Field Guide: Gardening in Hawaii

Green thumbs can enjoy Mother Earth by hiking through the Lyon Arboretum, growing an orchid, repotting plants and more.

Sharon’s Plants

Photo: Scott Kubo

1. Sharon’s Plants

You’re sure to find the tree or plant you’re looking for at Sharon’s Plants, a 20-acre nursery at the foot of the Koolau Mountains. “We have a lot of stuff,” laughs current owner, Robin Peterson, Sharon’s daughter. The nursery features bamboo, palms, plumeria trees, orchids, ferns, grasses, water lilies and much more. “We have a good heleconia selection, too,” says Peterson. Peterson and her staff offer tours of the nursery and provide customers with recommendations to fill their needs, such as helping homeowners select trees to block out their neighbors and create more privacy. Sharon’s Plants also offers free delivery statewide, with a minimum purchase. 41-614 Waikupanaha St., 259-7137,


Photo: Scott Kubo

2. Windward Orchid Society

Dorothy Sakamoto, the director of the Windward Orchid Society, wanted to educate the public about orchid culture. So, two years ago, she started hosting orchid growing workshops out of her house in Kaneohe. “It’s a great time for people to get to know one another,” she says. “A lot of the master growers help the beginners.” The monthly workshops are just one part of the society’s work. Sakamoto says the group holds an annual orchid show in March and biannual silent auctions—the second takes place this month—featuring 500 different orchid varieties. For $20 a year you can become a society member, which includes nursery visits and monthly meetings at which members receive a free orchid.


Photo: Scott Kubo

3. Lyon Arboretum

The UH-owned Lyon Arboretum comprises more than 5,000 plant species and sits on almost 200 acres atop the Manoa Watershed. The arboretum is part tropical botanical garden, part research and conservation facility. Visitors can admire the arboretum’s water garden with its inviting Chinese pagoda, a spice garden, a palm garden and an ethnobotanical garden. “This features plants important to Native Hawaiian culture, even today,” says director Christopher Dunn. For the more adventurous, there are several hiking trails, including one that leads to the ‘Aihualama Waterfall. The arboretum also holds classes and workshops on Hawaiian flora, cooking and conservation. “The arboretum has the premier plant conservation programs in the state,” adds Dunn. 3860 Mānoa Road, 988-0456,



Photo: Scott Kubo

4. Geobunga

The owners of Bella Pietra, a local stone and tile company, have taken on a new venture in the form of pottery, water features, paving stones and bamboo. Geobunga is an outdoor pottery paradise. In a large parking lot across from Target in Salt Lake, owner Andrew Dedrick and his staff store hundreds of pots, from small ones to 6-foot tall ones, in every color of the rainbow. “The pots come from Vietnam and China, and are handmade,” says Dedrick. They range in price from $8 to $450 and can be used as traditional pots for plants, or made into water features. Geobunga also sells specialized water features that come with mosquito-eating guppies and water lilies, poppies or lotuses. “There’s a lot of possibilities with these,” he says.  Dedrick also hosts monthly workshops; this month’s will demonstrate how to install sand-set paving stones. 4299 Lawehana St., 422-4567,


Photo: Scott Kubo


Whether you’re a DIYer or don’t know where to begin, Kevin Mulkern can help. He started Mulkern Landscaping in 1975 and works with homeowners—and also businesses—in designing, implementing and maintaining landscape projects. “I’m a little bit of a tree hugger,” he says. “I enjoy planting a seed and watching it grow.” He and his wife, Susan, have a nursery in Waimanalo. Be sure to visit Mulkern’s website for November’s landscaping tip-of-the-month. 396-6595,