Story by Shantel Grace
Photos by Elyse Butler
“We’re teaching people a holistic approach to gardening,” says community relations specialist Diane Moses. Avid gardeners from O‘ahu’s dry zones (think Hawai‘i Kai and Wai‘anae) have come for inspiration for decades, and every summer thousands show up for the garden’s huge one-day Unthirsty Plant Sale.
“We estimate that 50 percent of the water consumed in Island households is used outdoors,” says Moses, “so less-thirsty plant options are one way to minimize water waste.” She points to further innovations on which the gardeners are focusing: “We’re working on a sustainable trellis where people can learn about rain barrels, and we’re adding an all-encompassing succulent section where people can learn about the benefits of ‘microclimating,’ which encourages beneficial insects and wildlife.”
The xeriscape garden can be found in ‘Aiea’s Halawa Valley Central Park Industrial Area, and it’s open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. As visitors leave it they pass a raft of bromeliads colored with dramatically varied fluorescent hues, as well as the lovely Kalanchoe, with its red and green leaves —both of which offer final evidence that saving water doesn’t mean skimping on beauty.