Sunday, July 28, 2013

Maui: Garden of Eden Arboretum

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been back from Maui for over a week now.

The past six days have been the week from hell: 10 to 12 hour work days, with no time to play. Maui seemed so very far away, almost like a dream. Yet as I was preparing the photos for this post, I felt like I had been there just yesterday. I guess that’s how it often goes with vacations, especially the ones that are so special you will remember them for the rest of your life.

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This post is about the Garden of Eden Arboretum. This 26-acre private botanical garden is located near the Ke’anea peninsula along the Hāna Highway (near mile marker 10.5).

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I spent almost three hours there on day 4 of our trip. I got rained on, suffered more mosquito bites than at any other point in life (over a hundred, without exaggerating) and yet it was one of the most magical places I saw in all of Maui. The guidebooks are ambivalent about it because admission is a fairly steep $15, but if you have even the slightest interest in plants, this place literally is paradise.

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Yes, it was closed when I got there at 7:50am, but the gate opened promptly at 8:00am

The Garden of Eden is the brainchild of landscape designer Alan Bradbury. Development began in 1991 and the garden opened to visitors in 1996. According to their website:

Our goal is to help restore natural ecosystems and promote Hawaii's native and indigenous species. We also feature many exotic plants and trees from the South Pacific region and tropical rain forests of the world. Presently we have over 500 plants botanically labeled.

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Purists would probably abhor the juxtaposition of Polynesian natives with plants from Central and South America, but to me it was the botanical equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Come with me and be seduced the colors and textures of a world few of us get to see on a regular basis.

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Golden trumpet (Allamanda cathartica)

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Screwpine (Pandanus tectorius)

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Puohokamoa Falls

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Zamia furfuracea, a cycad from eastern Mexico

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Bromeliads and ti

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Variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’)

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Anthurium species

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Lipstick tree or achiote (Bixa orellana); the inedible seeds are used to produce annatto, a reddish food dye

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Lobster claw (Heliconia bihai)

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Lobster claw (Heliconia bihai)

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Lobster claw (Heliconia bihai)

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Variegated tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’)

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Variegated tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’)

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Screwpine (Pandanus tectorius) and Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana)

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Screwpine (Pandanus tectorius)

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Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana)

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Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana)

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Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis)

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Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

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Parrot’s beak (Heliconia psitticorum)

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Parrot’s beak (Heliconia psitticorum)

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Rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta), fast growing to 120 ft (!)

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Rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta)

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Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana)

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Heliconia chartacea

Garden of Eden also has a bamboo garden which blew me away. I will have a separate post in a couple of days.

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8 comments:

  1. The name says it all, truly looks like the Garden of Eden. Gorgeous and a treat to see this morning here.

    Hope your workload eases off soon too!

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    1. What made the experience even more special for me was that for the most part I was all by mself. I was the first to arrive and even though more visitors came, I only saw them briefly--the terrain is hilly and the trails weave in and out of the vegetation so it's easy to avoid other people.

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  2. Wow! Any purist who would get caught up in issues of plant provenance here and not just let themselves be carried away by the beauty is obviously, well, dumb.

    For me one of the unexpected joys of blogging about a vacation is that feeling of experiencing it all over again. So even when a hellish week, or five, has you forgetting all about that vacation "glow" you can look through your pictures and recreate that feeling.

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    1. I agree, I had a great time looking at my photos of the Garden of Eden and selecting the best ones for this post. I probably did glow a little afterwards although it could have been from the large glass of wine I was drinking at the same time.

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  3. Gorgeous botanic garden! I just fell in love with Heliconia chartacea.

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    1. Me too! Out of all the plants I saw during our vacation, heliconias were my favorites.

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  4. Finally, a photo of a pineapple! :)

    That rainbow eucalyptus is just *crazy*! I just realized what I miss when looking at photos of tropical scenes: fine-textures like grass. Everything is so leafy, my eye just gets tired. Then I scrolled down and saw some grassy shots -- ah.

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    1. I so wanted to visit a pineapple plantation. For the longest time Maui was synonymous with pineapple. There must still be at least one plantation where they grow the famous Maui pineapples (you can buy them at any grocery store) but nobody was able to tell me where it is. It cannot possible be this tourist trap that everybody told me to avoid: Maui Tropical Plantation. I drove by there twice but I'll be damned if I pay $15 to sit on a silly tram. You're not allowed to walk around on your own!

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