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Here we go again - creating Pepe'ekeo Palm Paradise


Hilo Jason

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I've been meaning to start this thread for awhile now, but have been too busy with the work that this new property has needed to have much free time to post about it.  We are rained in here on the Big Island for a few days, so the time has come to finally document this project and what will soon be our new home here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

Quick recap, our family moved from Fallbrook, CA to Hilo, Hawaii in 2017.  We have a great home in town on 1/2 acre of land.  You can read all about the creation of that garden here.  It's amazing how quickly you can fill up 1/2 acre here, especially when there was already some existing fruit trees and landscaping that we had to decided to keep and work around.  I didn't plan on getting a larger property because I wasn't sure I wanted to take on all of the work that they require, but here we are with this new thread 😂

In October 2020 we had the opportunity to buy (nearly) ocean front acreage about 12 miles north of town.  This part of the island is called the Hamakua Coast and upon moving here, it quickly became our favorite area.  It's funny because we wouldn't have had the opportunity to buy this property if it wasn't for our dog Rocky and his fear of fireworks!  New Year's Eve in Hilo is like a warzone, hours of non stop fireworks and explosions happening til the early AM hours.  Rocky would have a heart attack if exposed to that, so we never stay in town for the few days leading up to and after New Years.  We camped for a couple of years in a remote valley and then we decided to find an Airbnb that would feel sorry for our dog and allow us to stay with him.  Thankfully we found one in the Pepe'ekeo Point area.  We quickly fell in love with the area and got to know many of the neighbors on our daily walks with Rocky, exploring the bluffs and streams and dreaming of how amazing it would be to have the opportunity to live in this area.  

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(Rocky enjoying the peace of Pepe'ekeo Point while we dream of the idea of having a place here)

We heard through the grapevine of a 2 acre property that the owner was interested in selling.  We were able to contact the seller directly and talk about the details.  A realtor friend helped us finalize the deal and less than 30 days later, we had bought the property.  It still feels surreal! 

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(First time walking on the property, wondering what we are getting ourselves into!)

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(Opposite view, facing the ocean) 

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(The bluff behind our property.  All shorelines in Hawaii are public property and should be accessible for fishing and exploring.  Thankfully this area of the island is like that) 

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2 minutes ago, Hilo Jason said:

I've been meaning to start this thread for awhile now, but have been too busy with the work that this new property has needed to have much free time to post about it.  We are rained in here on the Big Island for a few days, so the time has come to finally document this project and what will soon be our new home here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

Quick recap, our family moved from Fallbrook, CA to Hilo, Hawaii in 2017.  We have a great home in town on 1/2 acre of land.  You can read all about the creation of that garden here.  It's amazing how quickly you can fill up 1/2 acre here, especially when there was already some existing fruit trees and landscaping that we had to decided to keep and work around.  I didn't plan on getting a larger property because I wasn't sure I wanted to take on all of the work that they require, but here we are with this new thread 😂

In October 2020 we had the opportunity to buy (nearly) ocean front acreage about 12 miles north of town.  This part of the island is called the Hamakua Coast and upon moving here, it quickly became our favorite area.  It's funny because we wouldn't have had the opportunity to buy this property if it wasn't for our dog Rocky and his fear of fireworks!  New Year's Eve in Hilo is like a warzone, hours of non stop fireworks and explosions happening til the early AM hours.  Rocky would have a heart attack if exposed to that, so we never stay in town for the few days leading up to and after New Years.  We camped for a couple of years in a remote valley and then we decided to find an Airbnb that would feel sorry for our dog and allow us to stay with him.  Thankfully we found one in the Pepe'ekeo Point area.  We quickly fell in love with the area and got to know many of the neighbors on our daily walks with Rocky, exploring the bluffs and streams and dreaming of how amazing it would be to have the opportunity to live in this area.  

IMG_4023.thumb.JPG.3f03ef695ed8514d222bac4256324aa7.JPG
(Rocky enjoying the peace of Pepe'ekeo Point while we dream of the idea of having a place here)

We heard through the grapevine of a 2 acre property that the owner was interested in selling.  We were able to contact the seller directly and talk about the details.  A realtor friend helped us finalize the deal and less than 30 days later, we had bought the property.  It still feels surreal! 

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(First time walking on the property, wondering what we are getting ourselves into!)

