While winter rages on at home, we hang out in shorts and t-shirts, eat outdoors, slather on the sunscreen and savor every minute of warm sunshine. Although we are surrounded by tropical splendor, today we chose to do a deep dive and visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
We were warned about the steep incline down into the ravine of the gardens. The advice was superfluous as we descended slowly, progress inhibited by the urge to stop every few feet to admire and photograph the exotic flowers we passed. That was only the beginning of the two hours we would spend traversing almost two miles of paved trail through the tropics.
Clearly the flowers were the stars of the show, with their brilliant eye-catching colors and unique shapes. It was easy to keep my eyes moving, constantly looking for the next jaw-dropping display. There was no way I could keep track of the names, so I just enjoyed them for their beauty and enjoyed trying to capture them with my camera.
But in reality, the whole environment surrounding those blossoms made just as much of an impression on me. It was just harder to capture. Palm trees of all kinds hovered overhead, towering banyan trees spread their roots broadly, enormous leaves waved in the breeze. Everything was meticulously maintained, labeled and groomed. A humid, green cacophony of plants.
I learned from a display near the entrance that this garden was the labor of love of Dan Lutkenhouse. He and his wife Pauline purchased the rough parcel of land in 1977, drawn to its beauty and serenity. Once Dan began exploring it, his dream blossomed – to preserve its beauty forever as a garden for others to enjoy. For the next seven years Dan and an assistant cleared the jungle by hand, guided only by passion and a love of nature. It was through the clearing process and laying out the paths that they discovered a three-tier waterfall in the midst of the greenery. After it opened in 1984, Dan and Pauline collected, cultivated and planted thousands of plants and worked with local horticulturists to develop the foundation for the garden we visited today.
More land was later purchased to extend the garden to the ocean’s shore. The far reaches of the path took us to a picturesque overlook where we could sit and enjoy more of nature’s beauty.
There is little more I can add. The photos brag more eloquently than my words can.
As I climbed back up to surface level, I realized that immersion into tropical splendor was more than eye candy. It was an opportunity to slow down. To observe. To dawdle and gawk. To be impressed by nature. That same force that blankets our world at home with white. A beauty all its own, but for today I’ll take this one!
What a wonderful way to spend a winter day! We were in Hawaii many years ago, I think it was fall, and the ginger was blooming, the scent was heavenly.