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How I spent my summer vacation – a Virginia landscape designer’s week in Hawaii

2013 was another amazing year, but as a small company that translated into lots and lots of long days. This is the time of year that a lot of folks in the landscape industry start getting cranky because they need a day off, and I was no exception (sorry, MJ!). MJ had a conference in Waikiki Beach so we rolled it into a much-needed vacation. Naturally I spent a fair bit of time ogling the local flora.


When you talk about foliage color, good luck beating these colors.

I also dragged MJ to the Waimea Arboretum and Botanical gardens, where I ooh’d and ahh’d the whole way. You have to love huge, dinosaur park foliage.


One of my favorite photos is of these trees. The shapes the branches create are just amazing.


All paths in this park point to one thing: the waterfall at the end. Had I been thinking I would have had us show up wearing swimsuits, since you can actually swim under the falls. Alas, I wasn’t, but it was still worth the walk.


I have a gigantic soft spot for Japanese gardens and when I heard that there was a cemetery on the eastern side of the island that featured a Buddhist temple – we had to go. It was, in a word, stunning. Oahu was this gorgeous jewel of an island where you can’t help but think “I want to move here.”


Big Island is different. MJ and I both considered it a tropical version of the Maine coast, a rugged land that seems to say (at least to me), “boy, you do NOT have what it takes to survive here.” What made me fall in love with the island is the way Nature is proving that it always finds a way, and there was life in the harshest places.


Even farther down the road to the coast, we parked the car and walked down the road that was closed by the lava flow a decade ago. The lava has since stopped flowing, but the park service recognizes when it won’t win a battle with Nature. In the midst of trekking across this hot, craggy, lifeless surface, I saw this:


Is that amazing or what? Seeing life rocking out in such an unexpected place made me really happy.

This trip included plants, water (I even went snorkeling for the first time), and fire. It was a fabulous trip and just what I needed to recharge my batteries in advance of the fall rush. I’m very excited to be back.

Oh, and if you’re unsure what you meant by “fire”? How’s a volcano for a cool nighttime view?



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