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(Opposite view, facing the ocean) 

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(The bluff behind our property.  All shorelines in Hawaii are public property and should be accessible for fishing and exploring.  Thankfully this area of the island is like that) 

Are you permitted to plant on the bluff? Just curious

Lucas

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As I mentioned, the property is 2 acres, however there is an additional 4 acre parcel that is included in our deed that we have an exclusive easement through and on that is between us and the ocean.  We are legally allowed to fence this area and landscape it, but it is not ours to build on.  Some of it is zoned as conservation as a shoreline parcel so that protects anyone from ever building or developing on it.  This entire area used to be Sugar Cane land.  Once the sugar industry left Hawaii, large areas of land were subdivided and made available.  Because of this, the property was nothing but weedy grasses (that grow insanely fast) and some junk trees.  

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Thankfully we learned of a local guy with a huge bush hog mower and bailer who will cut and bail grasses like this to use as cattle feed.  The picture below shows the approximate 2 acre portion of our lot freshly mowed:

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I was on a flight to Honolulu right after the property was mowed for the first time and here's the view from the plane, the brown lot in the middle on the coast (with the 4 junk trees) is our property: 

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Knowing that the grass would get cut and bailed every 4 months or so, we decided to just focus on keeping the perimeter cleared and mowed low.  We also knew that our first step had to be building a fence to keep wild pigs out before we started planting.  

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(Time to buy a riding mower) 

Any areas that I could not clear with the riding mower, I cut through with my weed wacker that has a saw blade attachment.  We started discovering old fence posts, metal wire, etc...  

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(Clearing fence lines and discovering old T posts that we would re-use for the new fence eventually)

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(Rock wall culvert that will get worked into future landscaping plans) 

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Some friends of ours helped us with the fencing.  Thankfully this part of the island has nice deep soil, so it's easy to put up this field fencing.  I feel for the guys that do this in the lava rock areas of our island! 

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After all of the fence building, Rocky decided it was a good time for a break on the bluff: 

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View looking out to the ocean: 

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Nearby stream: 

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That is a beautiful location! I will be following this thread for sure!

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Palms - 4 S. romanzoffiana, 1 W. bifurcata, 4 W. robusta, 1 R. rivularis, 2 B. odorata, 1 B. nobilis, 3 S. palmetto, 1 A. merillii, 1 P. canariensis, 1 BxJ, 1 BxJxBxS, 1 BxS, 3 P. roebelenii, 1 H. lagenicaulis, 1 H. verschaffeltii, 8 T. fortunei, 1 C. humilis, 2 C. macrocarpa, 1 L. chinensis, 1 R. excelsa, 1 S. bermudana, 1 L. nitida

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Now with fencing up, we start planting palms.  Most of what we plant will be small palms, but I couldn't pass up a good deal on a couple of huge Chrysolidocarpus (Dypsis) Lastelliana:

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You'll also notice there's a pile of rock on the left.  Since this entire lot is soil (a good problem to have) there is no rock here, so any rock needs to be brought in.  Other parts of the island have to bring in soil, this area needs rock. 

Time to start creating a planter area.  We decided to cut into the sloped hill and tie in a rock wall with the culvert wall.  

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Planting the fence lines to give us future privacy:

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Having a new property is a great excuse to go to Floribunda to buy palms!  Much of what we started planting was bought as 4" and 1 gallon plants and then grown up into 3 gallon containers before planting.  Since we don't live on this property yet, we are only there once a week or so.  We wanted more root mass to support the plants since they are one their own out there.  No supplemental watering after planting, etc...  

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Potted up palms getting ready for the new property: 

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Starting with a blank, 2 acre slate can be pretty overwhelming.  With absolutely no canopy, there is no protection for young palms.  There is salt influence, a lot of wind and much more sunshine than what we experience at our house in Hilo that is at about 550 ft elevation.  

Inspired by Bo Lundkvist's garden and planting by region, I decided to plan out some regional areas on my blank slate.  I honestly had no other ideas of how to even begin something of this scale.  This helped me group palms together and come up with a master plan of some planter areas.  The first two planters I would create would be Madagascar and New Caledonia.  

The Madagascar planter would be roughly 60' x 30' with a grass pathway weaving through it.  Big Dypsis / Chrysolidocarpus (I really don't like this new name!!!  If you see me using Dypsis, I apologize, I can't seem to get used to the new one)  would be the key plantings in this planter and would be planted roughly 15 - 18' apart from each other. 

