A Snail Tale

After five long days of lashing rain, the clouds finally parted and we got a chance to work in the garden today. Some of you will probably think I am crazy for saying that. When I told the cashier at the hardware store that Rochi tends to work too hard, she laughed but then shrugged and said, “I can’t help you with that one.”

Farmer Rochi

Yeah, I’m spoiled. Gardening is back-breaking work, after all, but the garden that came with this house is proving to have been planned and planted by someone with exquisite taste. We are attempting to do it justice.

As we work our way through the weeds and palm fronds, we discover delightful and mysterious plants that we can’t begin to identify, like the Nessie I posted the other day, which turns out to be a variety of agave, and this, which I’m calling the asparagus plant but turns out to be Pedilanthus tithymaloides variagatus, which I can’t pronounce so it will remain asparagus plant. (Don’t worry, I won’t eat it.)

mystery plant 2

I had promised that I would finish weeding and trimming the line of volcanic rock that demarcates the edge of our garden and our neighbor’s hideous chain link fence.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled aside a handful of creeping vine things and discovered that the 2018 Pahoa International Championship Snailathon was underway!

snail rally

Sadly, I did some research and found that Hawaiian garden snails are actually imports from Africa and completely useless, the cockroaches of the gastropod world. They carry diseases and murder banana trees, doing more damage to gardens than Peter Rabbit and all his long-eared friends.

However, like the neon green lizards and the evil looking thorny things that make up our front hedge, I have decided to live and let live unless they start nibbling on my papayas. In that case, I will have to give them a stern talking-to. If that doesn’t work, I’m told they like beer and are stupid enough to drown in it, but the thought of having to deal with a container full of drunken dying slugs is the stuff of nightmares. Let’s call that Plan B.

Earthly Delights

Just outside my front door, there’s a bush that bears white flowers. They are pinwheel shaped and have wavy petals. They smell so sweet, it’s like inhaling love. I think it’s some exotic type of gardenia, but it really ought to have an equally exotic name like Blissifer or Cinderella’s Slipper or Forever Grandma. I’m open to suggestions.
sweet white flowerWe’ve started working on the garden, and are discovering that under the leaves and behind the weeds and hiding among the snail shells and neon green lizards lies a richness and variety of plant life that is hard to describe. Whoever originally conceived this garden and coaxed it into reality had exquisite taste.

garden with pineapple

Yes, that’s a pineapple in the foreground, a purple one. I didn’t know such a thing existed. And I have no clue about what the rest of it is, but the range and nuance of colors and shapes are the makings of dreams, good ones.

mystery plantSome research and assistance from People Who Know About These Things revealed that this monster is an agave attenuata, a cactus basically, but that seems an inadequate description. I was calling it the Puff the Magic Dragon and it didn’t seem to mind.

I have never done yard work like this before but am finding delight in it despite my aching back and unusual bug bites. I am honored and humbled to have inherited this abundance. And this garden is still young. In a couple of years, if we persevere, it could be world class.

In the meantime, there’s this.

Wine glass flower 3Yeah, that’ll do nicely.