Gardening Magazine

Orchid Hunting

By Gardenamateur

There's so much about the town of Hilo on the north coast of the big island, Hawaii, that reminds Pam and me of home, although we're not exactly in full agreement about which part of home it reminds us of. Pammy immediately thinks of Darwin, but I'm more inclined to think of coastal country towns in Queensland, but occasionally Broome in WA comes closest. It makes no difference, as we both really like the small-town feel, the laid-back way of life here. The architecture is of houses on stilts, with wide verandahs, louvre windows and shutters, plus tin roofs and rambling overgrown gardens. The foliage is of palms and wide-spreading poincianas. Here, the roadside weeds are purple-flowered tibouchinas and golden ginger lilies in bloom.

One thing that reminded both of us of Darwin was yesterday's visit to the orchid farm that's on the road to the Kilauea volcano. It rained like hell all day yesterday, and so hopefully I'll be able to report in on volcano watching this evening, although we did make it to the volcano, and the rain and clouds lifted several times to allow us some great views.We cut the volcano viewing short when the rain really settled in, and on the road back down to Hilo, not far from the world's youngest and most active volcano is the Akatsuka orchid garden, a completely indoor facility. The range of orchids here was every bit as colourful and wonderful as the lovely orchid farm we visited near Darwin in our holidays a few years back. On with the show.

Orchid huntingThe orchid farm is well up the mountain, where outdoor temperatures can get quite chilly (when it isn't raining lava) and so the covered area is a must.
Orchid huntingI'm not sure of all the names, but this one is a Phalaenopsis.
Orchid huntingSo is this one.
Orchid huntingSorry, could be an ultra-fancy cymbidium, but I'd just be guessing...
Orchid huntingOdontoglossum
Orchid huntingCattleya
Orchid huntingOh dear, not sure about this one either. Thank goodness this isn't a working holiday!
That's just a smattering of what was here. It was a lovely way to spend an hour indoors while it poured with rain outside. If you want to check out the website, go to
Today's weather is a lot better; the skies have lifted, and so we're heading for the hot hills again. The volcano itself is just 29 miles from town, and it's great to see a sign saying "Volcano 29m" in the main street. The forecast max is in the high 80s, scattered showers in the afternoon. One local tried to describe the rain to me as "liquid sunshine". Nice try, but I prefer the dry stuff.

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