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(Dypsis Robusta)

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(Decipiens Hybrid)

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(Looking down from the street.  Madagascar palms spaced out and the planter idea is taking shape.  The planter along the fence is a mix of all types of palms with the idea of creating a thick screen eventually so our future home will not be visible from the road.  All of the Ti and companion plants in this area were cuttings from our Hilo garden.  

 

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We cut down and mulched the 4 large junk trees on the property.  This gave me the woodchips I wanted to help create the Madagascar and New Caledonia planters. 

In the photo below, the New Caledonia planter is closest and Madagascar is behind it.  

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New Caledonia planter starting to take shape:

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Planting more palms of Madagascar:

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(L to R: Orania Trispatha, Chrysalidocarpus Robusta Hybrid, Chrysalidocarpus Orange Crush)

I try to plant something every week or so.  This week was this Chrysalidocarpus Prestonianus and a Chrysalidocarpus ifanadianae

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Prestonianus planted out:

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It's starting to take shape:

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At this point, we are about 1 year into owning the property (Oct 2021).  We had been mowing the front 1/2 acre or so of the property, around these planters.  There was a rather steep area in this section that I didn't want to just be steep grass.  So we brought in a mini-excavator and carved out the hillside a bit into a two leveled terraced planter.  This would require a couple more large truckloads of rocks to be brought in (as well as a steroid shot in my back) as I started planning out the rock walled terraced planter area.  

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Building the Rock Walls.  These are dry stacked and don't have any concrete or mortar.  

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I would take a break on the rock work to plant more palms, like this Chrysalidocarpus Bejoufa in the Madagascar section:

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The pathway through the Madagascar planter is taking shape: 

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More rock work (HIPS president Rick Kelly is my inspiration for this rock work, his looks much better than mine)

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The front planter is filling in with these elephant ear plants that I brought over from my Hilo garden.  They spread like crazy once they got into the Hamakua soil .   Small palm in the center is Chrysalidocarpus sp Jurassic Park (not sure what that is now) and on the right is a Chrysalidocarpus Malcomberi Hybrid (that is starting to look a lot like Prestonianus) 

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It's coming together, planters are taking shape:

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The idea with this part of the property was to space the planters out far enough from each other that I could drive my truck through all areas.  There's a 20' wide grass area in between the Madagascar and New Caledonia planters and about 15' from the fenceline to Madagascar.  This will also hopefully allow for viewing areas that are outside of the jungle (one day).  

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(Chrysalidocarpus Ifanadanae on right, Decipiens hybrid behind that) 

20' spacing in between the planters for driving / viewing:

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Time to do more rock work:

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I decided to plan stairs into the terraced rock walls so I started carving those out:

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More Palms! 

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(L to R: Chrysalidocarpus Betefaka (Blue Decipiens), Chrysalidocarpus sp Ambanja, Ravenea Dransfieldii)

 

 

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And more rock work:

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Almost there! 

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Rocky got a new best friend named Gracie.  They like laying in the car while I do all the work

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Except for when they come out and want to "take a break" on the bluff 😂

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Time to start planting palms in this terraced area.  Starting with these 2 Areca Catechu Dwarfs on each side of the future stairs:
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Finished up the stairs and planted Cyrtostachys Renda on each side of the upper stairs:

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Now it was time to bring out the rest of the palms for this terraced planter.  Rather than going with a regional themed idea, we decided this would be the "trophy" area with some of my favorites, rare or one of a kind palms.  When standing on the grass below, it's raised just enough to enjoy them at eye level while they are young, and then they will eventually canopy over the lower area and be at eye level with the upper area.  

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(Chrysalidocarpus Mystery on left, seed collected in Madagascar, more on this later.  Hovomantsina Hybrid on right) 

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(Chrysalidocarpus Hovomantsina Hybrid)

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(Chrysalidocarpus Leucomalla) 

In the ground! 

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Looking down from the upper area: 

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Terraced Planter:

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The below palm is one that I have posted on Palm Talk before.  It was collected by a friend from seed in Madagascar.  He referred to it as Dypsis "Sp Column" because he said it was a large solitary palm, similar to the size of a robust king palm.  The parent plant was growing in front of a small hotel in North East Madagascar and it was the only one he saw like it.  This photo is now a year old and it remains solitary and is getting larger and more colorful.  I'm sure I will post about it frequently over the years in this thread and hope that it one day seeds for me so I can get it out to more gardens.  

