On my street corner stands a towering ficus tree. It’s over three stories tall with branches stretching as wide, and as soon as I see it I know I’m home. It provides a cool sanctuary for me to meet up with my run club friends, to the tourists resting on the hot trek to Diamond Head, and to the church sitting beneath its branches. The ficus, and the smaller trees lining the block, make our neighborhood.

Humans evolved with trees, not concrete. It makes sense then that where there are trees we are calmer, happier, and feel closer to the earth. And if they are the right trees, well fed.  When I lived in Manoa with a yard full of avocado, tangerine, and grapefruit, I barely worried about groceries and relished in my morning harvesting ritual, wrapped in my robe and clutching my mug of matcha.


And trees clean and cool the air. A tree with a broad canopy can lower air temperatures by ten degrees, and when strategically planted can cool your house, your child’s classroom, and your walk to work. Because walkable neighborhoods are healthy neighborhoods, and shady, tree lined streets make walking (and biking) possible in our sweltering months.

Most of the photos for this post were taken in Manoa, where like Oahu’s other older neighborhoods, trees bring a connection to the past. Many of the giant trees in the valley were planted by generations gone by, each tree a beautiful legacy helping make Manoa the community it is today.


So let’s transform our neighborhoods and quality of life by preserving and planting trees. Around our homes, our streets, and our schools.


For helpful resources on tree planting visit this great guide by Trees For Honolulu’s Future.

Photos by Emma Oshiro, story by Tamara Rigney with help from Emma Oshiro


An Interview with Paiko’s 2018 Artist in Resident, Wyatt Hersey

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Paiko invited artist Wyatt Hersey to Oahu for a week to soak up the island’s energy and create for us an illustration expressing our love for Honolulu’s trees. We were excited to work with Wyatt as we were drawn to his work’s simple beauty.

After a visit to Tantalus Botanicals to see our friends Chris and Michelle, we sat down with Wyatt on a bench in the forest to talk about his background and artistic process.

The Arbor Day Tee Shirt we created with Wyatt’s illustration is available here. $10 from each sale goes to starting a project to inspire isle residents to preserve and plant trees around their homes and neighborhoods.


Where are you from?

I grew up in the Bay Area…  I lived in Santa Cruz for 3 years and then Olympia, Washington, which is where I finished school.  I studied field ecology-Birds.

Favorite medium for art?

I love painting and I usually paint with acrylic paint. Right now, being here this week I’ve been using gouache, which I’ve been really enjoying. In terms of my inspiration, I’m mostly inspired by printmaking, which is funny because I don’t really do printmaking much. But I’m inspired by screen printing and block printing and how those styles lend themselves to graphic styles of art. I used to screen print at home, but it’s really difficult to do unless you wanna invest money in getting a setup, which I just haven’t. It’s easier to paint. I can still be inspired by those things, but I can just go get a panel, and I paint. I can do it anywhere.

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Favorite place in Hawai’i that you’ve visited?

That’s a hard one. I hiked the Aiea loop trail, and that was really awesome. I was able to see some of the native trees and to see the native honeycreepers, which was a goal of mine. And then yesterday I went up onto the North Shore and snorkled… I think it was called shark cove? Shark’s cove; That was really awesome.

Favorite location personally and for art inspo?

Favorite location anywhere?! This year, probably one of the most inspiring places for me was the North fork of the Feather River, which is right behind my house, where I live in the summers. And I would go any free time I had and I would draw, but often times I would just like lay out and decompress and go swimming in the freezing cold water.

Hawaii’s been incredible. It’s been really cool to come here and get inspired by the tropical plant shapes and flowers. It’s so weird; It’s like back, to the thing Michelle was talking about, with the roses. Being from the mainland, we’ve been programed to think certain things are beautiful, some of these Hawaii flowers are weird to me, but they're really beautiful and it’s cool to celebrate them because… a rose doesn’t represent this landscape at all. If you appreciate the flowers that grow here, it can create more connection and appreciation of where you are.

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Does your location affect your art?

Yeah, where I am definitely does affect what I am creating. My work is always about nature and peoples’ relationships to nature and just connecting with nature. So my art has a lot of natural environments and usually houses too, because that’s part of it. And vibes of landscapes definitely. Hawai’i took me three or four days to get relaxed into the feeling of being here. Everyone's super laid back, not trying to get anywhere at certain time.

Everywhere does have a different feeling that affects people and how they exist.

What is your take on the tree situation in urban Honolulu?

I did notice there aren't very many trees. And there definitely could be more. They are so beautiful and they're so varied in their shapes. But also just thinking about their role on planet earth. And all that they give to us as people and all the other beings on the planet is really awesome. We can thank trees for being able to breathe oxygen. We wouldn't be able to be here if it wasn't for trees and other plants. And the vast majority of our shelters…most of them are made with wood, which is something to be grateful for, for everyone's grateful for shelter.

