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Maui: Kula Botanical Garden, Part 1

Back to "Upcountry" — the slopes of Haleakala — where the cool mists provide a very different climate from the beaches for which Hawai`i is well known. Here one finds the Kula Botanical Garden, 8 acres of colorful and unique plants, amazing rock formations, a covered bridge, waterfalls, koi pond, aviary and a carved tiki exhibit. It is a quiet place where one can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature without the crush of crowds that one finds elsewhere. Pictured below is a red Ti plant (pronounced TEE) — which is a common landscaping plant in Hawai`i and often used as a houseplant on the mainland.

Next to the red Ti is its biological cousin, the green Ti plant.

Bromeliads are a varied group of plants, adapted to many climates. For example, the pineapple is a Bromeliad. I was impressed with this specimen because of its bright red leaves containing specks of yellow.

A small koi pond offers a wonderful spot to relax and contemplate life. The frog sitting among the water lilies certainly seems to be enjoying the solitude.

I love the variety of foliage that is growing in and around the pond. This appears to be some type of bamboo grass. However, my friend from Hawai`i tells me that is Equisetum, AKA horsetail, snake grass or puzzlegrass.

Contributing to the peace and quiet of the pond is a small waterfall that feeds the pond with fresh water. What is it about the sound of falling water that brings such a wonderful feeling of serenity?

Upstream just a bit is a stand of yellow ginger.

Up close, one can savor the sweet perfume of its blossoms.

It is always fun to discover an unfamiliar but striking flower such as this Rosemary Grevillea. It is native to Australia.

After something so unfamiliar, here something familiar. It looks like a yucca tree which one might find in Arizona. However, I did not spot a name tag so I cannot be certain. How often one is surprised when a plant looks familiar but is something completely different.

Just above a small bridge is a taro plant, brought to the islands by the ancient Polynesians — and whose root provided the staple starch in the diet of the Hawai`ians prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Taro is one of those plants like rice that thrives under flooded conditions.

Sadly, production of taro in Hawai`i has been declining due to urbanization, pests and diseases. One of my favorite treats when I visit Hawai`i is taro chips — where the taro root is sliced thin then cooked in oil and sprinkled lightly with salt, exactly like potatoes. Because of the decline in production and increasing demand, the price of taro products is skyrocketing. The only taro chips I found on this trip were priced at $8 or so for a small bag. Let's hope they can resolve the problems and restore taro production to a more normal level.

Last for today is this incredible Rainbow Fern. I know a few of you might suspect that I used Photoshop to achieve this coloration but I swear this is an accurate depiction of what I saw that day in Kula.


To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com