Category Archives: gardening

Maui’s Magnificent Climates

Shangri-La is a fictional place described as a mystical, harmonious valley in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton, and has become synonymous with any earthly paradise ~ a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.

Like Shangri La the Hawaiian Islands may be the most isolated archipelago on earth, yet contain all the earth’s terrestrial biomes, except for tundra.

The climate of a region determines what plants will grow, and what animals will inhabit it. All three: climate, plants and animals are interwoven to create the fabric of a biome. A biome is a large geographical area in which life is adapted to that particular environment.

The major terrestrial biomes in the world include: Desert, Tundra, Chaparral or Scrub, Taiga or Coniferous Forest, Temperate Deciduous Forest, Grassland, Temperate Rain Forest, Tropical Rain Forest, Land Caves, and Wetlands.

For such a small area Hawai`i has a wide variety of biomes  due to a variety of factors including topography and locations. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have adapted to the small differences in climate and the environment inside the biome.

Hawai`i’s main biomes are: Coastal, Dry Wood Forest, Mesic Forest,
Rainforest, Desert, Sub-Alpine Grass/Shrubland and Alpine Desert.

The island of Hawai`i are rather dry and were it not for their
large mountains that catch precipitation, these islands would be noticeable
deserts.

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KARESANSUI ~ Rocks Into Water

It is estimated that the typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water above and beyond rainwater each year.     ~U.S. Geological Survey

There are a variety of water-efficient gardening and landscape designs.  One of the oldest is the Japanese rock garden or dry landscape garden, often called a Zen garden, that dates back to the 11th century.  Karesansui suggests mountains and water using only stones, sand or gravel and, occasionally, plants. 

The name translates literally as dry mountain water. Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the term indicates a stone arrangement in a part of the garden without water. A karesansui garden is a living work of art in which the plants and trees are ever-changing with the seasons.

Unlike other traditional gardens, there is no water present in karesansui gardens. Using neither ponds nor streams, it makes symbolic representations of natural landscapes using stone arrangements, white sand, moss and pruned trees. There is gravel or sand, raked or not raked, that symbolizes sea, ocean, rivers or lakes. Water is symbolized both by the arrangements of rock forms to create a dry waterfall and by patterns raked into sand to create a dry stream. Though each garden is different in its composition, they mostly use rock groupings and shrubs to represent a classic scene of mountains, valleys and waterfalls inspired originally from Chinese, and later Japanese, landscape paintings.

These gardens require careful maintenance from those skilled in the art of training and pruning. Part of that art is to keep the garden almost still, like a painting…and like paintings, the gardens are meant to be viewed from a single, seated perspective.

In addition to water conservation in gardens and landscaped areas, karesansui adds artistic and spiritual elements that evoke nature, balance, peace, and serenity.