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Looking at the New Caledonia planter:

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Madagascar planter:

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Chrysalidocarpus Malcomberi Hybrid: 

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20' spacing area in between planters for viewing / driving:

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These latest photos were from April 2022 and are the latest I have saved on my computer.  I will work on getting more unloaded off of my phone so I can keep this thread updated.  In the past few months I have created a new planter area for Hawaii / Pacific Island palms, as well as an orchard area.  We are actually in the finishing stages of getting our house plans finished now, so the driveway will be the next major project as that will be 300 feet long and will be lined with palms along the entire way to the house site.  I have all of the palms here in my Hilo garden in pots, waiting to go in the ground.  

Thanks for looking and feel free to ask any questions.  I know I didn't ID a lot of whats in these as I plan to later as they grow and get larger.  

Aloha! 

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1 hour ago, Little Tex said:

Are you permitted to plant on the bluff? Just curious

Not on the bluff as that is state conservation land.  Although I think it might be possible with a permit and if they are native plantings.  But getting a permit is no easy task here in Hawaii! 

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Good grief Jason…speechless. I can’t believe how much work you’ve accomplished since our visit to your new place in back in September, which honestly, seems like just a couple of weeks ago. Boundless energy my friend with a passion to match. The thoughtful planning and hard work are future foundations of another ‘Legacy ‘ garden for Hawai’i island. 

For those of us who have been inspired by the repository of such spectacular island gardens, yours will be added to the list that folks will come far and wide to see. To witness the progress of such a garden is a pleasure indeed. 

Your neighbor,

Tim Brian 

 

 

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Tim

Hilo, Hawaii

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21 minutes ago, realarch said:

Good grief Jason…speechless. I can’t believe how much work you’ve accomplished since our visit to your new place in back in September, which honestly, seems like just a couple of weeks ago. Boundless energy my friend with a passion to match. The thoughtful planning and hard work are future foundations of another ‘Legacy ‘ garden for Hawai’i island. 

For those of us who have been inspired by the repository of such spectacular island gardens, yours will be added to the list that folks will come far and wide to see. To witness the progress of such a garden is a pleasure indeed. 

Your neighbor,

Tim Brian 

 

 

Thanks Tim!  And like I've mentioned to you in the past, it's partially your fault that I am here and doing all of this work 😂.  After seeing your garden on our visit, I knew we had to move here.  Also, not sure about that boundless energy stuff, but seems like a good balance of turmeric ginger lemonade and some strong epidural anti inflammatory in my spine help to get the job done!  

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Very impressed, Jason! I can see the results of a lot of hard work and good thinking.

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Mike Merritt

Big Island of Hawaii, windward, rainy side, 740 feet (225 meters) elevation

165 inches (4,200 mm) of rain per year, 66 to 83 deg F (20 to 28 deg C) in summer, 62 to 80 deg F (16.7 to 26.7 Deg C) in winter.

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Jason - thanks for the beginning of another great topic and garden. It was a fun read and I look forward to all the updates to come.

And of course also looking forward to a visit in person during one of our infrequent visits to your side - one of these days.

What a treat not to have to grab an o'o bar and plan for an hour before planting anything 5+ Gal. in size. Things look like they are already taking off.

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Kona, on The Big Island
Hawaii - Land of Volcanoes

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Congrats Jason on that dream property! That's a big accomplishment in such a short period of time. Can't wait to see updated pics as your dream work comes together.

Edited by Palmiz
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WOW Jason, red soil and so close to the Ocean. 🤩

Epic plantings/ rockwork/ stairs etc.. Epic thread. Living LIFE in Paradise. 💯👏👏

Keep at it Jason, with the speed of Plant growth on the Big Island, it'll be a Jungle in just a few years.

You keen Palm growers on the Big Island having Floribunda and Bill Austin to buy from = No words needed. 

Look fwd to updates Jason. 👌

 

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Just picked my jaw up off the floor. Holy smokes that's a lot of work and it looks amazing already! Congrats on your new Pepe'ekeo property and what will be one of the most insane gardens on the planet. I enjoyed reading the whole thing along with the photos of all the progress. Thanks for taking the time to share. Post up a chair on the bluff, throw on some Hawaiian Slack Key Masters and eat a spam musubi for me! 

