

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Next up, the giant avocado trees got heavily pruned.  I was assured they would come back quickly (which they have) but the yard sure started to look naked and exposed as we started seeing more and more of the neighbors houses!  Thankfully everything grows fast here and we now have almost full privacy in this area again due to new plantings and re-growth.

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If you look closely, you can see the tree trimmers rope up in the tall Archontophoenix Alexandrae palms.  He climbed those to get up high enough, tied himself up there and the would repel over to the avocado tree to start bringing it down.  These guys used some incredible precision while doing this and as you can see by the power and utility wires running through the yard, that was a necessity! 

This is also a good angle to show just how overgrown the back corner of the yard was.  There were 8 Rose Apple trees in that corner along with the Banyan Tree that was choking out an Avocado.  Not too mention all sorts of vines and under story plants all growing in there.  As a reminder, this is where my mystery Coconut palm was discovered that I mentioned earlier in this thread.  

Avocados are now fully pruned down to just tall stumps.  The undergrowth of this entire area is shell ginger, and it's everywhere!  This would almost all eventually be pulled up.  But not quite yet.  

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Hilo Jason

Unfortunately I don't seem to have any photos of the tree trimming that happened in the back corner of the yard.  I was too busy hauling branches to the chipper.  While the tree trimmers were in there taking care of that corner, I was tearing out bushes and cutting everything I could so that I could run it through the chipper and take advantage of getting as much mulch as possible.  The more I could chip while the chipper was there, the less I had to haul off to the dump!  

But, after a full day of trimming and chipping, I could finally see the coconut! 

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I'm not a coconut expert in any way, but I've been told this is a Samoan Dwarf variety.  Kind of crazy to me since it's huge, but I was told it must be incredibly old to be that large.  It does have dwarf featuring in my opinion like the very tight spacing of the leaf scars and also the coconuts themselves are much larger than what I see around town on the tall variety coconuts.  But I don't know and if you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

A panoramic view of the back corner with me in there checking out my newly discovered and prime yard space.  On the left you can see a pile of coconuts that I found under all the fronds that had been piled up in this corner as we were clearing it out.  Many of which are sprouted.  I've given these away to some neighbors and I've used the un-sprouted ones to line planters in the yard (you'll see that later).  

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And a view from the private road in front of our house, looking back into the yard.  You can see the silhouette of the coconut on the left, under the very tall Archontophoenix Alexandrae.  Piles of mulch everywhere all along the inside of the fence.  

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BS Man about Palms

So jealous and yet so happy for you at the same time! Keep it up Jason!

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Hilo Jason
Just now, BS Man about Palms said:

So jealous and yet so happy for you at the same time! Keep it up Jason!

Thanks Bill!  I hope you can make it out this way sometime soon.  Many more posts to come.  I have months worth of pictures I am going through that show the progress of this place.

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Hilo Jason

Now that the major trimming is finished, it's time to start getting more plants in the ground!  Thanks to Tim (realarch) for the endless supply of Ti Plants I can start filling in some planters and adding more color.  Some Ti's are added to this front planter along with an Areca Catechu Dwarf that I was surprised to find for sale at the local big box store!  This truly is heaven on earth, hah! 

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Although Hilo is known as a very wet and rainy city, the sun does come out a lot and it's glorious!  My daughter and I call it magical.  All the colors light up and leaves shimmer.  I love it.  Here's a good photo of the magic happening.  This is the front yard, majorly thinned out from all the bush and trees that are now cut down and pulled out.  Compare this picture to the first picture I posted of the front yard!  You can see the Mango tree on the right of this pic below for some reference and comparison.  You can really see the size of this Archontophoenix Alexandrae grouping.  All of my newly acquired potted palms are below, waiting for their new homes in the ground.

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A new leaf opening on this Dypsis Ampasindavae as it waits to be planted. 

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bgl

Jason,

Outstanding photos and commentary. First of all, I can totally relate to your excitement about being here! Nothing like it! :) The old question (or is it an expression?) "Are we having fun yet?" comes to mind, and it's pretty obvious what the answer is here! :D So yes, keep it up and keep having fun. And plant a few palms in between all the fun. Or however you work it out! :D And maybe one of these days come out to Leilani Estates - in between the eruptions. Could happen! :mrlooney:

Bo-Göran

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Hilo Jason

Besides some random plantings here and there, my first main planting project was our driveway.  I wanted to get this entire area planted so that the front of our house would have privacy, color and a tropical palmy feel.  

