by smmmarti guide
July 13, 2003
All throughout Maui you will notice little bonsai plants adorning the tables of restaurants and retail establishments. At some point you may begin to feel that a table without a bonsai is missing an essential design element. It’s quite possible that you will begin to want a bonsai. Then you will automatically head to Dan’s Greenhouse, the exclusive supplier of the lava rock Fuku bonsai in Hawaii.
Many years ago I had happened upon Dan’s while rounding the corner from the Activity Warehouse on Front Street after claiming tickets to Ulalena. I’d stopped in unsuspecting and ended up purchasing a good luck bamboo and sprig of a tropical plant to take home to the kids. After moving to Maui, when the kids developed their inevitable interest in bonsai growing, I remembered my long forgotten purchase.
Dan’s is more like a funky garage than a nursery or retail store. Dozens of wind chimes hang from the ceiling clacking in the breezes that pour in from the street through the door that never closes. A sharpei puppy sleeps in the entryway or, if traffic becomes too intense, scurries off to continue its nap in the side room.
In the back of the store sits a wire pen filled with pot-bellied piglets. Pig "food" is for sale and visitors are encouraged to help plump up the little fellows into their adulthood prime. A number of tropical bird personalities are perched about the store, one more beautiful and fascinating that the next. Macaws, cockatoos, and other hand-fed exotic birds raised on Maui for adoption and sale tempt and tease visitors with their much-touted sweet dispositions and entertaining conversation. Descriptive placards tell the story of each bird and advise visitors that cameras are encouraged, (even flash photography.)
Though Plumeria plants were imported to Hawaii during the nineteenth century, they have become the flower and scent most associated with the islands. At Dan’s you can buy the plants that produce that heady, sweet scent or have them shipped anywhere within the Continental U.S. Even more tempting is the broad variety of orchids available for purchase or shipment.
Although it was the Fuku Bonsai that we brought us here, it was the accessories that delighted us most. We learned that every lava rock bonsai needs a teeny clay cottage, and every clay cottage needs a replica of the Xi’an Terra Cotta soldiers to guard it or a little old Japanese fisherman icon to sit beside it.
Bonsai’s aren’t inexpensive and our accessories were just as costly. But learning the story of the mysterious clay warriors and their discovery was an unexpected surprise of the visit to Dan’s. The feathered friends and porcine pets we met that day are awaiting our next visit, which is sure to be soon.
From journal Maui with Keiki