Busy planting season starts now

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With the weather finally cooling, folks are getting into fall planting projects. Some great opportunities start today at PanaewaRainforest Zoo and Gardens. The Hawaii Chapter of the Vireya Rhododendron Society is having a workshop from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The public is invited and, according to Sherla Bertelmann, participants will receive free vireya plants to try in their gardens. The society will also have its monthly meeting Nov. 15 at the Keeau Community Center from noon until 2 p.m. It is potluck so bring a favorite dish to share. The guest speaker is Glen Jamieson, who will speak on rhododendrons of Vancouver Island and New Zealand. Contact president Bill Miller at 982-8290 for details.

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With the weather finally cooling, folks are getting into fall planting projects. Some great opportunities start today at PanaewaRainforest Zoo and Gardens. The Hawaii Chapter of the Vireya Rhododendron Society is having a workshop from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The public is invited and, according to Sherla Bertelmann, participants will receive free vireya plants to try in their gardens. The society will also have its monthly meeting Nov. 15 at the Keeau Community Center from noon until 2 p.m. It is potluck so bring a favorite dish to share. The guest speaker is Glen Jamieson, who will speak on rhododendrons of Vancouver Island and New Zealand. Contact president Bill Miller at 982-8290 for details.

Next weekend starts off with a super plant sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Kailua Park, formerly known as Old Kona Kona Airport. The event will spark your imagination with bamboos, orchids, succulents, fruit trees and many others. Priced to sell fast, you may even find plants to share with friends and relatives during the holidays.

According to Peter Berg, of Quindembo Nursery, there will be six nurseries participating. He mentioned there will be many bamboos that are ideal for hedges, privacy screens, edible types and for those folks with enough room, giant construction bamboos.

For those interested in growing traditional Chinese tea, on Nov. 7 Tea of the United States will present the “Community Tea In” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Volcano Art Center Niaulani Campus on Old Volcano Road. For more information, call 967-8222 or Eva Lee at 217-5411.

The 17th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is coming up with the Kona Coffee Stroll in Holualoa on Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Farmers will set up booths and offer coffee tastings all day. All the galleries will open their doors and add to the fun atmosphere. Come hungry because there will be plenty of food vendors offering almost any yummy taste delights you desire. Of course, there will be numerous craft artisans there as well. For information, call Anita Kelleher at 305-394-2248.

The Hawaii Chapter of the International Palm Society will also have its November meeting at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The guest speaker will be Don Hemmes, who will cover palm insects and diseases. Meeting date and time has not been set at this writing. Call Mary at 430-0401 for that information.

With Arbor Day just around the corner, it’s a great opportunity to plant trees. Visiting equatorial forest regions around the world, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of deforestation even in the Amazon. It seems like trees are disappearing even in Hawaii, right before our eyes. Let’s change the trend. If each one of us plants a few more trees, it would be an effort in the right direction, at least on our own little piece of paradise. The new widening of Queen Kaahumanu in Kona will give us the opportunity to beautify the drive from Kona International Airport into Kailua-Kona. Rumor has it the state is planning to use drought resistant natives like Kona loulu palms to beautify some parts of the median strip. Landscape plans are in the process of being prepared.

If each one of us planted just one tree this year that would be almost 200,000 new trees on the Big Island.

Trees to consider include narra and kamani. Narra, Pterocarpus indica, is a large tree that grows to 50 feet high. Seedlings should be planted out in the open in deep, well-drained, but moist soil. Narra does not tolerate shade. When grown slowly, this species has a deep red or purplish color to its heartwood. Faster growth results in a golden brown color.

The wood of narra is scented, and it is occasionally marketed under the name rosewood. Narra is noted for its ability to take a high polish, and it is in highest demand throughout the Philippines for furniture production. The wood is very durable and resistant to termites and powder post beetles. It is hard, and seasons well, yet it is easy to work.

The crown of narra is normally broad, spreading, and heavily branched like the monkey pod tree. The density of its foliage makes narra a popular ornamental choice in many parts of the world. It is also used as a shade tree for coffee and other crops.

Kamani, Calophyllum inophyllum, is a handsome, low-branching, more or less crooked or leaning tree, to 50 feet tall, with rough gray bark. It is native on the shores of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is slow to moderate growing. The white flowers suggest orange blossoms and are very fragrant when fresh. The hard, tough wood is valued in tropical Asia for cabinet wood and boats, and formerly in Hawaii for calabashes.

Some other trees available are the bay rum, kou, milo, and Norfolk pine.

The bay rum, Pimenta racemosa, is from the West Indies and Northern South America. The fruit is about 1/3 inch in diameter. The leaves yield an oil from which perfume and bay rum are prepared. This is a medium-sized, slow-growing tree that will do well in a dryer climate with good drainage.

The kou, Cordia subcordata, is indigenous or possibly an early Polynesian introduction. This tree grows to 30 feet or more in height and 3 feet in diameter, with a dense, wide spreading crown. The flowers are orange colored and the wood has good qualities and workability. This tree never became part of a large forest stand in Hawaii. It is often planted for its shade and this tree probably prefers a drier climate. It appears to tolerate some salt spray.

Milo, Tespesia populnea, is also indigenous or possibly an early Polynesian introduction. It is not a forest tree but grown, quite often, as a shade tree around houses. Many small groves can be found near beaches. It is a large sprawling, many branched tree. It grows to 40 feet in height. The wood has good characteristics. It has low shrinkage, easy to work with, takes a high polish and is highly prized by bowl makers.

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The Norfolk Island pine, Araucaria excelsa, is a handsome, columnar, cone-shaped tree with flat lateral branches in whorls spaced at regular intervals. Growth is rapid for the first three to four years. It responds to heavy fertilization when grown in poor soil. This species does very well up to 3,000 feet elevation. It is very drought resistant and salt tolerant. It can be planted by itself or as a windbreak row, spaced 10 to 15 feet apart in the row and between rows. Propagation is by seed or terminal cuttings. This tree may grow up to 100 feet tall and spread to 30 feet wide so make sure you have plenty of room. It is used as a Christmas tree in Hawaii.

For trees in scale with the smaller gardens, visit area nurseries. There are many spectacular native and exotic trees from which to choose.