Also one of the things I get most excited about in life is gleaning fruit. Finding trees that aren’t being harvested and getting permission from people and harvesting food that’s not being used. And there’s so much. Where I live in Chico’s amazing. There's tons of almond and walnut and pecans and there’s so many different types of fruit.

What do you want people to take away from your Paiko illustrations?

An appreciation of trees. And I feel like what I want people to take away from my art, no matter what I’m doing, is a sense of celebration and joy. And, like I said, it’s pretty much always humans and nature. Putting energy of appreciation into life and nature.  

Purchase your Paiko x Wyatt Hersey Arbor Day Tee

Story by Emma Oshiro




Tucked away on the lush green slopes of Mount Tantalus, immersed in the thriving forest fed by Manoa showers, sits one of our favorite flower farms: Tantalus Botanicals. This small operation is run by Chris Ritson and Michelle Broder Van Dyke on Michelle’s family property.  Though the lush neighborhood is largely residential, the couple came to recognize the land’s agricultural potential, finding clumps of ornamental flowers in the jungle planted by previous owners. They began to cultivate the wilderness around them, and thus Tantalus Botanicals was born.

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Our closest flower source, Tantalus Botanicals is directly inland from Paiko, a 20-minute drive mauka from our shop. Flowers grow throughout the rambling property and flourish naturally from the jungle conditions, and the couple’s permaculture practices. The healthy torch ginger, parakeet heliconia, and bird of paradise Chris bring us each week are cut that morning, then head straight down the hill to Paiko.  

The farm is just one facet of the Tantalus’ rich history. Named Pu'u 'Ohi'a by the native Hawaiians, the mountain came to host many different peoples, from Hawaiian Royalty to diplomats, to the adventurous Punahou students who in the mid-1800’s assigned it the nickname ‘Tantalus’, after the Greek mythological figure. The land Tantalus Botanicals sits on was originally King Kalakaua’s. In 1890, the land was transferred to the Swedish diplomat H.W. Schmidt, rumor has it, to settle a gambling debt with the King. Schmidt hosted many picnics and parties, with guests often arriving via horseback After changing hands several times, the property was bought by Michelle’s family in 1987.


Now the couple makes their living on the land, working from home on their other jobs, Chris as an artist, Michelle as a writer, when not tending the farm and forest. In addition to growing flowers, they have also taken to restoring the property’s native forest. Chris has cut back much of the aggressive strawberry guava and has encouraged Koa seedlings to take their place. He sends his extra seedlings off to nourishing homes.

We are so grateful to work with Chris and Michelle. They not only bring us beautiful flowers, no doubt raised with love, but through their lifestyle and farm, they embrace the natural world around them. And it embraces them. As Michelle mentioned while we were visiting, “I would like to think Chris and I are now shaping the land, but as I watch the earth grow, I’m humbled by the understanding that it is shaping us.”


Story and photos by Emma Oshiro

IN BLOOM: Rattlesnake Calathea

The beautiful Rattlesnake calathea, native to Central America, is what jungle dreams are made of. It’s also one of our favorite locally available plants for making arrangements.

The flowers really do look like rattles. They even have the flexibility of a snake, (yes on occasion we play with our flowers), and dry into delicate ruffled forms. For a minimal arrangement, pair them with a sturdy green leaf like hala; for something more ornate, mix them into a colorful arrangement as an accent bloom.


The leaves don’t hold up in water, but they dry beautifully, twisting, scrunching, and fading until resembling silk. We’re still marveling at the grace of dried calathea leaves and blooms we harvested over six months ago. Find Rattlesnake calathea blooms at our flower bar, and try growing your own plant for the leaves. Olomana Tropicals, often at farmers markets, carries starters.

Photos by Kenna Reed, Story by Tamara Rigney


We’ve just received a fresh batch of ceramic animal planters from artist and dear friend Dee Oliva. Kitties, llamas, sloths, and dogs, each critter has its own personality, and is waiting to be paired with a plant friend. Stop by and adopt one today!

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Top Photo: Emma Oshiro // Bottom Photo: Emily Rae Bedient

IN BLOOM: Parakeet Heliconia

Summer is coming to an end and the heliconias still seem to be popping up everywhere we go. We've been getting in the beautiful parakeet variety from our friends at Tantalus Botanicals, and we couldn't be happier.


This particular variety blooms year round and can be orange, red, pink, green or even cream colored. Our favorite orange resembles little firecrackers!



When arranging Parakeet Heliconia, we suggest using a more narrow mouthed vessel to help balance the delicate stems. Staggering the heights of each stem allows for a more minimal arrangement, letting the details of each bloom really stand out. For a longer lasting arrangement, mist the flowers and trim stems every couple days.




Photos and story by Kenna Reed


Story and photos by Emma Oshiro

We are thrilled when customers come in with updates on their plants, but even more so when those plants have names. Charley, Martha, Walter; we’ve heard some good ones! Intrigued by this plant naming phenomenon that seems to be growing (especially among our young green thumbs) we talked to a few teens about their “monikered” plant friends.

