Blossom time in paradise again…

Two varieties of ornamental cherry trees are available for planting on the Big Island: Pink Cloud and Okame. Both are low-chill varieties, meaning there is a possibility they will succeed at elevations lower than Volcano or Kamuela.

photo by Kenji Kuroshima used with permission This Pink Cloud ornamental cherry tree, a low-chill variety hybridized at the Huntington in Pasadena more than 40 years ago, bloomed lightly in its second year in Hilo.

photo by Kenji Kuroshima used with permission
This Pink Cloud ornamental cherry tree, a low-chill variety hybridized at the Huntington in Pasadena more than 40 years ago, bloomed lightly in its second year in Hilo.

Okame ornamental cherry trees burst into bloom in Panaewa just outside Hilo at Mountain Meadows Nursery.  photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger

Okame ornamental cherry trees burst into bloom in Panaewa just outside Hilo at Mountain Meadows Nursery.
photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger

The two varieties were chosen for their pale pink blossoming habit in addition to the low-chill variety. These trees have been successful in Pasadena, Los Angeles and San Diego.

For further information on availability on Hawaii Island, contact K.T. Cannon-Eger or Mountain Meadows Nursery in Panaewa.

If you wish availability in the mainland United States, please contact L. E. Cooke Nursery (wholesale nursery orders only) or your local garden shop.

Local sales of Okame and Pink Cloud benefit the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working toward the centennial of Hilo’s Lili`uokalani Gardens in 2017.

Here is a link to an article on cherry tree history in Washington, DC, posted by the North American Japanese Garden Association.


Categories: Hawaii, Hilo | Tags: , | Leave a comment

2014 in review by Helper Monkeys

pau hana

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Volunteers invited to help clean Lili`uokalani Gardens

The sixth volunteer garden help day at Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai`i is scheduled for Friday, December 19, from 8 a.m. until noon.

“Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens, East Hawai`i Master Gardeners Association, Moku Aina, Moku Loa Chapter Sierra Club, UH-Hilo exchange students, Urasenke Hilo, and Fukushima Kenjin-kai are among groups who have participated this year in helping our County at this jewel of a park,” said garden enthusiast K.T. Cannon-Eger.

“Through donations to Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens (a 501-c-3 charitable organization), we are able to provide water, trash bags, and gloves to volunteers. Please bring your favorite tool and join in the fun.”

For further information, contact Cannon-Eger at (808) 895-8130.

… and now for something related … a video and news report from NHK on the conference held by the North American Japanese Garden Association in Chicago in mid-October. Please click on the link.


Chicago Botanic Garden features chrysanthemum displays in the fall at the Japanese garden.

Categories: Chicago, Hawaii, Hilo, Illinois | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Stones at UC-Berkeley Japanese pond date back to 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island

Treasure Island 1939

Placement of the stones in the Japanese garden at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island was designed by Kaneji Domoto, who later oversaw moving the stones to UC Berkeley for the Japanese pond in the botanic garden.
(Photo reproduced courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, donated by Francis and Gloria Massimo) The Exposition was held in 1939, the same year Domoto worked on another garden in New York for an exposition there.

[the following quoted information on Kaneji Domoto is excerpted from the Taliesin Fellows newsletter #12 July 15, 2003]

Kaneji (known as Kan) Domoto was born on November 5, 1913 in Oakland California, the eighth of eleven children. At the family nursery in Hayward, he learned to propagate camellias and peonies for which his nurseryman father had become famous.

“Domoto attended Stanford University studying science and physics, and played on the soccer team. He also studied landscape architecture at the University of California in Berkeley.

“He apprenticed at Taliesin in 1939 and began his career as architect and landscape architect in California. He came east to assist in the creation of the Japanese exhibit for the New York World’s Fair following work for the San Francisco Treasure Island Fair.”

With the advent of World War II, Domoto was interned with his wife, Sally Fujii, at Granada War Relocation Center [also known as Camp Amache] Colorado. At the end of the war, they moved to New Rochelle, NY with their children, Mikiko and Anyo. Later two more children, Katherine and Kristine, were born in New Rochelle, NY, where he made his home for many years. Domoto died January 27, 2002.

“Domoto had a long and productive career in architecture and landscape design. He designed several homes at the famous Frank Lloyd Wright Usonia homes development at Pleasantville, NY. He designed landscapes for residential and commercial projects, mainly in Westchester County but also in surrounding northeastern states. He became noted for his use of huge stones and rocks in his well-known Japanese-American gardens at the New York World’s Fair Japanese Exhibit, in Berkeley, California, Jackson Park, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

“His career produced more than 700 projects, and Domoto received many awards for his work, including the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his Jackson Park design. He donated many hours to local and national civic associations throughout his career.

