Tropical Gardening: Resolve to develop your horticultural expertise as a Master Gardener

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New Years Resolutions are fun to make every year, but sometimes it’s hard to measure their success.

Learning landscaping and gardening is a good example.

Hawaii is unique in its horticultural mix of plants and landscapes. Although we live in the tropics, gardening is heavily influenced by the habits of Europe and the Americas. These Asian, Polynesian, and African agricultural influences make landscaping and gardening fun, but a little complicated.

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

If you decide to get involved in the program, you will have 45 hours of in-class and hands-on horticultural training, as well as continuing education. Course topics include basic botany, native plants, nutrition, insect and disease management, propagation, pruning, and more.

Upon completion of the course, you will become a local expert in helping others become better gardeners. The master gardeners also organize several outings each year and get involved in community landscape projects.

On January 7, the Kona group will visit the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary in Kaloko Mauka, where they will plant native hibiscus.

The Sanctuary is a 70-acre forest dedicated to teaching a forest-friendly lifestyle and reminding people that our forests are the lungs of the planet. Most of the land is native forest, but 15 acres that were originally pastures are now fully reforested with a variety of plants and trees donated by plant societies and the Hawaii Department of Wildlife and Forestry . After the aggressive kikuyu grass was suppressed by shade, many native plants began to recover.

Hawaii Island Land Trust cooperates in the preservation of the sanctuary forest. For more information on the trust, contact Kawika K. Burgess at 791-0729.

To learn more about the program in West Hawaii, contact Ty McDonald, UH Outreach Officer, at 322-4893 or email [email protected] In Eastern Hawaii, call UH Extension Agent Eli Islele at 969-8209 or email [email protected]

Other opportunities to learn and apply your horticultural knowledge include membership in a plant society such as the Hawaii Island Palm Society, the Hawaii section of the American Rhododendron Society, or one of the many orchid societies. We also have companies and associations focused on coffee, tea, nuts and tropical fruits.

Information on how to contact us is available online or by contacting the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources offices in Hilo and Kona.

Connecting with local plant enthusiasts is a great way to expand your knowledge with other members of our island community and make new friends.


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