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I am overusing the word WOW today! Maybe INCREDIBLE works? Such work I love.. by the time I get over there you will be like Pauleen Sullivan and I just make a day of visiting all your palmy properties! Great work and carry on!!

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Zone 10a at best after 2007 AND 2013, on SW facing hill, 1 1/2 miles from coast in Oceanside, CA. 30-98 degrees, and 45-80deg. about 95% of the time.

"The great workman of nature is time."   ,  "Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience."

-George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon-

I do some experiments and learning in my garden with palms so you don't have to experience the pain! Look at my old threads to find various observations and tips!

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17 hours ago, 96720 said:

@Hilo Jason where do you get all the hybrid palms?

I'm fortunate to have Floribunda and Bill Austin nearby, so most of my palms come from them.  The hybrids randomly show up from time to time here which is to be expected with so many dypsis flowering at the same time in these legacy gardens.  

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17 hours ago, mike in kurtistown said:

Very impressed, Jason! I can see the results of a lot of hard work and good thinking.

Thanks Mike, I appreciate it.  Several of the plants you raised from seed are in this new garden with many more on deck to be planted soon.  

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13 hours ago, Dypsisdean said:

Jason - thanks for the beginning of another great topic and garden. It was a fun read and I look forward to all the updates to come.

And of course also looking forward to a visit in person during one of our infrequent visits to your side - one of these days.

What a treat not to have to grab an o'o bar and plan for an hour before planting anything 5+ Gal. in size. Things look like they are already taking off.

Thanks Dean!  Looking forward to you visiting sometime, the invitation is always open.  

And yeah, the soil at the Pepeekeo property feels too good to be true.  Seems like cheating to be able to dig a hole that easily.  The only resistance I had was on one of my fence lines must have been an old sugar cane road at one time as there was about a foot or so of compacted rock and cinder that made that section of fence a bit harder to install than the rest.  

The other interesting thing about this soil, was how "dead" it felt when I first started working it.  There was not a worm in site, anywhere I dug.  I had heard that a lot of this old sugar cane land really got used hard and then just left when sugar stopped.  There were no trees or organics breaking down into the soil.  Plants still seemed to grow well as soon as I planted them though, so that was nice to see.  I am mulching heavily and I am already seeing huge improvements in the quality of the soil (and unfortunately a lot of centipedes due to the mulch!) 

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12 hours ago, Palmiz said:

Congrats Jason on that dream property! That's a big accomplishment in such a short period of time. Can't wait to see updated pics as your dream work comes together.

Thank you!  More pictures coming shortly to get the thread up to date with where it is now

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10 hours ago, 65Pedro said:

WOW Jason, red soil and so close to the Ocean. 🤩

Epic plantings/ rockwork/ stairs etc.. Epic thread. Living LIFE in Paradise. 💯👏👏

Keep at it Jason, with the speed of Plant growth on the Big Island, it'll be a Jungle in just a few years.

You keen Palm growers on the Big Island having Floribunda and Bill Austin to buy from = No words needed. 

Look fwd to updates Jason. 👌

 

Thanks Pete, I definitely feel overwhelmed with gratitude every time I go out there to work on the property.  Feels way too good to be true.  I'm just thankful for every second I spend out there, doing what I love.  

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7 hours ago, Billy said:

Just picked my jaw up off the floor. Holy smokes that's a lot of work and it looks amazing already! Congrats on your new Pepe'ekeo property and what will be one of the most insane gardens on the planet. I enjoyed reading the whole thing along with the photos of all the progress. Thanks for taking the time to share. Post up a chair on the bluff, throw on some Hawaiian Slack Key Masters and eat a spam musubi for me! 

Thanks Billy, if you're ever out this way, you're more than welcome to come and see the place

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6 hours ago, Chris Chance said:

Jason once again you're doing an amazing job on another incredible garden! Hopefully I can come see it someday. 

Thanks Chris, looking forward to your visit one day

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3 hours ago, BS Man about Palms said:

I am overusing the word WOW today! Maybe INCREDIBLE works? Such work I love.. by the time I get over there you will be like Pauleen Sullivan and I just make a day of visiting all your palmy properties! Great work and carry on!!

Thanks Bill!  I remember carpooling with you to one of my first ever So Cal Palm events.  I remember you kept talking about "Big Curley" and I was overwhelmed out of my mind with all this new information and details!  And here I am now in Hawaii, growing all sorts of "Big Curleys", hah!  Good times

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