Sustainability at Shangri La

The recent devastation on the East Coast reminds us that our planet is a precious and fragile resource that must be cared for. Under the direction of Lead Groundsworker Steve Ebisuya, we have been implementing a number of sustainable practices at Shangri La in order to reduce our impact on the environment.

Shangri La's compost pile. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

For starters, we have been composting small leaves and lawn clippings. Groundsworkers water the pile regularly and use an organic fertilizer to help break down the leaves. After 2 ½ to 3 months, fresh compost, rich in humus and micronutrients, is ready to be used to help new and newly transplanted plants get established. The compost, along with store-bought manures, helps to regulate the pH of our soil, and helps plants to absorb nutrients more effectively. Plant and tree clippings that are too big to compost (on average, we generate about a ton every one to two weeks) get trucked to Hawaiian Earth Products, where they’re turned into mulch.

Water from the Mughal Garden channel is used to water the grass and fill the ponds. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Water in the Mughal Garden water channel and waterfall (about 6,700 and 2,000 gallons, respectively) gets recycled each time those features are drained for cleaning. Steve and the grounds and maintenance crew have been using a gas pump to remove the water, which is then used to water the lawn and fill up the Playhouse pond and lily pond. Watering only on alternate days is another way we’re trying to conserve water.

Projects in the works include growing our own red ginger for the living room floral displays and installing automatic sprinkler systems in select areas. We’re really proud of our dedicated crew—Shangri La looks beautiful because of their efforts.

Playhouse Pond & Garden

As always, the grounds and maintenance staff at Shangri La continue to address major repair and maintenance needs in the buildings and the landscape.  Most
recently, they have renovated the Playhouse pond and garden.  The pond area was emptied and decommissioned several years ago after heavy rains and the subsequent flooding of the Playhouse, a building modeled on the 17th-century royal pavilion in Isfahan, Iran, called the Chihil Sutun

Following the removal of a few trees to open up the space and let in sun; the addition of new lighting and landscaping; and the installation of a new pump and filter system,
this area is lovely once again.  This project is a very appealing improvement to
the Playhouse, which serves as home to visiting scholars and artists-in-residence
and also as the venue for most programs.

Playhouse pond & garden before work
Playhouse pond & garden after work

Many thanks to Shangri La’s Facilities & Grounds staff for the wonderful job!