Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.


Project Name:Waiʻanae Boys and Girls Club
Location:Waiʻanae, Hawaiʻi
Client:Boys and Girls Club of Hawaiʻi

Walking through a grove of native ʻOhiʻa Lehua Trees, with flowers in the colors of the rainbow; yellow, orange and red, is now how the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaiʻi enter their new Waiʻanae Clubhouse.

It started with an idea to design a garden for a place in need. The non-profit, Waiʻanae Boys & Girls Club of Hawaiʻi was the perfect Pro-Bono project to bring the community together by planting a native Hawaiian learning garden and by creating a welcoming entrance gathering place.

What once was a small tree planting project with a limited budget of $1,000, grew to an ambitious 5,000 s.f. native Hawaiian garden and pathway entrance which then grew even further into an additional 2,000 s.f. side yard and parking area.

Looking like a neglected large space shaded by over-grown Monkeypod Trees, this dark, dirt-filled, unsafe tripping hazard front yard was used as a bus parking space. Keiki entered the clubhouse from the side entrance rather than the unpleasant front entrance.

Three schematic landscape designs, a fundraising drive, and the excitement and support of the Waiʻanae Boys & Girls Director, Lana Keamo and Administrator, Jim Gagne started this garden transformation. With only a month until the planting day, Jackie Ralya, Dennis Kim, and the landscape architect spent New Year's Eve planting the native ʻAeʻae from a few trays of ground cover plants to rooted cuttings that could fill the entire 5,000 s.f. area. George Keamo tilled the land for a week in preparation for three full days of work. Van Goto and Green Thumb's generous donations and their 3 finest workers, Franklin, Danny and Rodel, George, Richard from the Boys & Girls Club and the landscape architect worked diligently to prepare the soil and install the new irrigation system. This was generously donated by Bob Bosley from Diamond Head Sprinkler Supply. The poly-divider, donated in part by George Oshiro from Exacta Sales, was careful laid out.

25 of the finest United States Army workers from the Military 2nd Battalion, 211 Artillery, 556 Signal Company US Army, Schofield, and the USAR Theater Support Group, Fort Shafter volunteered to help move the gravel and the mulch donated by Hawaiian Earth Works. These core workers were invaluable for the preparation work before the planting could begin. With little notice, Stan Oka from the City and County of Honolulu, Urban Forestry had the Monkeypod Trees pruned. The sky opened up and the sun shined on this beautiful living garden. Oahu Urban Garden, Waiahole Botanicals, Native Plant Source, Green Thumb, Inc. and Lyon Arboretum donated some of the many plants for this project.

Jackie Ralya representing the Friends of Hawaii's Urban Forestry and Kaulunai Urban & Community Forestry Program raised additional funds from the NFL Pro Bowl greening project, USDA Forest Service, Covanta Energy, First Insurance Company, and Hawaiian Electric Company.

With excitement in the air, the planting day started. 300 Boys & Girls Clubhouse Members and 100 volunteers came together to plant the many native Hawaiian plant species. Enthusiastically, the boys and girls lined up on the new meandering pathway. They listened to a short program that included inspirational speeches by the Director, an NFL player, NFL environmental speeches, and a legend about the native ʻOhia Trees. They took part in the blessing by a Kumu of the ceremonial planting of native ʻOhia Trees. Each and every one of the boys and girls and community participated by planting at least one ʻAeʻae ground cover or native plant so that they could be a part of giving the garden life and they could proudly take ownership of their own garden.

An emphasis for this project was in the planting of Native Hawaiian plants and plants used in the Hawaiian Culture. The primary reason was that the boys and girls could learn how to plant, grow, preserve, take care of, and discover their cultural history and the uses of plants growing in their own front yard. It was also important to provide a place where they could learn the principals of stewardship and sustainability, which in turn will develop their minds in a natural setting.

Just think, a place once filled with dry packed soil, is now a place where the Boys & Girls' imaginations can run free. It is now a place where reading can take place among the fragrance of native Nanu flowers, gardening in an ʻOhiʻa Lehua forest, strolling on a garden pathway where Maʻo, ʻAkia, Kuluʻi and many other native species are abundant.

Circular and linear gravel spaces were designed for tables and benches. These areas will become places for keiki to sit, read, contemplate and interact in a peaceful setting. To help them on their way, the landscape architect recently purchased two concrete tables to be placed in the two large 10' gravel circles.

This community effort project was extremely successful. Thanks to our many Green Industry Partners, which include, the finest landscape contractors, nurseries, botanical gardens, urban gardens and landscape suppliers, for their generosity, kindness, and community service. The Boys & Girls of Hawaiʻi and the Waiʻanae Community appreciate their new garden immensely!

Under the care and watchful eyes of Lana and George, the Boys & Girls Club, the Boys & Girls Torch Club (who adopted the garden), and the entire Waiʻanae Community, their garden grows! They are now all stewards of a garden that they can call their very own.

For three decades in Hawaiʻi, the Boys & Girls Club reaches out to community youth and teens to inspire young people to become responsible citizens. And what better way to foster keikis to grow up to be these responsible, positive members of the community than for them to revitalize their community and help care for a new living garden that will inspire them for generations.

Come and see for yourself the great addition this garden is for the neighborhood of Waiʻanae at the base of the Waiʻanae Mountain Range.