Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem/
Children's Garden

Steven Nagano
4-H Extension Agent
Pearl City Urban Garden Center

Students from HCC service club construct animal garden

The increased urbanization in Hawai`i, especially on Oahu, limits opportunities for today’s citizens, especially youngsters, to experience nature and open land areas. The natural environment provides aesthetic experiences not found in most urban areas or the classroom. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Urban Garden Center (UGC) in Pearl City provides outreach educational opportunities in urban forestry. Programs at this facility engage the general community, youth, and youth educators in hands-on learning experiences to promote an understanding of trees and the role they play in our environment and daily lives.

The Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem Garden and the Children’s Garden at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center are the focal point for this exciting extension project. Volunteers and extension staff are working together to develop a curriculum for volunteer tour docents to use for guided interactive school tours through these unique gardens.

Objective 1. Educational Curriculum Adoption and Assessment Objective. To adopt, develop and evaluate five educational components/modules for fourth to sixth graders.

Outputs. Volunteers and 4-H club members will assist in developing or adapting materials from other sources such as Hawaii Nature Center, various botanical gardens, other children’s gardens on the mainland, and extension materials. The educational curriculum will be integrated toward the Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem project and the 8 theme gardens in the Children’s Garden in the Urban Garden Center (UGC): Pizza Garden, Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden, Sensory Garden, Animal Garden, Compass/Sundial Garden, House Garden, Worm Tunnel, and Bog Garden.

Curriculum are currently being reviewed to be adopted to work directly with fourth to sixth grade students completing a non-formal educational program involved in the Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem and Children’s Garden and plan to adopt a behavior or practice.

Click here for details on Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem/Children's Garden

Outcomes. Fourth to sixth grade students completing a non-formal educational
program involved in the Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem and Children’s Garden and actually adopt a behavior or practice within 6 months. An extension of one year is needed to complete the 12 educational curriculum modules and assessment.

Objective 2. Theme Garden Development Objective. 4-H members, UGC volunteers, Community Service Learning (CSL) interns and CES staff will construct/develop theme gardens for fourth to sixth graders.

Outputs. The Children’s Garden features an abundance of 8 different “theme” gardens for children and even adults to admire the artistic talents that plants display.

Click here for details about the Children's Garden at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center.

Funding for the project came from the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, the Oahu Urban Garden Ohana, the National 4-H Council, the Hawaii 4-H Alumni Association, the Rainbows 4-H club, volunteers of the Urban Garden Center and in-kind donations from various businesses.

Fourth to sixth grade students completing a non-formal educational program involved in community decision-making and plan to become actively involved in a community service project.

Outcomes. Communities, schools and educators are becoming more aware of the educational outreach programs offered from the Urban Garden Center and showcase of various gardens it contains. The Children’s Gardens is one of the most unique gardens within the community due to its creativity, interesting designs, and garden work. Fourth to sixth grade students completing a non-formal educational program involved in community decision-making and become actively involved in a community service project within 6 months.

Hawaiian Forest Ecosystem/Children's Garden Curriculum

Module 1: Biodiversity, Stewardship, and Propagation:
“Introduction” – a presentation giving an overview and expectations of the program
“Knowing Native Names” – an introduction to native plants
“Scavenger Hunt” – an exploration of the native plants already at UGC
“Seed Collection and Identification” – using plants at UGC
“Plant Propagation No. 1” – propagation of various species from seeds
“Plant Propagation No. 2” – propagation of various species from cuttings

Module 2: Mapping and Monitoring:
“ A Key to Science” – an introduction to using dichotomous keys (students could make a dichotomous key to the native plants at UGC)
“Adopt a Site” – students adopt an area, survey the site, and draw a map
“Plant Propagation No. 3” – students monitor the germination and growth of their seedlings

Module 3: Alien Plant Control:
“Alien Invaders” and/or “Test Your Native Intelligence” – students learn the difference between native and non-native plants
“Plant Identification Cards” – students make an ID card/fact sheet for the plants in their area
“Alien Weed Control” – students use weed control methods in their plots
“Plant Propagation No. 4” – students monitor the germination and growth of seedlings

Module 4: Native Restoration:
“Natural Communities” and “Natural Community Connections” – students learn about natural ecosystems and vegetation communities and native animals
“Restoration and Landscape Design” – students design a layout for their plots
“Irrigation Systems” – students set up the irrigation systems
“Planting No. 1” – students begin to plant native plants in their plot
“Planting No. 2” – student finish planting their plot
“ Monitoring” and “What Does It All Mean” – students survey and map their plot for comparison to maps drawn in week 7 and put their maps together to form a big map of the entire native ecosystem area
“Maintenance” – students do follow-up maintenance in their plot, as needed
"Hoike” or “Stewardship Conference” – students share what they have done in an open-house setting

Module 5: Pizza Garden:
“History”– students learn about history of pizza
“Eating Healthy Connections” – how the pizza fits into a balanced diet
Module 6: Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden:
“The Uses of Native Hawaiian Trees in Culture ” – students will learn the significance of plants to cultural, religious, and shelter
“Identification” – students will know how to identify different trees.
Module 7: Sensory Garden:
“Senses and How They Work” – students share their limitations
“Designing for the Physically Challenged” – students design a garden for physically challenged persons.

Module 8: Animal Garden:
“Monkey See Monkey Do” – students will learn plants are named for their physical attributes.
“Creative Landscape Design” – students learn how to design their own garden art.