“His wife, Sally, died in 1978, and his second wife, Sylvia Schur, survives him [at the time this was written in 2003]. He leaves 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter, 2 sisters, and a number of nieces and nephews.”

The Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island celebrated the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay (Bay Bridge) Bridge in 1936, as well as the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.

Domoto also published a book on bonsai. His brother Toichi Domoto remained in California with the nursery business and is featured in oral histories in the UC-Berkeley collection on the growth of the California landscape industry.

The area of the Japanese pond in the botanic garden on campus is known as Strawberry Creek. According to director Paul Licht, the area was a dairy before becoming a pond.

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Work on the Japanese garden began in November 1941. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the stones and lantern were moved to a warehouse for safekeeping and the garden was not completed until after the war ended.

Elaine Sedlack shows the gate

Elaine Sedlack shows the donated gate at the UC-Berkeley pathway to the Japanese pond. Sedlack laid the pathway stones that go through the gate built by Paul Biscoe. Retaining wall stone masonry was by Shigeru Namba.

Curator Elaine Sedlack has gardened since 1969 and has been with the Asian collection since 1984. She is active in international plant societies including maples and rhododendrons. Sedlack noted that a flood in 1965 brought a lot of mud down the slope and that the lantern was damaged at that time.

Over the years, many improvements and additions have been made. Shigeru Namba, a stone mason from Osaka living in California, built retaining walls around the gate built by woodworker Paul Biscoe. Namba, his wife Sakiko and their two year old daughter drove in from Woodside to set a lantern obtained in Japan by landscape architect Ron Herman.

The gate and the lantern honor the involvement of two stalwarts of Berkeley’s Japanese-American community: artist Chiura Obata and ikebana teacher Haruko Obata, his wife.


a dedication plaque inside the gate honors two long-time garden activists
(photo by Bill F. Eger)


The lantern is dedicated to Haruko Obata for her contributions to the art of flower arranging. As early as the 1915 exposition in San Francisco, her work was important enough to warrant an entire room for display.

“To my thinking there is no great art without Nature.” Chiura Obata (1885-1975)

Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was born in Japan and came to California in 1903. A master in the traditional Japanese sumi ink and brush technique, he also excelled in art education and taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1932 until 1954, except for the years of internment. Many works were published in the book Obata’s Yosemite (Yosemite Association, 1993).

In 1932, Obata began his teaching career at the University of California. For watercolor painting, he gave his students the traditional Japanese materials: the brush, ink of pine soot, colors from vegetable and mineral pigments, and silk and paper as media. In 1938, Time magazine called Obata “one of the most accomplished artists in the West.” Known for defining the nihonga style of painting—a technique that blends Japanese traditional ink painting with Western methods—Obata influenced a generation of artists who were part of the California Watercolor Movement in the 1920s and ’30s.

His popular classes were interrupted by evacuation first to Tanforan and then to Topaz internment camp in Utah in 1942. Even under these conditions, Obata painted prolifically and organized art schools in the camps with as many as 650 students from the internees.

His granddaughter Kimi Kodani Hill notes, “His experience of knowing nature consoled and inspired him,” Hill says. “He always told his students at the camp ‘don’t just look at the dust on the ground, look beyond.’” Hill is editor of Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment, with an introduction by Timothy Anglin Burgard and foreword by Ruth Asawa.


Smithsonian exhibit, A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution: “All the families did some gardening about their dwellings in order to beautify them. Everything had to be brought in from the mountains, rocks, trees and shrubs.” Chiura Obata about the garden outside the family quarters at Topaz; illustration used with permission from the family.

He returned to the University of California in 1945 and resumed his faculty position. Former University President Gordon Sproul and several students had kept many artworks safe during the war and returned them to Obata. He traveled extensively as he lectured, sketched, painted, and gave one-man exhibitions at major galleries and museums.

In 1965, Obata received the Kungoto Zuihosho Medal, an Imperial honor and accolade, for promoting goodwill and understanding between the United States and Japan.

From 1954 to 1972 Obata was a tour director, taking Americans on regular visits to renowned gardens, temples, and art treasures in Japan. Students continued to gather at his Berkeley home on Ellsworth Avenue to study painting.

