“It’s just a parking
lot!” you may exclaim. But, oh no, you maybe pleasantly surprised.
This 8,092 square foot parking lot is the home of a new Native Hawaiian
Garden for Maryknoll School. It is located between Maryknoll High
School on Punahou Street and Maryknoll Grade School on Wilder Avenue on
the corner of Clark Street and Whitney Street. Maryknoll found this old
falling apart residence and turned it into a much needed parking lot.
Maryknoll has very limited land, so every opportunity for more space to
grow and to create an educational garden is explored. Maryknoll
students can see how Native Hawaiian plants can grow and they can learn
about the many uses of these plants in the Hawaiian culture of past and
present, such as the Native Kou Trees. These trees not only serve as
the much needed shade trees but they also provide a cooling effect from
the asphalt parking surface. Most of the Native plants were used by the
Hawaiian culture. For example, the wood of the Kou Tree was once prized
to make calabash bowls. The Naio is fine grain wood used to make
torches for night fishing and the Kulu’i leaves are used to weave into a
Maile like lei. And of course, no school should be without the Ti plant
for good luck at the school games.
undulating mounds with curving concrete brick headers that separate the
Native Naio and Laua’e Fern ground covers are the foreground to help to
screen the protective H-1 freeway CMU wall. The combination of the low
berms and the layering of Native plant material also help to buffer the
noise from the traffic for the neighborhood.
Not many people can
boast of an urban parking lot planted with mostly all Native Hawaiian
plants or plants used by the Hawaiian culture. Using this valuable land
in the heart of the city helped the students of Maryknoll and the
community to become more aware that the planting of Native plants will
help to preserve some of Hawai’is precious rare and endangered plant
species. As these Native plant species become established, they will be
more self sufficient thereby using less of a demand for water,
fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Many of the Native plants used
are also drought tolerant such as the ‘Akia.
The layering of the
palms, Native Kou Tree, Native White Hibiscus, Kulu’i, Ti leaf, and Naio
Papa help to screen and soften the parking lot for the Ewa adjoining
neighbors. The Diamond Head neighbors are happy with their view of a
garden which screens the parking lot. The entrance is enhanced by the
existing specimen, newly shaped and pruned Singapore Plumeria Tree with
native shrubs and ground covers planted at its base. There is also an
addition of a Plumeria Tree to create a balanced entrance and the
flowers of the trees can be picked to make lei for graduation
The planting of
Native ground covers such as the Naio papa will help to prevent erosion
and encourage water to penetrate into the soil thus decreasing run off
into the storm drainage system. This little Maryknoll parking lot will
help in its own small way to help preserve our increasingly limited
The Students of
Maryknoll can see with their own eyes the growing of Native Plants such
Kou Tree Kulu’i
Fern Ma’o Mountain
Naio papa Nanu
And an added bonus
is that the neighbors of this new parking lot are thrilled with the many
new plants growing in their neighborhood, Maryknoll’s garden.
So do not be too
surprised to see that a Native Hawaiian Garden can be found growing in
an urban city parking lot!
Maryknoll Clark Street Native Garden Parking Lot was recognized by Scenic Hawaii for a Betty
Crocker Landscape Award of Appreciation in 2008.