I have learned that plants are amazing. Yeah. Bet you didn’t get that from the title of this blog. Well, we have had two plant “tours” during this trip. The first was around the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the second was today at the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Gardens. This place has around 84 acres of plant life including a waterfall and a bay. The park was purchased in 1978, cleared of all debris and planted with as many species found on the islands as possible. It’s a pan-Pacific garden in that there are plants there that are found throughout the Pacific islands. There are only around 50 indigenous plants in the gardens. The total number of plants in the garden tops at almost 3,000, however. This includes indigenous plants, canoe plants (see previous blog), and plants brought by European settlers.
The garden was originally sugarcane plantations and was cleared out due to the fact that the Hawaiian Islands lost their sugarcane bid due to the high cost of cultivation. Then the Lutkenhouses bought the property and decided to plant a huge botanical garden. The garden is able to grow without fertilizer due to the amount of volcanic ash and high nitrogen concentrations in the rain. The garden is now headed by a man named Shawn who, legend holds, knows every plant in the garden’s name, scientific name, uses, and place in the garden. Talk about being a Kahuna!
We toured around the gardens for almost two and a half hours, taking copious notes in our field books and being thoroughly awed not only by the plants but also by the four Macaw parrots and one Blue-and-Gold parrot that are held in the park. We got a full show by the parrots including them laughing, saying hello and saying all sorts of things that made the group laugh.
Once we finished in the botanical gardens we took a short side-trip to see Akaka Falls, which I’m sorry to report was quite the disappointment. They made a big deal about it, but I’ve seen more impressive falls up at Mt. Baker (sorry, Hawai’i…strike one). Then we took a break to send some post cards and then went home early to pack and get ready for our move to Kona tomorrow.