This morning I left the family behind at the house and made a solo trip to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden just north of Hilo. I had barely pulled out of the driveway when I saw this arresting sight ahead of me:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more brilliant rainbow. You might think the photo above has been tweaked in Photoshop, but the colors were every bit as vibrant. Could there be a better omen for a day of exploration and photography?
The drive to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden took 40 minutes. My GPS didn’t recognize the street address, 27-717 Old Mamalahoa Highway in Papaikou, so I simply followed the “Scenic Detour” sign to Onomea Bay.The garden is impossible to miss.
Describing itself as “a beautiful garden in a valley on the ocean,” Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is the labor of love of one very dedicated man, Dan Lutkenhouse, and his wife Pauline. The Lutkenhouses bought the completely overgrown 17-acre parcel in 1977 and spent the next eight years clearing the property and removing the junk that had been dumped there, including old cars and appliances. The garden opened to the public in 1984 and has been continually expanded and improved since then. Now a non-profit organization, it is considered to be “the most beautiful accessible tropical jungle garden in the world.”
I spent three hours braving the stifling heat and mosquitoes and took several hundred photos. I will have a dedicated post after I return home, but here are some samples to whet your appetite.
Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’
Beehive ginger (Zingiber spectabilis)
Torch ginger (Etlingera elatior)
LEFT: Philippine orchid (Medinilla magnifica)
RIGHT: White bat flower (Tacca integrifolia)
Creek downstream from Onomea Falls
In many ways Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden reminded me of the Garden of Eden Arboretum in Maui, but it has an even larger variety of tropical plants and the setting is even more spectacular.
Check out my two detailed posts about the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden: