Friday | November 24, 2017
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Tropical Gardening: UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Services helps develop Hawaii’s horticultural expertise

Hawaii is unique in its horticultural blend of plants and landscapes. Although we live in the tropics, gardening is heavily influenced by the ways of Europe and the Americas.

This plus Asian, Polynesian and African agricultural influences make landscaping and gardening fun, but a bit complicated.

Fortunately, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has been active in the development of the Master Gardener program in Hawaii County.

If you decide to become a certified Master Gardener, you will have 45 hours of classroom and hands-on horticultural training plus ongoing continuing education. Course topics include basic botany, native plants, nutrition, insect and disease management, propagation, pruning and much more.

Once you finish the course, you will become an expert to assist others to be better gardeners.

To learn more about the program, contact Ty McDonald, UH Extension agent at 322-4884 or by email at

Another opportunity to learn more about tropical gardening, especially palms, is a free program sponsored by the Hawaii Island Palm Society.

Bill Baker of the Royal Botanic at Kew, United Kingdom, will speak at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The meeting will be at the UH-Hilo campus in room UCB 100. Baker will give an illustrated presentation about his recent travels to the jungles of New Guinea.

The program will feature rare palms but also include experiences with birds, butterflies, monkeys, amphibians and reptiles found in the lush tropical forests. Throughout the past 20 years, Baker has discovered 40 new species of palms, including several new genera.

Questions about this event can be emailed to Mary Lock, Hawaii Island Palm Society president, at More information also is available at

The society is offering a free rare palm to folks who attend the event and join the International Palm Society. By supporting the palm society, members are supporting efforts to protect tropical palms and ecosystems that are being threatened around the world. Many of these rare palms are now found in Hawaiian gardens thanks to researchers such as Baker and Floribunda Palm Nursery, which is propagating plants for distribution.

If the palm meeting isn’t enough, you can get acquainted with tropical Vireya rhododendron enthusiasts at the Hawaii Chapter of the Rhododendron Society during their monthly meeting at noon Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Keaau Community Center.

The meeting is a potluck event, so bring your favorite dish. Rene Siracusa will give a hands-on program about flower arranging, and free plants will be given to anyone who becomes a new member.

There also will be a silent auction featuring rare species for your garden.

Call Sherla Bertelmann at 960-9225 for more information.

Learning more about the fantastic variety of plants that make up the island world around us can enrich our lives and keep our minds young and active.


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