During our holiday on Hawai’i Island, seeing hibiscus in context has really improved my attitude towards tropical plants. I think I confuse them with frangipani flowers, whose dubious reputation stems from car stickers which tarnish all flowers’ “particular style of beauty” (this phrase used with thanks to author Zenda Vecchio, who uses it to describe clothes or accessories not suiting someone’s particular style of beauty).
A few years ago the infestation of adhesive frangipani gave rise to the responding trend: “Frangipani stickers: Australia says no.”
We visited the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens showroom (Volcano, Hawaii). It would be a lovely project to make a scented maze with all their plants, but I have a weird feeling that keeping flowers inside seems like a plant version of veal calves.
My favourite orchid was Onc. Sharry Baby “Sweet Fragrance”. It has a wafting chocolate fragrance, it would be fun if it came with piped music like The Four Seasons’ Sherry playing on a loop, out where the bright moon shines. I have absolute immunity to that song because I used to hear it ten times a day when I worked as a seamstress undergoing aural torture. I have similar experience with Mariah Carey’s Christmas album.
A wistful plant I’ve learnt about is the Naupaka, which grows on the coast and in the mountains. Both types appear as a half flower, but you can put two together to make a whole – an opposite of the floral rhyme: loves me, loves me not.
There are different stories around the two types of the flower, one is that two lovers were forcibly separated and went to these different parts of the landscape. They either distributed the flowers in their respective areas, or the flowers bloomed from each person’s sadness. Putting the flowers together reunites the lovers, McDonald’s book mentions the naupaka kahakai ‘auwai completion ceremony (which I think is the same thing), but I haven’t yet found more information on this topic.
The story has also been developed into an award-winning book by Nona Beamer, illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried, and the legend is in more detail on Hale Moana B&B’s post and within Hawai’i Volcanoes & Haleakala National Parks’ Nature Notes. It’s so beautiful, I wonder if it would have positive floriography for my bouquet, but today we chose the Sonia orchids for our wedding leis instead.
Say yes to all the flowers, say no to flower stickers.