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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 2, 2006

Mister Narcissus is back for New Year's

By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer

Gilman Hu, an expert narcissus cultivator, works on a basket-like formation. This year, he's back at the Academy of Arts to lead his popular workshops on the traditional crab-claw technique.

Advertiser library photo

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A few tips for first-timers who may want to try their hand at crab-claw narcissus culture:

  • Sign up for workshops and classes; experienced instructors will be able to guide beginners through the sometimes complicated process. (See story for classes.)

  • Start with cheaper-grade bulbs because you will make mistakes.

  • Be patient.

  • Bulbs are mainly available through mid-January in Chinatown shops; keep in mind narcissus cultivation takes about 17 to 21 days.

  • Use the proper tools, the basics of which include sharp knives of various sizes.

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    Just as the thundering drumming of lion dances and the abundance of sweet, sticky gau are sure signs Chinese New Year is upon us, so, too are the fragrant displays of narcissus.

    Gilman Hu, otherwise known as "Mr. Narcissus," presents his annual series of workshops, beginning Saturday, on the traditional Chinese practice of cultivating narcissus for displays during the holiday.

    The classes, for beginning and advanced students, will cover crab-claw narcissus culture in preparation for the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrated on Jan. 29. The workshops are sponsored by the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

    Students will learn about the anatomy of the bulbs and preferred cutting methods. Growers use special tools to scar a crab-claw narcissus bulb; this technique causes the bulb to sprout curved leaves which curl into dramatic shapes.

    Over the course of five classes, students will see how the bulbs progress.

    The workshops will be followed by the academy's annual narcissus exhibition, which features both upright and crab-claw narcissus cultures. Current and former students of Hu, as well as students from other narcissus classes in Honolulu, will share the results of their work. The exhibition will also include a bonsai display by the Hawaii Bonsai Association.

    For more information about the narcissus workshops or exhibition, call the Honolulu Academy of Arts at 532-8700. To register for crab-claw workshops, call the Academy Art Center at 532-8742.


  • 8:30-11 a.m. or 1-3:30 p.m. Saturdays through Feb. 4

  • Academy Art Center ceramic studio

  • $35 for new students, $25 for returning students


  • 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 1-5 p.m. Feb. 12

  • Honolulu Academy of Arts courtyards

  • $7 general; $4 for seniors (62 and older), students (13 and older), and military; and free for academy members and children 12 and younger.

  • Also: Narcissus growers who want to display their plants may submit them 8-9:30 a.m. Feb. 11 at the Ward Avenue parking lot. There is no charge for entries. Plants chosen for display will be available for pickup from 4 p.m. Feb. 12.

    Reach Zenaida Serrano at zserrano@honoluluadvertiser.com.