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Tag Archives: Hawaii


What adjectives come to mind when describing heliconia?  Dramatic…eye-catching…head-turning…attention-grabbing…this plant screams “Look at me!” and won’t take “No” for an answer.


random bouquet

I came upon this flower “arrangement” in a commercial garden.  I say “arrangement” because I don’t really believe the flowers were arranged, but rather placed somewhat haphazardly into the bucket of water to keep them fresh until they could be packaged and shipped.

And yet, there’s something about the way these flowers are located in relation to each other that I find compelling.  The way the large white blossom takes front and center stage like an unabashed diva.  The way the bold red ginger spears, normally the show-stealers, aren’t as sharply focused and wind up playing a supporting role in the background.  The way the random green stems and leaves add a strong vertical element to the composition.

The unusual down- and back-lighting adds drama…and finally, the way that almost all the foliage continues out of the frame forces you to focus back on the white flower.

This isn’t a typical tropical bouquet, by any stretch of the imagination.

And it definitely does NOT follow the rules of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging that is performed in a meditative manner and results in a minimalist design.  (Practitioners of ikebana, please forgive my gross oversimplification of your art form, which I greatly admire.)

Therefore, it’s the antithesis of ikebana, but no less beautiful, at least to me.

Plant on Pink Steps

Tropical plants have a will of their own.  They have to grow into the sunlight or die, even if they begin life beneath the rain forest canopy…or a flight of wooden stairs!

This plant actually forced its way between the tread and the riser on this set of wooden steps that lead to a gathering hall behind a church.  You can see that some additional leaves are also beginning to poke their way through.

Now that’s what I call determination.

pink ginger

A pink ginger bract is another tropical stunner.  Just as with the heliconia featured in the last two posts, the actual “flower” is a small portion of what non-botanical types consider to be the plant’s bloom.  In the case of the ginger, the true flowers are the tiny white ones that encircle the much larger pink bract.  Deep pink “petals” at the base give way to the palest pink “petals” at the tip.  A study in color gradation, or a pretty “flower,” or both?  Take your pick.

heliconia 2

A heliconia bract–don’t call it a flower–shot against a shady background really stands out!

big green leaves

There are leaves, and then there are these leaves.  The big one is about a yard long.  You’ll have to take my word for it, since there’s nothing in the image to give you a sense of scale.  A three year old child would be about as tall as the largest leaf.  For all I know, there may have been one hiding behind it!

Meet Philadendron gloriosum!


What is the upside of a long and heavy downpour?  Photographically, I can think of at least two:  waterfalls and rainbows.  After a heavy rain, dozens of waterfalls were streaming down the steep volcanic cliffs of Moloka’i.  As the clearing storm clouds cast continually changing shadow patterns on the mountainside, I marveled at the sight.  Within a day or two, most of these waterfalls would disappear.  But for a while, each crevice of basalt was highlighted with a bright white ribbon of water following the path of least resistance.

Grasshopper on Pink Hibiscus

A grasshopper takes a break from eating leaves to look deeply into the heart of this hibiscus.  There were plenty of opportunities to shoot the grasshoppers on the leaves of different plants, but the green-on-green compositions weren’t exciting me.  When it decided to pause on the deep pink flower, however, I was delighted.  I deliberately kept the depth of field very shallow to emphasize the grasshopper, which makes the flower part of the scenery and not the subject.

Yellow Flowers

A wall of bright yellow wildflowers stopped me in my tracks.  Even the seed pods were dramatic!  Granted, yellow is a cheerful color in and of itself, but on the flowers of this plant which appeared to be growing and blooming with nothing short of wild abandon…wow!

I was smitten!

storm clouds over Moloka'i

Storms clouds gather over the north shore of Moloka’i just before sunset.  We were lucky to make it out on several miles of dirt road before rain began to fall.  Those of you who have driven on the red island mud during or after a heavy rain know what I’m talking about.  Even having a 4WD is no guarantee of traction.

It made our darkly dramatic sunset all the more special.