The most interesting and stressful event for most of us who have farms up here in Kahalu’u lately is the massive visitations of wild pigs. I wish a were a gardener because they roto-till the land to perfection. Except that the places they choose are not great spots for a garden!
I see big families – Mom, Dad, teenagers and tiny babies roaming at all hours through my yard and macadamia orchard, rooting for grubs and eating the nuts on the ground. I’d rather sell those nuts – since that is the entire point of having a macadamia farm, but these pigs don’t seem to understand the economics of why those nuts are laying on the ground.
A giant boar with a curly tail often comes alone right under my bedroom lanai sliding door and enjoys his breakfast at dawn. Part of me feels frustrated at the invasion, and the other part feels fascinated, and slightly repelled, as I spy on him from my secret hiding place – my hog blind.
A family of 13 pigs visited for a Sunday afternoon snacking session. The older males were testy with the teenagers, and snorted and chased them away from the best rooting spots. One big boar… well, how can I say this ……. tried to have non-consensual relations with a lady pig and was immediately rejected. He took it quite well, strolling away with his dignity intact. Or so thought! I’m actually a terrible biologist! I make up stories that are probably all wrong.
Why is landscaping our homes with Hawaii native plants so important?
Did you know that Hawaii is known as the endangered species capital of the world?
It’s a complicated story, one for history books, but here are a few reasons why:
For 200-plus years Hawaii residents have been buying or bringing in non-native plants, animals and insects that have taken over the natural landscape.
Most plants that were here prior to Captain Cook’s arrival were hosts to native bird or insect species. So many native birds and important insects are endangered or extinct is because their food source or host plant is rare or gone.
Biologists call this “loss of habitat” and we residents are largely responsible for this problem.
Want to do one simple thing that will help Hawaii’s plants, insects and birds survive?
Do I hear yes?
Ok then- Plant a few native species in your yard or land.
See the perfect example of native plants in my woodcut print above, “Rainforest Dance.” The Kamehameha butterfly lays it’s eggs on the mamaki plant and the caterpillars then voraciously consume leaves until it’s time to make a cocoon. The only plants that will feed the Kamehameha caterpillar are a few natives in the Urticaceae family. Mamaki is the most common, and is super-easy to grow if you live in a wettish region. Plus, you’ll be able to harvest some for yourself. Mamaki is an important medicinal tea that combats vog symptoms.
Here’s How to Add Natives to Your Land or Yard:
Instead of going to Walmart to buy pretty plants, visit your local native plant nursery.
People who own these nurseries are passionate about their work and will help you get plants that are right for your environment.
Listen Rick Barboza talk about 5 easy to grown native plants in this University of Hawaii video.
Full disclosure- I’m better at creating native species art than I am in growing actual plants. Even so, here is my native species catalog for my farm:
Lots of Kukui trees
3 ‘Ohi’a trees ( I love them!)
Moi – grasslike plant
Ilima – sometimes when it pops up.
Loulu palm- highly endangered
So, off you go!
Amble around your yard or land and notice where you’d like to see color and beautiful shapes. Take some photos and then pay a visit to your nearby native plant nursery and ask for landscaping advice.
Two more ways you can help:
If you love Hawaii, but have a black thumb like me, you can still help by contributing to conservation organizations that directly save many endangered species through reforestation efforts.Check out Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Kona and the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. These are great places to visit and learn more about Hawaii’s natural environment.
You can support Hawaii artists who focus their work around native species. When you purchase our art you are funding the time and energy it requires for us to tell the story of the life of the land. Hawaii artists invest a huge amount of time and resources researching our subjects so we can inspire and educate people. Many of these artists (like yours truly) donate art to conservation organization fundraisers. The health of the ‘aina (land) is our passion! Check out the Hawaii Nei Native Species Art Competition which hosts an art exhibition annually at Wailoa Center. “Rainforest Dance” the original woodcut print above is available through my website: https://andreapro.com/
Kuleana is a Hawaiian value and practice which means responsibility. It speaks to reciprocity and our responsibility to what sustains us. I hope my thoughts have given you all some ideas on how we can all give back to the land we love.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 808-345-0907 and I’m happy to talk with you.
The cycle of renewal and growth in the rainforest depends on the death of its inhabitants.
How else would the earth build healthy soil that supports new life? I expect to see declining and dying trees and plants when I’m hiking. However, dying trees and plants usually are not part of the beauty that touches me so deeply on forest walks. And yet, the hapu’u fern takes the process of dying to a new level by giving us the gift of beautiful sculptures embedded in the earth as it decomposes into rich forest floor humus. First, the hapu’u falls over, and then as it decomposes its underlying textures and the stubs of frond branches create a visual delight that rivals the intentional art of the world’s best sculptors and weavers.
These textures don’t show up until the fern has been dead for quite a while. This giant fern that dominates the rainforest with it’s stately beauty is still making a big statement long after its death. What other ways can you think of in which spectacular beauty shows up in such an unexpected way?
Last night I was standing on my lanai hearing massive amounts of water falling from the sky and landing on the roof, the kukui and rubber trees, and the hard lava earth. A sound we call R A I N. That word RAIN doesn’t really cover the experience. It’s too easy to tell a quick story about RAIN, like “the rain was so loud I had to get off the phone. Our stories about rain reduce it to an inconvenience– “too loud,” “making me wet” “too much for my wimpy windshield wipers”. Or sometimes it’s framed as a resource we need– desperate for rain for our gardens.
What would it be like to just be with rain? Water hitting floppy kukui leaves makes a different sound than water hitting the round stiff leaves of the rubber tree. I noticed that there was something else I was hearing under the landing of water– a steady high-pitched tone. Probably one of those crickety-type of insects that makes amazing noises just by rubbing their rough legs together, which when I think about it, is no more or less amazing than humans making noises by generating sound from thoughts in our brains and movement in our hearts that moves to a specific place in our necks and is amplified out through our mouths.
Sound is a new awareness in my life. I’m so visual. Humans are so visual, generally. I recently came across this quote: “Vision eviscerates all of our other senses”. I often move on a well-traveled highway between my eyes and my brain, and from this short fast trip I construct simple stories about what life is bringing to me. I loved that moment last night when the RAIN became more than a flat story; suddenly I was perceiving multi-layered sound and imagining insects and leaves receiving and shedding wetness. I want more moments like this!
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About Andrea Pro
Andrea Pro’s artwork is a visual talk story invoking the spiritual essence of the land, sea, flora and culture of Hawaii. Her work is widely celebrated for its distinctive nuanced color palette and intricate layers of texture and graphic detail. Carved blocks and a mastery of traditional printmaking techniques lay the powerful foundation for Andrea’s richly textured fine art prints and original handmade textile designs, allowing her to communicate the awe and wonder of the islands she adores.