This section had grass growing on it that needed to be dug out and sprayed to make sure it didn't just grow right back up through the mulch (even though there's a thick coat, remember everything here grows like crazy!).  There was also a lot of rock, asphalt and concrete pieces in this area that I dug up and would eventually re-use in the yard as planter borders, steps, etc...  I then started digging holes and came to realize that this part of the yard had very little dirt in it!  Everywhere I would dig I would hit rocks.  Some large, some small.  I would dig the rocks up and use them to create the planter borders that you can see below and will see throughout our garden.  It's a lot of work, but I love that the rock material is already here, just waiting to be dug up and used!  After planting, I would then haul over loads of mulch to start filling it all in.  

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Filling in:

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Above, from left to right: Bentickia Condapanna (3), Areca Macrocalyx (2 in back), Dypsis basilonga (2 in front), Areca Catechu Alba (2 - far right)

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More Ti Plants courtesy of one of my neighbors. (A nice improvement over my Fallbrook neighbors, one of which would yell at me just for walking by her house!)

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Dypsis Basilonga up close.  Newly planted Ti's that were just trimmed off of the neighbors plants.  Within a few months these look great.  Also some pineapple plants in the front row that were the tops of pineapples we ate and are now growing here.  Did I already say heaven on earth?   (minus the fire ants, rat lung disease, earthquakes, lava flow, and false missile alerts!) 

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Hilo Jason
14 minutes ago, bgl said:

Jason,

Outstanding photos and commentary. First of all, I can totally relate to your excitement about being here! Nothing like it! :) The old question (or is it an expression?) "Are we having fun yet?" comes to mind, and it's pretty obvious what the answer is here! :D So yes, keep it up and keep having fun. And plant a few palms in between all the fun. Or however you work it out! :D And maybe one of these days come out to Leilani Estates - in between the eruptions. Could happen! :mrlooney:

Bo-Göran

Thanks Bo.  Yes, plenty of fun and plenty of palms to plant!  And finding a good balance between the 2 seems to be pretty easy.  I really do hope to make it down to Leilani Estates very soon.  Maybe when you are back from Colombia? 

 

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This Dypsis (I believe is what was going around as Metallic Ovobontsira) is busting through it's pot.  Time to put it in the ground!  

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Now in the ground in the driveway area planter:

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Hilo Jason

One of my favorite palms from my California garden was my Dypsis Mananjarensis (Mealy Bug Palm).  That palm is now in a good friend's garden in Fallbrook, being well cared for.  

This large 15 gallon was planted in the front driveway planter so it's visible when I drive in and out everyday and from our front door.  Getting ready to plant:

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In the ground, my apologies for the poor lighting.  It's hard to tell as there's nothing to show scale, but that newest spear is probably 8' tall in this picture. 

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And an Areca Catechu Dwarf added to the driveway planter:

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And an Areca Ipot:

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That's it for tonight.  More to come very soon...

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Monòver

Amazing!!! A dream come true.

:yay:

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jimmyt

Hilo Jason,

Congratulations on pursuing your dream and making it come true.  Your efforts will be rewarded.   What a view you have there.    Post again with your finished Estate!

Mahalo!

 

jimmyt

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Palm Tree Jim

You are killing me Jason!!

Looking great.

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ChrisJordanDDS

Wow, thanks for sharing!  I'm living vicariously.

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quaman58

How come Jeff Markus never ships me any that big? Beautiful place there Jason; I'm envious, but thrilled for you..

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Chris Chance

Looking amazing Jason! Hard work is starting to pay off big time!

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realarch

Being my neighbor here in Hilo, I can say Jason you have done a great job. Hard work? Oh yeah. The transformation has been amazing and being 5 minutes away

I have seen it first hand. Really nice to have you so close. 

Tim

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colin Peters

Great pictures Jason. Will be exciting to see the garden as it grows. I had Bill ship me pallets of palms to Oahu from his nursery, years back, for a client, it was exciting

to put them in the ground. His palms were exceptionally grown and healthy. Good luck, must be great to have Tim as a close neighbor. 

aloha

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Hilo Jason

Thanks for the posts everyone! 

Monover - It really is a dream come true in many ways, not just for the plants but also for the laid back island lifestyle that I enjoy thoroughly. 

jimmyt - Yeah, the view here is what attracted us, and the fact that I can plant almost as much as I like without blocking the view.  It's the perfect set up for us.  More pics to come soon.  Keep an eye on this thread! 

Jim - only took me 8 months to finally start this thread, hopefully you can make it out in person soon!

ChrisJordan - Thanks

quaman - Most everything I've shown so far that I bought from Jeff would all be too big to ship.  And most of the stuff I'm buying from Floribunda is not certified to ship as it's not grown on the benches there, but outside on the ground.  Once stuff gets too big to ship, it gets potted up and sold to those of us who are lucky enough to live out here.  It feels too good to be true and I smile the entire time on my 25 minute drive home from Floribunda.