Their studio on Telegraph Avenue was voted a landmark in 2009 by the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“As most of us in California know, the need for uncovering Japanese-American history—the reason it is hidden in our communities—is that the U.S. government made a heinous error in the anxious time at the onset of World War II,” social historian Donna Graves told The Berkeley Daily Planet. Graves nominated the Obata Studio for landmark status, “Federal policy dictated that people of Japanese descent, whether they were American citizens or not, were forced to leave their communities, homes, and businesses in the spring of 1942 and incarcerated in remote concentration camps behind barbed wire and under armed guard. This act, which was not perpetrated on people of German or Italian descent, irreparably harmed communities that Japanese-Americans had built in cities like Berkeley and across California. This is a story we Americans must remember, and it is part of what inspired the landmark application.”

Graves heads Preserving California’s Japantowns, a statewide survey of pre-World War II Japanese-American historic resources. Funded by the California State Libraries, the project has identified hundreds of locations in nearly 50 cities from San Diego to Marysville.

For more information on the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, to plan a visit there, or to find out about classes and plant sales, visit the web site

To see any photo in this article full size, click on the image. Unless otherwise noted in captions, photos are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Please be nice and do not copy without permission and attribution.

Comments are welcome. All comments will be read and approved before they appear.



Categories: Berkeley, California | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ventura California Master Gardeners join the fun at Lili`uokalani Gardens

The fifth monthly volunteer work day will be held at Lili`uokalani Gardens tomorrow (Saturday, September 27) from 8 a.m. to noon.

Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens and East Hawai`i Master Gardeners will be joined by 21 Master Gardeners from Ventura, California, here touring agriculture related sites on Hawai`i Island and desirous of providing some community service.

Ten members of the Fukushima Kenjin-kai also are slated to participate in the four-hour clean up at Hilo’s historic Japanese garden.

For more information, contact Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens president Bill Eger, 969-1234.

photo by Bill Eger

photo by Bill Eger

Categories: Hawaii, Hilo | Tags: | Leave a comment

more news about NAJGA in Chicago in October

This link posted above is to a North American Japanese Garden Association newsletter, which has more news about the up and coming international conference in Chicago in mid-October.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a wonderful host. Specialized workshops and tours will be held pre- and post-convention in the Chicago and Rockford area.

For more information, contact the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) at, tel (503) 222 1194. On-site and one-day registrations are also available.

north end of Osaka Garden

The Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition is now the Museum of Science and Industry. This view is from Garden of the Phoenix, the site of a 2014 pre-convention workshop on moss.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

bridge with seasonal floral display

Chicago Botanic Garden: the entry bridge between the Visitor Center and the Crescent Garden in fall

a cool woodland

a cool woodland with azalea hillside (photo by Bill F. Eger)

Categories: Chicago, Glencoe, Illinois, Rockford | Tags: , | Leave a comment

NAJGA Conference in Chicago in October

This video previews one of Dr. David Slawson’s talking points for his forthcoming skills development workshop happening as part of the 2014 NAJGA biennial conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden this October 16-18:

Go to the NAJGA web site for more information on the conference, speakers, workshops, hands-on training sessions, and tours.
NAJGA Conference 2014

Categories: Chicago, Glencoe, Illinois | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Follow-up to cleanup and advance on Festival

The fourth volunteer day at Lili`uokalani Gardens held Saturday, August 16, concentrated on storm cleanup following Hurricane Iselle. Many of our regulars were busy with their own homes or were volunteering in Puna, the district of Hawai`i island hit hardest by the storm.

But we had nine eager folks who filled 20 large bags with downed leaves and sticks in no time. We also worked on removing one large snapped limb from an orchid tree near the restrooms. Some of it still remained in the tree at the end of our time — beyond our reach.

pau hana 1

Michelle, Hiroko, Sami, K.T., Jennifer and Craig (not pictured: Diane, Ann, Bill)
photo by Bill Eger


pau hana 2

Michelle, Hiroko, Sami, K.T., Jennifer and Craig are a little goofy at the end of the work day.

Additional effort went into continuing to edge the spring-fed pond and removal of seaweed from the pond near the stone arched bridge.

This helped County workers get the park ready for both the Firefighters annual walk and run held Saturday, August 23, and the upcoming Queen’s birthday.

Weeding and leaf removal was done on two areas central to the annual Queen Lili`uokalani Festival — He Halia Aloha — which is scheduled for Saturday, September 6, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

2014 poster

He Hali`a Aloha No Lili`uokalani Festival — an annual celebration in honor of the Queen’s birthday — will be held Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sponsored by the County of Hawai`i, the Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Center and the Hawai`i Tropical Flower Council, the all day free event will feature cultural activities and demonstrations, craft booths, mass hula surrounding the ponds, taiko drumming, Urasenke tea ceremonies, and plenty of local entertainment.

