joanna irl

Container garden: refreshed!

container garden, refreshed

This weekend, I made a project of refreshing my container garden on the back porch. My annuals had either started to die or just looked kind of bad, except for a couple here and there. I combined those remaining petunias and snap dragons into one pot (the one kind of in the middle, wide and gray looking) and replaced the hanging baskets with succulents.

Container garden, succulents

I have two succulents from before, an aloe and another that I’ve no idea the species, but they’re both doing really well on the back porch and I figured more couldn’t hurt. They’re good  when I forget to water them (which happens… I look out at the porch a lot but don’t GO out there every day), and they’re pretty cheap to buy. I got ten different kinds of tiny baby succulents. The kind of silvery one on the far right in this photo is called “Panda plant!” A lot of them have fun names, actually. From left to right in the front I have a “Powder puff” pchyveria, a golden sedum, and the panda plant. In the back is a crassula variety (non-specified) and a rainbow elephant bush. So fun!

container garden, succulents

I tried to choose plants that were different but complementary colors, and that had a variety of shapes to them to make the container interesting. This one has five different types. The one in the front of the shot is an echeveria “topsy turvy,” then a gibbaeum heathii and a purple scallops plant behind it, then a California sunset graptosedum, and the one in the back is a variety of jade plant called, I’m not kidding, Gollum. It was cool looking AND named for a Lord of the Rings character. Awesome!

container garden, daisies

The rest of the plants are mostly okay. My daisy has bloomed again, though it looks like it’s getting ready to go dormant for winter after this. The lavender didn’t survive at all, and I replaced it with a burgundy mum. The tree fern developed a weird yellow fungus type thing in its roots, so it died and I replaced it with a big succulent called a jelly bean (or pork and beans… but I like jelly bean better!) plant that I forgot to photograph. Anyway, the garden looks much happier now and I hope most of the succulents survive.

joanna irl, society of dabblers

Container Gardens, renewed

Container garden 1

This weekend I wanted to get outside and do something, and I also wanted to be productive, so I decided to pull out all of the empty pots that used to be my container garden and redo them.

Container garden 2

The flowers died over the summer and fall because we had an unusually hot and dry season. To be fair, I had some high-maintenance plants (like Gerbera daisies). Anyway, I wanted something fresh, but also something I wouldn’t have to invest too much time or money to maintain. So I bought annuals.

Container garden -- silverbush, vinca, purple flowers

I got a variety of them this time: petunias, vinca, salvia, dahlia, zinnia, fuscias (which are apparently considered annuals here, which is weird), dusty miller, some tiny yellow daisies, and a few other things. All of them looked nice together, so I mixed them all together in the containers.

Container garden -- Red and purple plants

Another idea I had (because I didn’t want to buy too much new soil) was to take the big pots and upend them and use them as plant stands for the smaller pots. I think it turned out really well, A) because it gave height to the garden and B) because it was free.

Container garden -- dusty miller

It was a nice way to spend the afternoon on Saturday, and I’ve had fun checking them every day to see them perk up in the fresh soil. They’ll make for some pretty summer blooms if I can keep them in the shade. And since I’ve put them on the front porch instead of the back, I think they’ll be fine. ^_^

Continue reading “Container Gardens, renewed”

joanna irl

The Big Island really is BIG.

This weekend we took a trip to Hawaii, the “Big Island,” and discovered that it’s very appropriately nicknamed. We barely drove half of it in the three days we were there. To be fair, we spent most of the first two days exploring and hiking around Volcanoes National Park, but we definitely didn’t have the extra 2 1/2 hours (one way) to drive to Kona the evening we thought about going over there. You can loop all of Oahu in 2 1/2 hours. That’s how much bigger that island is.

We flew on an early (5am) flight Friday to take advantage of the whole day (and flew back around 9pm on Sunday for the same reason). We rented a car in the airport and drove through Hilo, which was charming and had lots of little shops (not open at 7am, of course) before heading to Volcano and the park. Once there, it turned out to be such a beautiful day we pulled out our hiking boots and immediately started hitting some short trails. We took a short guided hike with one of the park rangers, and I’m glad we did because he pointed out which of the plants (and birds) are indigenous to Hawaii, and which areas of the park looked like Hawaii did before people brought in all of the “rainforest” plants that are everywhere now. The best hike we did on Friday was to Pu’u Huluhulu, which led to the top of an old cinder cone, the top of which provides a great view of the surrounding area, including the volcano that formed in the 1970s. We stayed at a camp (with cabins) inside the park and it got very chilly at night, so we used the fireplace (fun!).

Saturday we got up fairly early and did some longer trails (a couple of 1 1/2 mile trails and then a 5 mile loop). One was to a site where there are 500 to 700 year old petroglyphs that were amazing. We also walked through a very old and completely inactive lava tube, and then down a winding path to the floor of a caldera that about 50 years ago erupted as a lake of lava, but which is now about 400 feet thick of rock with a few steam vents. We walked partway out into the caldera and then doubled back rather than taking the long way back to the car because we wanted to drive around to the side of the island where you can see lava flowing into the ocean.

