Ever Green

By Lois Taylor

Friday, February 26, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima Star-Bulletin
Tristan Fisher checks out a hibiscus plant, above. The ginger
named for her will be released at the plant sale tomorrow.
The one named for her sister, Taylor, (below) won't be
available until summer.

Namesakes a
blooming success

LONG after the Furby has lost its microchip and Barbie has lost her hair, the gifts that Bob Hirano has given his two young granddaughters will be more valuable than ever. Hirano, a hybridizer of gingers and other plants at Lyon Arboretum has named two of his most prized new plants after the girls, Tristan and Taylor Fisher.

"Tristan's Delight," named for 1-year-old Tristan, will be released at the Lyon Arboretum plant sale tomorrow. The ginger named for 2-1/2-year-old Taylor will wait until the summer sale for release. "Tristan's Delight" grows to about 3 feet.

Art The flowers are orange with a dark orange center and peach-colored, butterfly-shaped stamens. The fragrance is spicier than that of white ginger, and the flowers will stay open for about two days. Like most gingers, it flowers in the summer.

"It seemed like a way of getting the girls interested in plants while they are very small," Hirano said. "They can watch the plants grow, so I thought of it as educational." Naming a ginger requires far less formality than naming an orchid. The orchid people, much more hoity-toity than the ginger crowd, insist on registering names of new hybrids on something called "Sander's List," started in 1906 by the Royal Horticultural Society in London. This takes time and paper work.

"To name a ginger, I simply register it here at the arboretum, listing the crosses involved in the hybrid. Once this is recorded, the name is permanent," Hirano said. The plant named for Taylor, because she is bigger than Tristan, has larger flower heads and grows somewhat taller.

Ginger grows wild in damp, low open parts of the forest in Hawaii, and in some areas is a threat to native species.

"Tristan's Delight" is adaptable to most Oahu climates, but grows best in a warm environment with rich, well-drained soil. It needs frequent watering and should be protected from hot, drying winds. "In Hawaii Kai, where the plants get a lot of sun, they will be shorter and more compact than those that grow up here," Hirano said. "They will need to be watered more frequently , preferably in the early morning. The plants at the Lyon sale should flower this summer, and certainly will next year."

Hirano uses a general fertilizer like Miracle-Gro on his gingers, "or whatever," he added -- they take kindly to most feedings. "They are in their inactive growing cycle now, and if you want to build up the plant material they should be fertilized now to bloom in late summer. The bigger the stalks, the bigger in the inflorescence, to a point," he added.

Ginger has few problems, viral or insect. "A black aphid sometimes feeds on the growing tip -- it's big enough to see, so look for it and just rub it off. You don't need sprays," he said.

Ginger is easily propagated by dividing the rhyzomes, the root-like material from which leaves sprout. Dead leaf and flower stalks should be removed after the plant has blossomed. It will take severe pruning after flowering. New foliage grows rapidly.

Tomorrow's plant sale will also include many hard-to-find tropical trees from Frankie's Nursery in Waimanalo. These include the Crystal seedless guava that tastes like a crisp apple, the Hong Kong Pink and the Holmberg with large pink fruit, and potted Rasturi mango trees from Borneo, which will grow in wet areas.

Lei makers will be interested in the Green Rose for haku, and there will be a great selection of orchids, cactus, anthuriums, bromeliads and hibiscus. Bring the kids -- an activity center will provide projects for them while you shop.


Arboretum sale

Bullet What: Lyon Arboretum Association Spring Plant and Craft Sale
Bullet When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. tomorrow.
Bullet Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall
Bullet Cost: Free, but there is a $3 parking fee at the Blaisdell. There will be a free 15 minute loading area for plant pick up.
Bullet Call: 988-0462

Do It Electric!

Gardening Calendar in Do It Electric!

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Evergreen by Lois Taylor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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