Discover the amazing Akatsuka Orchid Gardens

If the Big Island is the orchid isle then Hilo is the capital of the everything orchid. Just outside Hilo is the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, a great place to view an amazing variety of spectacular orchids. Whether you’re an orchid aficionado, a part-time gardener, or just curious about what makes these flowers such a special part of the Big Island – be sure to make this a stop on your road trip.

Where is it?

The Akatsuka Orchid Gardens are located between mile markers’ 22 and 23 on Highway 11 near Volcano National Park on the Big Island. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Hilo and a 10 minute drive from Volcano.

When can I visit?

The Akatsuka Orchid Gardens are open limited hours in 2020 due to the pandemic. Currently they’re open Tuesday and Thursday between 10am – 3pm (closed between 12pm-1pm for cleaning). Access is easy and is wheelchair accessible (check their website for the latest opening hours).

A popular stop for tour buses, the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens features a large showroom – an open warehouse-like space displaying an amazing variety of colorful orchids. There are over 500 blooming orchids on display! These include dendrobiums, oncidiums, phalaenopsis, miltonia and odontoglossums. There are also anthuriums, bromeliads and tillandsia plants.

History

The Akatsuka Orchid Gardens have been specializing in the cultivation of orchids on the Big Island of Hawaii for over 30 years. The founder, Moriyasu Akatsuka, moved to Hawaii from Japan and started the gardens as a family business in 1974. It began life as a cymbidium orchid farm before Moriyasu changed direction, growing the more vibrant Cattleya orchid.

The first garden showroom opened to the public in the 1980s. It was at this time that Moriyasu began creating his own original Cattleya orchids.

By the 1990s the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens had grown in popularity, attracting many visitors from around the country and around the world. The gardens expanded, adding a gift shop and gaining the required certification to ship orchids to customers.

In 2000 the gardens renovated the showroom and a modern greenhouse was also added.

In 2016 the gardens created the world’s first orchid maze! You can experience the maze on a self-guided tour of the gardens (all 8,000 square feet!). There is also a 45 minute tour through the maze and the greenhouse growing facility (COVID-19 may have postponed this tour, please check their website for the latest details).

The tillandsia (above and right) are air plants, native to northern Mexico, the US southeast, and Mesoamerica. They have the ability to cling to precarious locations on trees and rocky outcrops. A minimal root system means they can survive easily on even a small piece of bark! They do not require soil in order to survive, are easy-care and low maintenance. Tillandsia typically produce a brightly colored flower.

Tillandsia
One of our recent acquisitions from Akatsuka Orchid Gardens

The Volcano Queen orchid

If you’re on the Big Island during the months of April and May make sure you check out the Volcano Queen orchid. This orchid only blooms once a year and is the gardens’ most famous resident, worth approximately $20,000! The orchid is originally from Thailand and is not a hybrid. It can’t be cloned, so propagation can only occur through division.

Volcano Queen Orchid
Photo credit: Akatsuka Orchid Gardens
Purple orchid
On our last visit we added this amazing purple anthurium to our growing anthurium collection here at Horizon Guest House

Take the time to visit the orchid gardens and you’ll understand why the Big Island is also called the orchid isle!

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Making Paul Hollywood’s rainbow bagels

The British Baking Show (aka The Great British Bake Off) is on constant rotation here at Horizon Guest House. In one of the TV show’s latest episodes the contestants were asked to bake rainbow-colored bagels for their technical challenge. This recipe is a little more work than the average bagel recipe but the vibrant results are well worth the effort. Have fun and celebrate all things Pride! (don’t worry, the food coloring doesn’t change the great bagel flavor!).

You will need five mixing bowls (one for each colored dough), two baking sheets (greased and lined with baking paper) and two proving bags. 

Place flour in a mixing bowl, add the yeast to one side and the sugar and salt to the other. 

Add three-quarters of the water and, using your fingers, mix together. Add the remaining water, bit by bit, until all the flour is incorporated. This should give you a rough dough.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5–10 minutes.

Once you have a soft, smooth dough, divide into 5 equal pieces. 

Cover the pieces of dough with a damp tea towel. Working with one piece of dough at a time, turn each into a different colour.

Add 3 pea-sized drops of food coloring onto the dough, then fold up and over the colouring. Knead to an even colour. You may need to add more coloring to achieve the correct level of brightness. Add additional drops one at a time. Place the coloured dough into a greased bowl.

Repeat the process with the other four pieces of dough until you have five brightly coloured pieces of dough. Cover each bowl and leave to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size. 

Turn out each piece of colored dough, one by one, onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to a 8″x 5″ rectangle. Set each piece aside.

Place the orange rectangle of dough neatly on top of the red. Add the yellow, green and blue rectangles, until you have a stack of five layers of dough – red at the bottom, then orange, yellow, green and blue. 

Cut the stacked dough into six 8″ x 2″ wide slices, slicing down through the layers, so each strip has five layers of colour. 

To shape the bagels, lay one of the stacked dough strips on your board and place the palm of your hands at either end.

At the same time, move your right hand forwards and your left hand backwards to twist the dough into a rope about 10 inches long. Pinch the ends together to form a circle and gently roll the join back and forth to seal. Repeat with all the pieces of dough.

Place the bagels on the lined baking sheets, then into the proving bags. Leave to prove for about 20 minutes, until risen and puffy.

While you wait, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) / 350°F (180°C) fan / Gas 6.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the baking soda (this will help give the bagels a shiny, chewy crust).

Plunge the bagels into the boiling water, 2 or 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Cook for 30 seconds on each side, until the bagels puff up and the shape sets. Allow the water to reach boiling point again between each batch of bagels you plunge.

Using a slotted spoon, remove each bagel from the water and place back on the baking sheet (note: if you like you can sprinkle cornmeal on the baking sheet to ensure the bagels don’t stick to the sheet).

Bake the bagels for 25–30 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

rainbow bagel Hawaii Horizon B&B

Serve with your favorite bagel toppings!

Bagels are best enjoyed fresh so if you’re not going to eat them soon after baking it’s best to freeze them. The best way to do this is to make sure to cut them in half first – that way you can put them straight into the toaster from the refrigerator when you want to (no need to hurt yourself trying to saw a frozen bagel in half!).

We hope you enjoyed Paul Hollywood’s bagels. How did your rainbow bagels turn out? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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