Foster Botanical Garden

by Artemio V. Gaoiran Jr.

Do you want to visit a museum of tropical plants collected nationally and internationally, or do you want to spend a peaceful and serene picnic with someone special? Well, there are five different botanical gardens located on the island of Oahu. If you are passing by town in the midst the busy city of Honolulu and you are restrained by the traffic, you should visit the Foster Botanical Gardens. You will find yourself an exhilarating change from the chaos of the city.

Nestled in the midst of concrete buildings is a botanists dream come true, and the Foster Botanical Gardens is located a couple of miles away from the busy city. It is easy to reach there. If you are coming from the airport, you should head east on the H-1 freeway towards Honolulu. You will pass a Loves Bakery Factory on your right. The Bishop Museum is located shortly after the tunnel. Couple exits down, you will see the "Pali" cutoff. Take that exit and turn right on Nuuanu Avenue at the stoplight. As you proceed towards the next stoplight, you must turn right on Vineyard Boulevard. Before you reached the entrance, there is Chinese temple, which is located on your right side, called Kuan Yin Temple. There is a sign of King Kamehameha, which is a landmark of different places in the island of Oahu. If you pass the Nuuanu Stream, you have missed the turn into the Gardens. If you are approaching from the Diamond Head side, you should take H-1 freeway and exit on the Vineyard Boulevard off ramp. Then proceed the same route as the Pali cutoff. If you suddenly end up lost, don't worry because there are many fast food stores and clothing centers or even a gas station to direct you in the right direction. Hawaii's people are very courteous towards our tourist. Tourism is the number one economic endeavor, which provides wealth to our economy.

Queen Kalama, who leased a small area of the land to William Hillebrand, once owned this area. He was a young German doctor, a botanist by trade as well as a great physician. Mr. Hillebrand built a home for himself and his wife in the upper terrace area of the garden, which are towers of magnificent trees that were planted by him. Mr. Hillebrand later sold the gardens to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Foster who added and continued to develop the garden. The most significant sight the gardens presented are numerous different types of tropical plants from all over the world brought to Hawaii. The Gardens main mission is to plan, develop, curate, maintain, and study documented collection of tropical plants in an ascetic setting for the purpose of conservation, botany horticulture, educators and passive recreation. (Gardens Brochure 3) The Garden is a favorite place for weddings and photo taking, so don't forget your camera.

As you enter in the gardens, there is gallery and bookstore for your convenience. If you want to purchase souvenirs or different books about the gardens, you will surely find it there. While you proceed towards the entrance, you can hear the birds chirping, feel the warm and gentle trade wind breeze. There is a tour guide to help you on your visit. The Garden hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The general admission are $5.00 for 13 years and older, $3.00 for residents of Hawaii, and children 6 to 12 years old for $1.00. Youngsters 5 years and under are free if an adult accompanies them.

There are six different areas of special interest the garden presents to the public. First, The Lyon Orchid displays a collection of Old and New World orchids species. It is here seeing the beauty of different orchids from all over the world. Second, the Upper Terrace, which were the Hillebrands built their home, is the oldest part of the garden dating from 1853. Third, the Middle Terrace, which is in heart of the gardens, provides different palms, aroids, heliconia, and the strong aroma of the ginger plant. Fourth, the Economic Garden exhibits different herbs, spices, dyes, poisons and beverage plants used in Hawaii. Fifth, the Prehistoric Glen presents primitive plants from all over the globe. Sixth, Hybrid Orchids unveils many different orchids that are blooming in a separate building from all the other orchids.

The most significant feature is the exceptional trees. They are 26 designated "exceptional trees" throughout the gardens. The exceptional trees are protected by the Act 105. This Act requires counties who possess primary control over land development to safeguard the exceptional trees from injury or destruction. For your pleasure, there is a large grassy land where you might want to enjoy a picnic. It is here were you find the beauty of the Gardens because you can hear and feel the sounds of the cool wind breeze and the aroma of a jungle surrounded by different exotic plants and trees. In the garden, a safety precaution is brought to your attention. You should never put any unfamiliar plant or plant part in your mouth, and pay special when you touch any unfamiliar plant you encounter.

If you are in the city of Honolulu and tired of the traffic in the area, or if you want to spend a family picnic day, you should take a drive to Foster Botanical Gardens. It is home of collection of rare and beautiful plants from tropical regions of the world. Most often, the sun shines early in the afternoon, so a bottle of water or a can of soda is recommended. To avoid the heat during the late summer months, you should make it a plan to visit the Garden during the months of February through May. You will find that the Garden brings a pleasurable and peaceful sight to your enjoyment.

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