U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Dinosaur Garden

I had no idea I'd find myself in Jurassic Park when we signed up for a tour of the Allerton Garden along the southern shore of Kauai. (Allerton Garden is managed by the National Tropical Botanical Garden for the Allerton Gardens Trust.)
I was impressed by the trees even before the guide told us that this place was used for the movie.

Do you remember the movie scene when the kids, Tim and Alexis, were getting strangled in a jeep which fell on the crowns? After they, with help of paleontologist Alan Grant, got out, the jeep fell down on these same roots!

Ficus macrophylla, commonly known as the Moreton Bay Fig, is a large evergreen banyan tree of the Moraceae family that is a native of most of the eastern coast of Australia.

Its common name is derived from Moreton Bay in Queensland, Australia, although it is found elsewhere. It is best known for its beautiful buttress roots, which they say are also known for damaging municipal footpaths.
It is widely used as a feature tree in public parks and gardens around the world in warmer climates such as California, Portugal, Sicily and Australia. Old specimens can reach tremendous size.

The trees on my pictures were planted in 1940s. They look ancient, don't they?

But let me go back to the beginning of the tour.
To get to the Allerton Garden, we took a tour vehicle which drove us along a cliff road and through the Maidenhair Gap. The Gap was carved from rock to create a path for sugar cane trains. Growing on the rock face are ferns which thrive on the moisture seeping through the sides of the gap.

We knew we were in for something special when we saw this view of the bay, the valley and gardens.

The grounds were the mid-1800s summer cottage of Queen Emma, wife of King Kamehameha IV, and the former home of Robert & John Allerton. The Allertons purchased the property in 1938 from Alexander McBryde.

The garden is often called a garden paradise, transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, by a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and an architect. It is surely a masterpiece of garden art.


Isn't it beautiful?


We walked in awe through a series of garden rooms between the Lawa'i Stream and the cliffs of the Valley.

Pools, miniature waterfalls, fountains and statues combined with natural beauty to create a place that I personally didn't want to leave.


There are pools, which have hand-made scallop shells, and are surrounded by the Elephant Ear and Birds'nest Anthurium.

You could see one of these French bronze mermaids in my post "I fell In Love".

Two of them are connected by a 126-foot channel with shallow steps.


The sculpture of goddess Diana is overlooking a lattice-work pavilion.

This pomgranate tree is one of more than 75 fruit trees in a Victory Garden which was planted during World War II and has lychee, pummelo, mango, acerola, African bread nut and star fruit trees.


A grove of swaying golden bamboo was so cool, inviting and serene that I wish I could have stayed there longer.

The history of the Allerton Garden is very interesting.

Polynesians were the first settlers here who arrived aboard voyaging canoes and cultivated taro and built fishponds (the remnants of the ponds still exist).

Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a tropical plant grown as a vegetable food for its edible corm, and as a leaf vegetable. It is considered a staple in oceanic cultures and is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants.

We saw the cascading bougainvillea planted by Queen Emma on the cliffsides.

She also planted rose apples, Alexandrian laurel, mangoes, bamboo, pandanus and ferns, some of which still flourish in the Garden today.

If you visit the Allerton Gardens, say Hello to David, our guide, who came to Hawaii more than 40 years ago on his college spring break and made a home here.



On the picture below, Aristolochia gigantea (Howardia gigantea).
Common Names: Giant Dutchman's PipeBrazilian Dutchman's Pipe

"It is a robust, twisting climber that can grow around a sturdy arbor or a tree up to 15-20 feet tall.
This vine has fleshy heart-shaped leaves and giant two-foot large flowers at least 6 inches wide. The flower is astounding, impressive, strange and sinister in the same time: it looks just like a giant beefsteak. The mouth of the pipe-shaped flower expands to a huge size and is colored with a maroon and white netting effect. In the “mouth” there is a central yellow spot where an opening leads into an enclosed pouch. The back view of the flower superficially resembles a pair of lungs with a canal leading into a stomach-like pouch. The blossom is over 14 inches (36 cm) long. These huge, lemony scented flowers bloom from summer until late winter". (Description of National Tropical Botanical Garden)

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG, is a not-for-profit institution, dedicated to discovering, saving, and studying the world's tropical plants and to sharing what is learned.
Thank you NTBG for the great opportunity to see and learn about this piece of paradise on earth! Yes, I became a member of the Garden.