We got to the lava viewing area around sunset and discovered that the only way to see lava is to pay (a lot) for a tour to have a “guide” walk you out to it. That seemed a bit much, so we stayed in the main area where you could see the steam clouds rising above the spot where the lava is apparently gushing into the sea. We did see (at a loooong distance) a bright speck that was a lava burst waaaay up on the hillside, but that was about it. The stars out there were amazing, though.

Sunday we left the volcano area and drove back to Hilo, where we toured Mauna Loa Macadamias processing plant and visitor center, went to the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo and then went to about four or five waterfalls. It was beautiful. On the way back from the northern-most waterfall, we saw a detour that said “scenic drive,” so we took it and found the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which was gorgeous, and full of tropical plant species from all over the world. It went down into a valley and eventually to a steep part of the coast with big waves crashing.Then we finished the drive and wound up back in Hilo for dinner, returning the rental car, and our flight home. The Big Island is, I think, the most beautiful island I’ve seen here. ^_^

(edit: apparently this post didn’t completely publish, and I don’t remember what I was saying, but at least I finished that last paragraph. Weird.)

joanna irl

Home Improvements

Feeling very handy today, I decided to take care of some chores that I haven’t felt like doing for a while.

The front garden of our house is maintained by the housing people and it’s (to put it mildly) ugly. To put it not as mildly, it’s brown muddy mudness with weird slug-attracting plants. I have no idea what these plants are, nor can I find them in my Hawaiian plant book. Granted, my plant book is small, but still…

A couple of weeks ago I filled out the paperwork needed to “modify” the garden. Yes, I had to fill out paperwork. I even had to give them a copy of my power of attorney to prove that J didn’t mind me doing it. (YAY military, right?) The form asked what I was going to do, so I wrote “add annuals and perennials” and signed it.

First I dug up the foremost of the weird plants and moved it to the other end of the garden, where it will get full sun and be out of sight. It sort of reminded me of a giant bulb. And now I have several tiny but pretty plants that (I hope!) will fill out the garden. I also planted some ti plants to fill in the holes that the landscape people have made in the shrubs and I planted a hibiscus.

After that, I went to the store and bought a twin sized memory foam mattress pad… for the sofa. I read online that you can restuff sofa cushions by cutting squares of a foam mattress pad and lo and behold! It worked! My sofa now has super comfy cushions and doesn’t look like it’s sagging in the middle (which is where I always sit).

So that was my afternoon, after a morning of cleaning at the zoo. I feel all sorts of productive!

The house still needs a major cleaning, but maybe I’ll get to that this weekend. Maybe.

society of dabblers

Painting: cheaper than therapy

Not that I need therapy, but painting is very relaxing.

The current project is to decorate about a dozen terra-cotta pots to take to the zoo. They’re various sizes and all need to have some sort of “animal” theme, but really I’ve got a lot of leeway with them. I’ve got half of them finished and just need to add the clear coat over the top that will (I hope) make them weatherproof to go in the browse garden.

Browse garden? Well, zoos are always on tight budgets and one way to cut costs (as well as give animals added enrichment) is to grow your own browse, or produce for the animals. Browse can be sweet potato vine, edible hibiscus, flowers, herbs, and regular veggies, too. The garden by the tiger exhibit has catnip, lavender, eggplant, corn, sunflowers, bell peppers, and had collards but the plant finished its growth cycle already.

Anyway, it gives extra food (i.e. the corn can be part of the primates’ diet) or can be enrichment (i.e. extra stimuli) and also makes an otherwise unused area of the zoo look a lot nicer.

So I’m painting pots to go in the garden.

Okay, so the one with the swirlies isn’t exactly animal themed, but it looks nice anyway, don’t you think? The waterfall is the other side of the tiger-laying-down pot in the first photo. I tried to make it look like some Asian paintings I’ve seen recently. They don’t have to be amazing or anything, but it’s kind of fun to think up a new design for each one. Maybe I’ll do geckos on the next one.

joanna irl

Kaimuki Orchid Show

Sunset colors

This weekend I went to the Kaimuki Orchid Society’s orchid show.

There is huge variety in the orchid world, not just in color but in shape and size, too. There were blooms almost as big as my face, and blooms barely bigger than a pin-head. Amazing! Some of them are bred for color and some for smell. Some have stalks that are incredibly tall and some look like other flowers (I saw “pansy orchids“). Some have spots and some have stripes. It was really amazing.


A couple that I volunteer with at the zoo gave me tickets, so I was able to get a free orchid at the show. I also got a little sprout that had been donated (there were a couple hundred of them) and I potted it myself. They are now on my front porch (to get morning sun and not bake in the afternoon).

Long arches

I want to find out how difficult growing orchids really is before I actually buy one, though they seem to be easy enough to keep in Hawaii; it’s the right climate for them here. You can see the rest of my photos from the orchid show starting here. ^_^