For more information on the festival, contact the Hawai`i County Culture and Education Office at 961-8706.


Categories: Hawaii, Hilo | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hurricane Iselle and Lili`uokalani Gardens

high water in ponds

Storm surge from August 7 & 8 Hurricane Iselle combined with high tide resulting in very high water levels in the ponds of Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo.
photo by Philippe Francois Nault


Thank you all the far flung friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens. Yes, Hurricane Iselle came to the gardens, but lightly compared to the more eastern and southerly regions of the island.

No major trees went down. No big limbs fell.

Storm surge did combine with high tides, resulting in extremely high water in the ponds. The concrete zig-zag walkway to the red bridge was completely covered.

Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens planned last month to hold our regular monthly clean up day on Saturday, August 16. That is still on. There is storm tossed debris to rake up, weeds to be pulled, bushes to be trimmed, seaweed to be mucked out, and gravel to spread on a path by the tea house.

If you can help, please come from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, August 16.


Categories: Hawaii, Hilo | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Third work day helps prepare for two events

Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens gathered with members of Moku `Aina, the East Hawaii Master Gardeners Association, and Moku Loa Sierra Club for gardening chores to prepare Shoroan, the Urasenke tea house, for a visit of the retired Grand Master Dr. Genshitso Sen and to clean around the stone lantern from Fukushima for the annual tanabata festival.

leaf rakers

Six large trash bags were filled with ironwood needles removed from the lawn and lava around the lantern from Fukushima prefecture

Tanabata or the Star Festival is a time of wishing for good things and peace, according to Walter Tachibana of Fukushima-Ken. Strings of colorful paper cranes are hung on bamboo branches placed beside the ishi-doro (stone lantern) from Fukushima. Traditionally the festival is held on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

By the end of this recent work session, 17 trash bags were filled with green waste and trash from four different project areas.

The area to which the most attention was paid during the past three months was the Urasenke tea house, Shoroan. A total of 28 volunteers worked 112 hours in the tea house garden to help prepare for the visit of Dr. Genshitsu Sen, retired XV Grand Master of Urasenke, on July 22.

Shoroan July 2014

Before the third work day, a few wild hairs on the bushes indicate the need for a light trimming
photo by Bill Eger

day three

By the end of the work day, all the bushes were trimmed and all the weeds on the paths were pulled


Dr. Genshitsu Sen, retired XV Grand Master of Urasenke, enjoys a bowl of tea with Russ Oda, Rev. Jeffrey Soga, Art Taniguchi and Hiroshi Suga in Shoroan

Dr. Sen congratulates Philippe Nault on four otemae (the artful performance of tea ceremony) outdoors in Lili`uokalani Gardens

Dr. Sen congratulates Kumiko Sugawara and Philippe Nault on four otemae (the artful performance of tea ceremony) outdoors in Lili`uokalani Gardens

The next volunteer day is scheduled for Saturday, August 16, from 8 a.m. to noon. The focus of the next chore list will be preparing for the annual Queen Lili`uokalani Festival held in early September.

To volunteer, please contact K.T. Cannon-Eger at 895-8130.

Volunteers gather to discuss the day's projects at 8 a.m. photo by Bill Eger

Volunteers gather to discuss the day’s projects at 8 a.m.
photo by Bill Eger

Additional projects worked on so far include pruning of small trees; fertilizing azalea and camellia throughout the park; beginning removal of weeds from the edges of the ponds; replacement of a dislodged stone in the stepping stone path that goes through the water; repainting of parking lot lines; removal of invasive pest species from the roofs of several shelters and from the arched stone bridge. In all, including the tea house projects, 54 volunteers put in a total of 216 hours in the first three work days at Lili`uokalani Gardens.

Donations of nearly $550 in plants, materials and tools were received from Home Mart-Keaau Ace Hardware, Mountain Meadows Nursery, Rozett’s Nursery, and members of Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens. The tools were added to the County park’s tool shed for use in Lili`uokalani Gardens.

pond wide view

The cultural landscape of Lili`uokalani Gardens is nearly 100 years old. Plans are in the works for centennial celebrations in 2017
photo by Bill Eger

Categories: Hawaii, Hilo | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Blog at The Adventure Journal Theme.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers