Seems our sacred garden may be featured in Heirloom Gardener magazine. Here is the summary of the proposed article by Margaret Haapoja, a wrier specializing in gardens for 17 years:
Surrounding the new $16 million Hindu temple under construction on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, are lush tropical gardens. All designed by one of the twenty monks who live on the 458-acre property, they comprise collections of 250 varieties of Cordylines including some named cultivars, bromeliads and aroids as well as Hawaiian native plants and other ornamentals that thrive in the mild rainforest microclimate along the Wailua River below Mount Waialeale. Paramacharya Palaniswami has lived at the monastery for 37 years, and he is responsible for the landscaping. He and his fellow monks also tend a large organic vegetable garden using a French raised-bed system which provides 70% of their own food. To help fund the monastery into the future, the monks are growing ten acres of noni fruits and a 30-acre hardwood plantation.
It was beekeeping that led Palaniswami into horticulture. “When the monatsery sold the bees, I found myself still enamored with the botanical world,” he says,”and started landscaping and then we got into collecting.” He maintains a gardening philosophy of what he calls “benign neglect,” because the property is so large with thousands of plants and only limited caretakesr. “We are happy to look after a plant for a couple months until it gets established,” he says,”and then he has to take care of himself.”
Gradually Palaniswami has introduced more and more sacred, medicinal and cultural plants from India and Sri Lanka where his spiritual heritage comes from. His goal for the next 3-5 years is to populate the streams and 24 ponds on the property with water plants, and he began last year with some Victoria lilies (see photo below). Other monks work in the raised-bed veggie garden that is stunningly beautiful, and grow fruit trees, herbs and more.
ìIn India sacred gardens are part of the traditional temple architectural design,” Palaniswami says,”but in America weíve never translated that. Even though there are hundreds of Hindu temples in America, there are none that have the opportunityóthe weather, the soilóto do what India has done for thousands and thousands of years. Now we have this very first temple garden in Hawaii, and itís become so marvelous that itís taken on a life of its own.”
When we toured the Hindu monastery last March, the dramatic landscape with the deep valley, river and waterfall are what immediately caught my eye after we walked in through a pathway lined with unusual species of ti, palms, pritchardias and other tropical plants. Palaniswami has skillfully combined various colors and heights and arranged plants artistically in curved beds so the eye wants to see what’s around the corner He has created many little garden “rooms” that way, and attractively combining statuary and plants.