|Allerton Botanical Gardens Kauai
On a recent trip to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands I had the wonderful experience of exploring the beautiful Allerton and McBryde Botanical Gardens while on the Discovery Combination Tour. Located on the south shore of Kauai in the Lāwa'i Valley between the McBryde Garden and Pacific Ocean, Allerton Gardens encompass approximately 80 acres. Allerton was the home of Hawaii's Queen Emma in the mid-19th century and was then passed to the McBryde family. In the late 1930's, the grounds became the estate of Robert Allerton and his son, John Gregg Allerton. On August 19, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson granted a charter to the National Tropical Botanical Garden for the preservation of endangered native species. The site is now maintained as a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and preservation of endangered tropical plants and protection of the world's diverse ecosystems. Encompassed in a world of rain forests, native fruits and spices, hidden waterfalls and Jurassic trees, Allerton and McBryde Gardens will continue to provide a tropical paradise for visitors of all ages.
|Allerton Botanical Gardens: Paradise in Kauai
Often used as a set for movies and television series such as Gilligan's Island, Fantasy Island, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar, this picturesque postcard scene is like a fantasy.
In 2003, NTBG began an ambitious restoration of an area known as Lāwa‘i-kai including the beach and adjacent coastal forest in the Allerton Garden. The project’s first goal was to remove invasive alien plants which had crowded out most native strand plants and had threatened the Hawaiian green sea turtle's (honu) nesting areas. The goal was to create a vegetative barrier to alleviate damage from tropical storms such as the tsunami and two hurricanes that had struck the area previously and to create a stable habitat for a wide array of highly endangered native plants, after removal of alien invaders. The landscape was developed through the study of fossil and historical records to replicate the type of environment that would have existed a millennium ago.
|Alula Brighamia insignis Endangered Plant
Many of the plants, including rare palms, trees, and shrubs native to the island, now thrive in Allerton Gardens. The Alula is one of the garden's conservation successes. Having lost its natural pollinator the species was near extinction. NTBG botanists traveled to steep cliffs to collect pollen and hand cross-pollinate wild plants to generate fruits and seeds for germination.
|Tropical Rain forest
This rain forest and its species resemble the environment a millennium ago during the days of the first Polynesian inhabitants.
|Banyon Tree Aerial Roots
As we walked through the gardens we experienced unusual tropical palms with thick aerial prop roots...
attractive red seeds produced from native palms...
and giant prehistoric looking seed cones produced from native cycads.
|Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior).
This beautiful flower known as Torch Ginger can be seen throughout the island in shades of red and pink. Although ginger is not native to Hawaii the plants in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) grow very well on the islands. The red flowers are more visible but if you look carefully into the brush you may also get a glimpse of the pinks. A much rarer white torch ginger can be found growing in the McBryde Garden above the 'Spice of Life trail'.
The McBryde Waterfall located at the border between the Allerton and McBryde gardens is a must see. This waterfall was featured in the movie 'Pirates of the Carribean' and rightfully so. It is a hidden away treasure in the gardens and its beauty is breathtaking. While touring the gardens, our guide took us through the rain forest to see this marvel of nature.
A wooden bridge crosses over to the beach where we had the rare opportunity to view the nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle (honu), which is being protected by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).
|Lagoon and Palms
Does this Look like a scene from Gilligan's Island? The opening scene to the well known television series from the 1960's was filmed here.
|Education on Plants
Here our tour guide discusses the various native plants and species preserved here in the gardens.
|Pandanus tectorius (Hala Tree)
Above is the Hala tree, which is native to Hawaii. Several parts of the tree can be utilized, but in Hawaii the most common use of Hala are the leaves.The leaves of the Hala tree are woven into various objects such as mats, baskets, hats, canoe sails, and bags. The leaves were also once used to thatch houses and homes for animals.
The Hibiscus is the official state flower of the Hawaiian Islands and means "delicate beauty". In Hawaiian culture it communicates power and respect and is a symbol of old royalty. Traditionally, the flower is worn behind one ear, behind the left ear signifying that a woman is in a relationship and is uninterested in attracting a man, whereas tucking the blossom behind the right ear announces that a woman is available.
|The Moreton Bay Fig (Jurassic Park Tree)
If you have ever seen the movie "Jurassic Park" then you have noticed the very large prehistoric looking trees in many a scene. These are the actual Moreton Bay Fig trees that were used on site for most of the filming.
|The Moreton Bay Fig (Jurassic Park)
I was able to get a picture standing by one of these magnificent and majestic trees so that you could get a feeling of the size of its roots. I felt like I was back in Jurassic time and oh what a thrill!
If this giant Pothos plant looks familiar to you it is probably a common houseplant in your area. Invasive here in Hawaii it grows as a vine on native trees and poses quite a nuisance. When the tour guide tested me as to what is was I couldn't believe the size of the leaves...jungle style!
|Rain forest with Aerial Roots, Philodendron and Palm
These aerial roots are amazing as they cascade downward like ropes from the tree tops. Many of the rain forest plants produce these root extensions to take in more moisture.
Plumeria is not native or Polynesian-introduced but it is one of the most well known and favorite trees in Hawaii. Beautiful fragrant blooms range in color from bright white (most fragrant) to yellow, pink and red. Several beautiful Plumeria trees grow throughout the Allerton garden.
At the end of the tour we viewed the lotus pond with magnificent blooms that could take your breath away. I was able to get this close-up of the flower showing the details of its beauty...just another day in paradise.
This was certainly an experience of a lifetime and I would recommend visiting these magnificent gardens to anyone. I hope to return to Allerton and McBryde Gardens again someday, so for now it's just Aloha and A hui hou...until we meet again.
For more information visit Allerton Botanical Gardens
Visitors Center - 4425 Lawai Road, Poipu 96756
As Always...Happy Gardening!