Mission: Accomplished

After months of hard work, the orchid grotto is finally complete.

Rev. Jiko gave a touching blessing the morning of May 25, officially dedicating the orchid grotto and adding an exclamation point to one of the Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club’s most ambitious projects. The KDOC presented the grotto to the Daifukuji Soto Mission as a centennial gift in honor of Jim and Norma Lathrop.

The highly anticipated dragon egg lava pot was delivered by artist and sculptor Mark Kimbell of Lavapots Hawaii a few days before the blessing. Kimbell hand-made the giant lava pot in his Holualoa studio, and donated part of the bowl’s value. An anonymous donor paid the rest.

The Waimea brown lava pot was installed outside the back door to Kannon Hall, and filled with water. A white lotus, which was donated and previously cared for by Wendell Shibata, was placed in the new pond, and that, in turn, was complimented by Hunter Darling’s peach lotus. This magnificent centerpiece (though not technically in the center) was topped off with peach water lilies, guppies and moon fishes which were donated by Carol Zakahi. Rev. Jiko has agreed to feed the fish.

Meanwhile the rest of the grotto came to life just as the rest of the island has began to with the spring rains. Pukas in the lava rocks and hapu stumps were all stuffed full of orchids, and a sign was erected midway up the staircase noting the KDOC’s involvement.

Fittingly enough, the grotto will be on display at this year’s KDOC orchid show on July 28, both inside and out. A display will be set up inside along with the orchid display showing photos of the transformation process. There will be signs directing visitors to the orchid grotto viewing areas in Kannon Hall and the outside viewing area where a club member will be available to answer questions.

The concept of an orchid garden was developed by Sarah Folgostrom, who became our new president at the beginning of the year. With the go ahead by the KDOC members, needless to say, Rev. Jiko, and KDOC member Steve (does landscaping at the Temple) were excited with the project and the barren site between Kannon Hall and Columbarium was decided on. The design process for the grotto was handed over to Dick Kuehner, who had a vision for this unused rocky corridor. Dick sketched out a plan – working out difficulties such as electricity, plumbing, maintenance, safety of walking, etc . –  then created a detailed 3D model of the grotto which he presented to the temple board in January, where his plans were accepted and embraced. At the February KDOC meeting, he presented his plans to members who were equally supportive. Betty Matsuo and Joyce Hancock agreed to oversee and organize construction.

The orchid grotto project was the mastermind of Dick Kuehner, who had a vision for this unused and unattractive space between Kannon Hall and the Columbarium. Dick saw how the area could easily be turned into a beautiful orchid garden, and sketched out a plan – working out difficulties such as electricity, plumbing, maintenance, safety of walking, etc . –  then created a detailed 3D model of the grotto which he presented to the temple board in January.

Groundbreaking on the grotto took place a week later, and the project quickly gained momentum. An access trail was built along the north side of the Columbarium, the ground was leveled in between the buildings and stepping stones were poured for maintenance. Existing plants were thinned around the pond area and ground prepared for the lava pond. Orchids donated by members, Winning Orchids and Kalapana Tropicals were cleaned and planted everywhere, even on the stone wall north of the original grotto area.

A sign was erected mid-way up the staircase noting the KDOC's involvement in the grotto.Expert plumber Darryl Omori stopped by and re-routed an unsightly waterline so that it was not only out of sight, but provided the grotto with its own water valve. Dick then split lines off that valve for irrigation, which is set up on automatic timers.

All in all, the stage is set for orchids to thrive in the grotto thanks to all the hard working KDOC club members.

And even though the grotto might be complete, there’s still room to grow.

This entry was posted in News, The Grotto Project and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.