Ti Leaf - Hawaiian Good Luck

Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.


Project Name: Maryknoll Clark Street Parking Lot
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Client: Maryknoll School



Honolulu, Hawaii 

“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.

The 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 ceremonies.

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 natural resources.

The Students of Maryknoll can see with their own eyes the growing of Native Plants such as:

‘Aali’i                                      ‘Akia                          Black Naio                

Hibiscus brighamii                Kou Tree                    Kulu’i                                      

Kupukupu Fern                      Ma’o                           Mountain Naupaka

Naio                                        Naio papa                  Nanu 

Pink Kulu’i                             White Hibiscus

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!

The Maryknoll Clark Street Native Garden Parking Lot was recognized by Scenic Hawaii for a Betty Crocker Landscape Award of Appreciation in 2008. 

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