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Kaya names her plants after powerful female figures in history. Her succulents boast the names of warrior Queen Boadicea, the only Empress of Chine Wu Zeitan, and the infamous Cleopatra. A deep thinker and a young poet, it is only fitting that Kaya chose powerful and intricate names.

After careful consideration, Kaya fell in love with the names Boadicea and Melinoe and quickly named her two plants after these strong women. Ironically, Melione, named after the Greek goddess of ghosts, was dropped and subsequently died. Fortunately, Kaya continued to add to her green family, collecting plants from as far away as Kauai, continuing the legacies of the fierce women they are named after.






But, why name plants in the first place? One friend said she ‘thought it would be funny’, which we agree with: it’s hard not to crack up when telling a friend you’re heading home to water your ‘Bernard’ Another we talked to expressed a connection to nature, saying of her naming plants“… it makes them happier…” and “…plants are living things so I figure they deserve names”. One teen explained “it’s kinda like owning a pet in a way for me, since I gotta take care of them…naming them makes it more personal and forms… a connection.”










It seems that people name their plants for the same reason they name anything they care for, to show their respect and affection, no matter how wacky or funny the name might be. So feel free to tell your friends you’ve got to get home to water your Penelope and boast to your Mom about the new blooms of your Henry. Chances are, your company is heading home to hang with their plant friends too!


Each time we help someone find that perfect plant, we're curious where it's going home to.  We know some of you have incredible jungled out houses! To take a peek into your spaces, at the beginning of summer we put out the call for #paikoliving submissions on Instagram. It was hard to decide, but we picked our three winners!


Our June winner went to Matty Guevara (@mexicancoconut), who with his husband Jordan owns The Public Pet in Kaimuki. If you've been into the shop, you know they have good taste and its no surprise that THIS is what they sleep under at night. 


Our July selection went to Malia Chu (@maliachu) who demonstrated the perfect way to incorporate Paiko into her modern Hawaii home.


We ended the contest on a high note in August with Moni Naverano's (@moninaverano) incredible living room with not one, but FOUR Paiko planters as well as a macrame plant hanger from Notted Nest!

We really do have the best customers and want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who entered. Keep sharing bt tagging #paikoliving and stay tuned for details on our next contest!


This summer has been hot! To cool off we've been jumping in the ocean, finding any excuse to be in air conditioning, and searching out big shady trees. Anyone that's visited our shop knows we're in the middle of Kaka'ako, a neighborhood near to our hearts, but one of the hottest spots on Oahu.  In our asphalt covered neighborhood you have to look hard to find that shady tree.

So today we are using the blog to share some urban tree facts, and to hopefully encourage everyone to get out there and start planting. Let's make Honolulu a better place to live one tree at a time.  Treehooo!

Here are few of our favorite tree facts: 

  • The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • You can easily request a street tree planting from the Honolulu City and County's Urban Forestry Department (808.971.7151).
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%.
  • Trees absorb and block noise and reduce glare. A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40%.
  • One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles. 
  • A large tree can provide a day's supply of oxygen for 4 people.
  • Urban areas with heavy tree cover are about 10 degrees cooler than urban areas with few trees.
  • Studies have proven that urban vegetation can result in slower heartbeats, lower blood pressure, and more relaxed brain wave patterns.
  • Hospital patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when their hospital room offered a view of trees. They also had fewer complaints, less pain killers and left the hospital sooner.
  • Find more info on the benefits of trees here

Our current space unfortunately doesn't allow us to keep an inventory of trees, but try these nurseries for some great ones: Frankie's,  Waiahole Botanicals, Ko'olau Farmers, and Sharon's Plants.

Happy planting!

    IN BLOOM: Bird of Paradise

    On a recent walk around the neighborhood, we couldn't help but notice all the massive bird of paradise bushes studding the yards of Palolo. When passing by a bush brimming with flowers, we had to stop to offer our admiration and ask to snip a couple of stems. Throughout the year, bird of paradise leaves are a favorite for arrangements, so having a few of the flowers was a real treat! 

    We wanted to keep it simple, so we just snipped two stalks of big fresh flowers. With a vase already in mind, we kept the stems pretty short and made our way back home.


    We happened to have a few older arrangements that were ready to get tossed, so we salvaged the leaves (they tend to last longer than the flowers), and picked a nice dracaena to go with our flowers. With simple arrangements, it's all about composition. Stagger the heights of your flowers to avoid symmetry and the awkward "bunny ear" look.  With that in mind its hard to go wrong!

    To keep your bird of paradise arrangement fresh make sure to use a clean vase (we use hydrogen peroxide as a safe cleaning agent), use flower food if you have it, change the water about every other day, and remove dead petal clusters (you can gently pull up fresh ones from the pointy flower base).



    For more tips on foraging and arranging, check out our book, 'OHI: How to Gather and Arrange Hawai'i's Flora, available for purchase on our website! 

    Photos and Story by Kenna Reed