Module 9: Compass/Sundial Garden:
“Ancient Means of Telling Time”– students will learn how time was measured without watches and clocks.
“Global Positioning for Tomorrow’s World” – students will learn how GPS is used for map making and telling locations.

Module 10: House Garden:
“Plants Have Character, Too!” – students will learn plants have unique characteristics.
“Landscape Design” – students design a layout

Module 11: Worm Tunnel:
“Learning to Raise Silkworms” – students will learn the lifecycle of the silkworm

Module 12: Bogwalk Garden:
“Natural Communities” and “Natural Community Connections” – students learn about natural ecosystems and vegetation communities

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Collage of Volunteeers from UGC

The Children's Garden at CTAHR's Pearl City Urban Garden Center

The Pizza Garden was the first garden completed and features plants found on a pizza. The 5-slice pizza (one piece was eaten) measures 15-feet across and includes green pepper, sweet pepper, pineapple, onion, tomato, parsley, basil, and sweet marjoram. Swan daisy were planted for its brilliant yellow flowers. A trunk of a monkeypod tree was cut with chainsaw and painted red to represent pepperoni! The crust is represented by painted recycled concrete cores. The slices are separated by aluminum edging. The sign is made from monkeypod wood with the words cut with a router.

What do an octopus tree, leopard tree, and cat’s whisker plant have in common? They represent a collection of groundcover, plants, and trees with animal names! The Animal Garden has 45 plants with this distinctive trait. There is the “wild animal” section with the leopard tree, leopard plant, fox tail asparagus and kangaroo plant. Remember the nursery rhyme, “hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock”? There is a dog represented by the dog bone tree; the cat represented by the cat’s tail and cat’s whisker (there is catnip for accent); the mouse represented by the mickey mouse plant-cat-mouse chase” and the hickory dickory dock represented by the hickory tree. The mouse can run and hide like in the nursery rhyme. The sandbox tree, shrimp plant, oyster plant, and octopus tree form part of the “ocean” section. The butterfly plant, the spider plant, spider lily, ant tree, and tapeworm plant create the “insect” section. In the “farm animal” section we can find the burro’s tail, pony tail, chicken eye, hogplum, and eggfruit tree. Watching over the garden is Nellie, a iron frame and steel mesh 8-foot tall giraffe that is slowly being covered over by ivy plant. At its base is the kangaroo fern.

Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden is an exceptional garden all by itself. Native Hawaiian trees accent the 13 consonants, vowels, and okina found in the Hawaiian language. For every letter there is a selection of trees. Trees represented include alahee, hame, kawila, koa, lonomea, naio, ohia, papala, wiliwili, and `aalii.

Hidden behind a careful screen of koa and lonomea trees, lies the Sundial/Compass Garden which offers a stunning constrast of uniformity and perfection. The garden is a nearly perfect circle 20-feet in diameter with a border of gray arbor stones that surround the two sizes of hardscape material of gravel and pea gravel. The garden has an 8-foot long shiny black wood and fiberglass resin “gnomon” marking solar time. Skillfully crafted roman numerals are recessed into 12-inch by 12-inch concrete blocks to record the sun’s travel during the day along points around the sundial. The border is accented with four points NSEW as well as mauka, makai, diamond head and ewa. For the future, instruments that use GPS will reference the Sundial/Compass garden location in relation to schools and geographical sights on Oahu. Distinctive barrel cactus adds shape and color.

The Sensory Garden took 12 months to complete and was the first garden to feature a concrete sidewalk. There are two raised beds made from natural rock that measures 32-inches high by 12-feet wide by 42-feet long. A 6-foot wide sidewalk surrounds the beds and connects to the service road. Screened topsoil and peat moss were used to backfill the gardens. Rocks were added as an accent. Plants with smell and touch were planted near the edge. Plants with more unique shape and color were planted in the middle of the garden. A galvanized pipe railing assists physically challenged persons. Two planters mark each end of the garden and will be planted with fragrant plants that can be rotated. Later signs and Braille signs will be mounted.

What makes a bathroom featuring a toilet with a royal flush plant, or a kitchen with a cup and saucer plant, or a garage with sandpaper vine so unique? These are just a few of the plants found in the House Garden. The garden funded through a grant from Deft, Inc. was started in fall 2002 and planted in April 2003. The theme focused on plants with house names. The House Garden is divided into 5 different rooms of plants (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and garage) with each having its own distinct menagerie of plants and garden artwork. The outside walls are red hibiscus and the interior walls are golden dewdrop. People enter first through a gate and walk through a hallway where all the rooms can be seen from the path.

The Worm Tunnel features a 50-foot long curving tunnel that students can enter from one end and imagine themselves inside a worm. A concrete sidewalk was constructed first to provide a low maintenance footpath. The walls are made from reinforcing bars covered with nylon mesh and burlap. A green ivy was selected to cover the outside. Unique features are a convex mirror placed at the one end worm and as they emerge they see themselves, air holes in the sides, eyes, and antennae. Plants that attract moths and butterflies were planted to enhance their attraction to the garden. Garden art designed and painted by Urban Garden Center volunteers are an added feature to this garden.

Bogwalk Garden unique features include a 180-foot boardwalk constructed to give participants the feel of actually entering and experiencing a bog. Water plants are featured in 12 tubs that line the path. Intriguing trees, ground shrubs, and groundcovers give the viewer a feel for an interesting experience.

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