Saturday, April 13 – Frames were removed from Dick’s custom-designed stepping stones, which we had poured the week before. The steps had cured and already made access much, much easier. Any gaps around the stepping stones were filled with small lava rocks, which naturally leveled off the top terrace, three feet in front of the Colulmbarium. The frames from the completed steps were then used to place another series of stepping stones along the southern half of the grotto.
Joyce cleared the side of the walkway along the south side of the Columbarium. The broken concrete and painted stones were removed, and the void was filled with potted orchids which could be easily moved whenever the Columbarium is tented.
Plumbing and irrigation happened so fast I almost missed it. Darryl Omori stopped by and moved the water line during the week so that it now runs alongside the electric line, making it much less noticeable. Before it was an eyesore, just hanging aimlessly in midair directly in front of the picture windows. Now that it has been moved, it blends perfect with the landscape. Many mahalos to Darryl, as he did a phenomenal job.
Darryl also left us an access valve of some kind underneath the Columbarium, which Dick used for the irrigation. Dick ran a line off of the water valve, then split it out to the orchid grotto in two lines, one on each side of the large lava vein in the center of the grotto. The lines run out from underneath the Columbarium to a number of tall sprinkler heads which were mounted every three feet to ensure even watering all around. And naturally, Dick installed a timer between the valve and the sprinklers, making them essentially maintenance free. I was trying to watch and help and take notes and not be too much in the way as he did this, but he did it so fast and with such precision that it was finished by the time I fully understood. Or did I? Then there was lunch…
* * *
April 21 – I showed up an hour late. Everyone was hard at work when I got there. Orchids getting planted even! Hard to believe the orchids were actually going in the ground. Dick came the day before and painted the water pipes a dark natural brown; now they blended perfectly with the ground. The tall sprinkler heads were covered with hollowed out hapu stumps. Once the hapu stumps have orchids stuffed in them, you will never even notice the sprinkler heads.
The stepping stones had been painted and now muted in quietly with the background. Pond was filled with small #2-#3 grade lava rock, making it no longer dangerous, just a nice flat surface that drains. Carol and I planted many bamboo orchids and eria spicata orchids around the sides, which have intricate smaller blooms and thrive on rocks. Lots of working and even more learning…
* * *
Saturday, April 27 – The crew was planting orchids, lots and lots of orchids, when I arrived … many of which are already in bloom. I was surprised at how lush the grotto already looked. I guess I naturally expected it would take awhile before I saw any blooms, but they were sprinkled about everywhere. And there were still many trays full donated orchids left to be planted. Now that all the heavy rock work was done I thought maybe we’d draw a bigger crowd, but still just the same faithful crew milled about, jamming the numerous orchids into the pukas.
But it was clear that the transformation of the grotto had happened, the project had nearly come full circle. Unfortunately, the concerns of the previous month were true. The grotto had proved to be overly inviting to visitors, just not the type of visitors we wanted. A group of wild hogs had wandered in over the wall from the field on the north. The damage was minimal, this time … they tore up just enough small patches to let us know they were there.
For the time being, the ever-handy wheelbarrow was turned on its side along the north to try and block passage into the grotto, but they still have easy access to the maintenance trail along the side of the Columbarium.
Might have to form grotto subcommittees for security and luau.