Hawaii, Trees

Tangled Web

From the Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu, Hawaii.


My Gardens

Passion Flowers

My passion flower vine is finally blooming, and its even loviler than I would have expected.

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For those in my own religious tradition, Christianity, the Passion Flower is a potent symbol:

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion:

* The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
* The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
* The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
* The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
* The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
* The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
* The blue and white colours of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.

quoted from the blog “The Sign of the Cross


Passion Flower Symbolism


In addition, me and the kids have made a discovery, the existence of a whole army of “Gulf fritillary ” caterpillars.  Apparently these little orange and purple beauties only feed on Passion Flowers.  I’ve never seen them before and it was a nice surprise to have them show up on our vine.

The image to the left is of one that we caught and were surprised by it having turned into a cocoon by the next day.  It will be fun to watch it emerge as a butterfly.  We’ve found quite a bit more on the vines, so the butterfly population should be booming soon.

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My Gardens

Gardening in a Texas Summer

My Vitex Tree

For those of us who Garden in the great land of Texas, this time of the year (mid-July and August) can be perhaps the most challenging.  Rain is sparse, the heat is ever-present and there isn’t really much of a respite.

Thankfully, there are plants that are either native or that have been transplanted into our area that seem to thrive.

Buds of the Vitex Tree

First up in the Vitex bush (in this case, I’m forming mine into a tree). It is a native of China an India (also long grown in the eastern Mediterranean regions) and gained the name of “Chaste Tree” or “Monk’s Pepper” from the belief that drinking a tea made from the small black seeds could help cut into a monk’s libido, thus helping the Brothers to maintain their vows of chastity.  It can still be used for a variety of ailments, including menstrual cycle regulation, interestingly enough.

Texas Sage

Another favorite of mine is another bush with purple flowers, the Texas Sage bush, a spectacular Texas native.  Mine tend to bloom 3-4 times a summer, usually with all the other Texas Sage bushes in the area.  When a really heavy bloom hits my backyard becomes a big beehive, with the bushes simply covered with the little buggers.

Native Grasses and Wildflowers

Last Autumn I experimented with sowing wildflower seeds in late October and letting them grow wild along a new bed of native grasses and lantanas I’m growing out by the curb and I wasn’t disappointed.  At the beginning of the spring we had small pink wild phloxes and then we got a nice carpet of blue Bachelor Buttons and now we’ve moved into the yellows and reds of daisys and Indian Blankets.  It’s been fun to watch.

Pistache Tree

One of the favorite things about our house when we bought it was the large Chinese Pistache tree out front. It’s has proven to remain one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood. It’s drought tolerant, heat tolerant, bug tolerant and consistently provides the best fall foliage of any tree I’ve seen in Texas. It’s not native to the area, but like many plants that transplant well here, its from China. The only negatives I’ve seen is that it takes longer than most to leaf-out, and its prone to branching out fairly low to the ground, causing splitting in high winds (I had to have mine stitched back together after a particularly nasty Texas storm a couple of summers ago).


Finally, I planted this Passion Flower vine last summer from a cutting provided to me from a classmate. It’s really taken off this year and is close to blooming! I can’t wait to see which blooms I get.

Passion Flower Vines

Easter Sonnet

Within the blackness of the night His body lies at rest
Alone within His catacomb, amidst the quiet chill
His skin is pale and bled of life, no air’s within His chest
He lies in state, forsook by God, within the lonely hill
She weeps within the waning night, alone before the morn
When death is at its blackest tide and hope’s forever lost
But when the pitch is at its peak the dawn is at its bourn
And when despair is at its end there’s light to melt the frost
A ray is cast upon the tomb; the stone is split and rolled
And death is turned upon its head, defeated by the Cross
The Lion stands within His How and strides upon His Wold
Victorious in life and death, in laughter, pain, and loss
He comes to save His enemies with grace and love and death
In love He’s raised in human blood, in human life and breath

Blank Verse

The Dusk of Night

I find myself within the dusk of night
Where ghouls and shadows flit around my head
Spitting words of hopeless paths and tired treads
Pressing under me, the weight of darkness’ might
In the midst of shadowed storms I seek the light
Trying to remember words of hope I’ve heard and read
Holding onto sanity by naught but tiny threads
Beat and bruised and cast beyond the realm of fight
In this pitied state I seek the light of Jesus’ hope
I cling unto the splintered Cross, I’m washed by perfect blood
I feel as one who’s lost to die, but sought by He who hung
And as the light shines down upon my bloody face, I grope
I seek the One who saves and keeps with perfect love
For I have no one else to seek and no one else to run