Chris - thanks! You spent a lot of time in my Fallbrook garden, hopefully you can make it out this way as well. 

Tim - It's a privilege to be your neighbor and I'm so thankful that anytime I stop by your place I come home with plants!  Thank you!  Your place was a huge inspiration for me before we moved here since we are so close, at the same elevation and have similar sized lots.  Once I saw what you were able to do in a short amount of time, I started packing my bags!

Colin - Thanks for the kind words.  I am a bit impatient as I'm waiting to really see the growth but I know this first year will be a time of everything getting rooted into the ground before I see much happening above ground.  I just want to see that rapid Hawaiian growth kick in already!  And yeah, buying plants from Bill is amazing.  Very well grown and cared for. And yes, having Tim as a neighbor is great and I get to peak over at his jungle every morning after dropping my daughter off at school.

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palmfriend

A beautiful thread! Being able to follow this development of a new garden in Hawaii while explained in a

"page-turning" style and illustrated with great pictures is just beautiful!

Jason, all the best to you, your family and your new garden over there in Hawaii!

Thank you very much for sharing -

best regards from Okinawa

Lars

PS: Finding a mature coconut palm on your new property hidden by other plants is really funny! :D

 

 

 

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Palmaceae

Jason,

Looks great! That was a massive amount of work you did. I just moved from my home in Cape Coral to another house in Cape Coral. We transplanted 52 palms to the new garden and that almost killed me! So I can imagine how you felt after all that work.

Blessing!

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Hilo Jason
On 5/21/2018, 11:30:15, palmfriend said:

A beautiful thread! Being able to follow this development of a new garden in Hawaii while explained in a

"page-turning" style and illustrated with great pictures is just beautiful!

Jason, all the best to you, your family and your new garden over there in Hawaii!

Thank you very much for sharing -

best regards from Okinawa

Lars

PS: Finding a mature coconut palm on your new property hidden by other plants is really funny! :D

 

 

 

Thanks Lars!  More pictures to come shortly so keep an eye on this thread.  The weather has just been too nice to be indoors though lately!  

And yeah, it was something else to find that coconut here! 

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Hilo Jason
On 5/21/2018, 12:10:26, Palmaceae said:

Jason,

Looks great! That was a massive amount of work you did. I just moved from my home in Cape Coral to another house in Cape Coral. We transplanted 52 palms to the new garden and that almost killed me! So I can imagine how you felt after all that work.

Blessing!

Wow, transplanting 52 palms sounds like a lot of work!  Hopefully you will start a thread here on Palm Talk to showcase the work you are doing on your new garden. 

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Hilo Jason

Ok, here are a few more updates.  I have several months of photos to catch up with so I will keep chipping away at them as I have some free time.  It's a beautiful day today here in Hilo so I hear the yard calling my name.  But first, a few photos...

Time to get the 15 gallon Dypsis Hovomantsina in the ground:

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with my daughter for scale:

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This is planted right across from the Dypsis Mananjarensis and is already one of my favorite spots in the garden.  (Did I mention I dug out and moved all those lava rocks!)

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And as you can see in the above pic, our sweet dog Rocky has now made it to Hawaii.  We had to come here a few months before he was allowed to fly as we were waiting for his flight approval to come through due to animal quarantine laws they have here.  It was a great day when he showed up and you will begin seeing him in a lot more pictures as he is always by my side in the garden.  Rocky is also great for adding scale as he is a good sized dog at 75 pounds. 

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Hilo Jason

Speaking of Rocky, he was curious to explore his new garden.

Checking out the front driveway planter:

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Lots of potted palms behind him, on deck to be planted very soon:

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Slightly different angle showing a 1 gallon Lemurophoenix halleuxii on the far left.  And there is another one right behind him on the inside of that rock wall planter.  The idea here is that one day these 2 Lemurophoenix palms will frame a nice entrance from the driveway into this front yard.  

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Another angle of one of the Lemurophoenix, looking into the yard from the driveway.  Rocky doesn't seem too impressed with this palm yet, but hopefully within his lifetime he will be! 

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Time to dig another large hole and plant this 10 gallon Dypsis Ampasindavae.  Thankfully the dirt in this front yard is pretty easy digging.  While there are some good sized rocks still in the ground, it's not solid rock like areas of our back yard.  Lots of soil must have been brought in at some point when the grass was put in.  

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Closer up to get a bigger view of the plant:

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Happily in it's new home:

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