Friday, September 16, 2016

Harold L. Lyon Arboretum - University of Hawaii at Manoa

American Public Gardens Association board members touring the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum

I recently visited Hawaii for a board meeting of the American Public Gardens Association. Our quarterly meeting move around the country and I was very excited that this one took me over the Pacific. Hawaii is of course paradise, but I was also eager to attend the IUCN Wold Conservation Congress. This event is held every 4 years and is a gathering of wold leaders, scientists, non-profit organizations and many others. These great brains get together to discuss current research, policy, and forecasts for the state of the environment. I was only able to attend 2 days of this inspiring conference that lasts 2 weeks and had over 9,000 registrants.

Topical Rhododendron at the Lyon Arboretum
Pinecone Ginger

One of the great things about attending a meeting with other garden lovers is that we all are excited to visit other gardens. During our board meeting, we visited the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Large ficus tree with a very cool buttress roots at the Lyon Arboretum
Bromeliad collection at the Lyon Arboretum

The mission of the Arboretum is "To increase the appreciation of the unique flora of Hawai`i and the tropics, by conserving, curating, and studying plants and their habitats; providing inclusive educational opportunities; encouraging use by the broader community; and supporting the educational, scientific, and service activities of the University of Hawai`i."

Rose of Siam Ginger (Etlingera corneri)

Located on the island of Oahu, in a tropical rainforest with an average of 13 feet of rainfall per year, the Lyon Arboretum is 124 acres of palms, heliconias, gingers, ethnobotanical and native Hawaiian plants, rhododendron, gingers, calathea, hibiscus, and alocasia. It was truly a topical paradise!

After I took this photo of this very cool flower, the Arboretum director told me it was an invasive weed!

In addition a gorgeous aesthetic display, the Arboretum conducts micropropagation of rare & endangered Hawaiian plants, native forest restoration, and its Hawai`i Rare Plant Program has put it on the map as a leader in the field of plant conservation.

These are some of the many, many gingers!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tomatillo Salsa

I've always been slightly afraid of using tomatillos. I like the tangy taste that they give to Mexican food, but I wasn't quite sure how to use them and what was up with that papery covering. Tomatillos are related to tomatoes. They are usually used raw in things like salsa, but they can also be cooked in stews.
In the process of peeling the papery husk off of the tomatillos
I decided that it was time to give this new fruit a try, so I went to the grocery store and stared at them for a while. I had no idea how to choose a good tomatillo, so I started peeling back the papery husks to check the fruit beneath. I found that this was a very good idea because sometimes bad spots were hiding underneath. I picked through the pile and assembled a pound of good looking tomatillos. After figuring out which tomatillos were the right ones to buy, the rest was fairly easy! I made this recipe for a potluck and everyone went crazy over it! Serve with tortilla chips.

Tomatillo Salsa

1 lb of fresh tomatillos (about 12) or 1 can (13oz) of canned tomatillos
1/2 cu finely chopped red onion
1/4 cu coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 can (4 oz) of diced green chilies
fresh juice from 1/2 of a lime
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

To prepare fresh tomatillos, the papery husk needs to be removed and the fruit should be washed before finely chopping them (the small round seeds don't need to be removed). Then mix the chopped tomatillos with the chopped red onion, cilantro, chilies, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. I used canned fire roasted diced green chilies because I like the flavor and I like my food a little spicy, but fresh jalapenos can be used if you prefer that flavor, or peppers can be left out all together if you aren't a fan of spicy food. Cover and refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour to lets the flavors meld.

Tomatillos, red onion, cilantro, and green chilies
All mixed up with olive oil and salt

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