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Classes at Ali'i Kula Lavender

November 22, 2013 - Leah Sherman

A notice a few Sundays ago in The Maui News' “Ahead of the Class” column (which always runs on Page 2 of the Currents section) for a “Succulent Dish Garden Class” at Ali‘i Kula Lavender in Kula caught my eye.

I've been the farm probably a half-dozen times and it always feels like a calming refuge. The air is cooler, the pace is slower and the smells and views are heavenly. I could spend an afternoon there just sitting on a bench and drinking lavender tea.

While they were here in July, my mom and her friend begrudgingly took the trip up there and left raving about it. They paid for the guided tour around the farm and were fascinated with the different varieties and smells, as well as all of the nonlavender plants and the Jackson chameleons (they loved those). As an added bonus, the lavender picked along the tour made nice little bouquets for them to take home.

But back to the class: I've got several low-maintenance plants sitting on my desk and I'm always drawn to tables of potted succulent plants whenever I come across them (at the swap meet, craft fairs, wherever), so I thought, “That sounds cool. I want to make one of those.”

I sent the lavender farm an email, and the next day I was signed up.

I made the drive up the hill the morning of the class and arrived about 20 minutes before the class was to begin. I checked in at the gift shop and got a mug of tea (bring your own reusable cup and receive a free lavender tea or coffee) before meandering down the pathway to the farm's crafting area.

I was joined by three other students and our teacher was master gardener Judy Starbuck. She told us all about succulents, how they grow and how to care for them before giving us tips on how to build our own succulent dish gardens. Then we were each given a ceramic container with soil and left to chose our own plants from two trays of clippings.

Not considering myself very imaginative, I spent a lot of time looking at the example gardens that were on display, thinking, “Mine's not gonna look that good.” But once I got to work on it, it was really easy. I quietly identified several plants that I liked the look of more than others and started to build my garden out from the centerpiece plant. And just like that, it was done. And it didn't look bad. And it was so simple.

And hopefully simple to care for. Judy said that it would take a few days for the plants to take root in the soil. And a number of my plants did fall out of place and into their carrying box on the way home. But I gently placed them back in the dish and watered the whole thing. Two days later, none of the plants have fallen out again (or died), so I'm feeling good about my dish garden.

If you haven't been to Ali‘i Kula Lavender, you should go — to see the fields of lavender and enjoy the smell, if nothing else. For the more adventurous, the farm regularly offers classes and special events. For example, here are the offerings for the rest of the month, according the AKL website:

Floral Cornucopia and Pine Cone Turkey Craft Class

10 a.m, Nov. 24

Crafts include a woven cornucopia basket overflowing with the bounty of beautiful flora from our farm, as well as adorable pine cone turkeys.

Cost: $40 plus tax includes all materials and instruction.

Families Day Out

9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., 1 and 2:30 p.m., Nov. 24

Take a moment to stop and smell the lavender and spend quality time together as a family at AKL. Enjoy mini-bouquet making and a walking tour

Cost: $10 per person plus tax.

“Lavender” (Black) Friday

Nov. 29

Save 15 percent on everything in the Gallery Gift Shop all day. All guests get free admission to the farm.

Holiday Wreath Making

10 a.m., Nov. 30

Make a natural and stunning holiday wreath using beautiful protea and foliage from our farm. Wreath base, flowers & foliage, supplies & instruction included. Cost: $40 plus tax includes all materials and instruction.

For more information, see Ali‘i Kula Lavender's website (link at right) or call 878-3004. The farm is located at 1100 Waipoli Road in Kula. General admission is $3. Kamaaina, military and senior discounts are available. Children 12 and under are free. Bring in a nonperishable canned food item for the Maui Food Bank and get free admission to the farm the every Saturday and Sunday in November. AKL is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Walking tours cost $12 ($10 with advance reservations) and are offered daily at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Cart tours ($25) are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The farm will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas and will close at 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. According to the website, all cart tours, classes and gourmet picnic lunches require advance reservations.

 
 

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My finished succulent dish garden.

 
 
 
 

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