More sculptures from the Garden are in my post I Fell In Love


  1. Tatyana, what a wonderful tour of the garden and some history. The tree roots of the banyan are indeed intriguing and make for beautiful photographs. The giant Dutchman's Pipe... indeed bizarre but beautiful... nothing quite like tropical gardens.

  2. Just breathtaking!! Those trees are a sight to behold in their own right. Thank you for sharing all of these photos.....everything!

  3. Ok Tatyana, not many things make me jealous but a trip to a Hawaiian garden does it. I even have them listed as the "garden I want to see before I die." Enjoy every minute of your stay

  4. Stop with the Hawaii posts already, you're making me drool. Either buy me a ticket or give me directions so I can drive there.

    But really, don't stop. I want to see more. That wasn't enough :)

  5. Tatyana, this place is really like paradise, so serene and calm. I can understand why some people wish to spend a lifetime there. These are lovely pictures and a feast for my eyes.

  6. Таня!!! ШИКАРНО!!! Да настолько, что надо смотреть и смотреть, рассматривая и в удовольствие и познавательно... Очень тебя благодарю - за создаваемое настроение, оживление интереса к жизни, за путешествия в неведомые прекрасные края, и за твой труд, отдаваемое личное время "на общую пользу"! Обнимаю тебя!

  7. If I'd gone there on college break I probably would have stayed too. Those pictures of the ocean are lovely, with the beautiful colors of the water. I've never seen anything like those tree roots or the Giant Dutchman's Pipe.

  8. What a GREAT place. That Ocean, those trees and plants!

  9. OMGosh! What a totally amazing garden tour you were on! I so remember that Jurassic Park moment. Those trees and roots are HUGE and very artistic looking. The foliage and other things you saw along the way is incredible! Lucky you.

  10. What a dream of a vacation you had. Those trees are really something. Prehistoric indeed. The garden art is special.

  11. What a paradise! I am glad one of the boys was in the picture with the tree!! They are huge! Thanks for a lovely tour of the gardens. Truly a wonderful place to see.

  12. Thanks for that picture of the buttress roots and the person. It REALLY put it in perspective! They're enormous!

  13. I think I am speechless. Just beautiful!

  14. These are stunning photographs! The roots on these trees are so intriguing!
    Thanks for sharing all the beautiful places you visited.
    We went to Waikiki on our HM. a LONG time ago. It wasn't as beautiful as the places you showed. Just another city. Pearl Harbor was interesting, though.

  15. Wow! Those trees are awe inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing your pics.

  16. I just love your profile cute

  17. The buttress roots are awesome... Kids can play hide and seek in those... A nice tour indeed. ~bangchik

  18. WOW! Those trees! I've never seen anything like them. Did you find out whether or not those fig trees produce any edible fruit?

  19. I had to come back by to show my husband the size of these trees. You don't get the full affect until you see a person perched on the roots. It wouldn't be so easy to take a walk in this forest. I've never seen anything so big. And you thought to bring your camera and capture it for us! I'll never get to go and really do appreciate you sharing this with us.

    All the plants are so healthy.

  20. Holy cow, those trees are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your images with us. I really have to go to Kauai!

  21. Tatyana~~ I wonder if the roots on the banyan trees are so dramatically sinuous to keep them from falling [literally] victim to typhoons.

    So did you try poi? I found it to be pretty nasty stuff but I suppose it's an acquired taste.

    The history of Hawaii is quite fascinating, don't you think? Very sad too. It's common knowledge how the native Americans were mistreated as American settlers took over. Few know about the greedy land grabbers and how they displaced the native Hawaiians. The silver lining is their botanical legacy. Beautiful gardens. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Oh how lovely it is there in Hawaii! We were in Maui in 2006, and can't wait to go back in 2011. I love that view overlooking the bay. Fabulous. Did you go to Maui? We visited the Kona Botanical Garden there, and really enjoyed this beautiful spot halfway up the slopes of Haliakala.

  23. Wow, thanks for sharing such a wonderful trip and photo's. You can just imagine a dinosaur rounding the corner!!!

  24. what a beautiful are so lucky to have gotten to see it.

  25. Thank you for this amazing tour, Tatyana. Every aspect of the gardens is so beautiful! I'll need to come back to admire all the photos again:) Have a great weekend!

  26. Dear friends, thank you so much for your wonderful comments!I am so happy you liked this garden.
    Answering qustions:
    Thomas,the figs are 2–2.5 cm (0.75–1 in) in diameter. Although edible, they are unpalatable and dry.
    Robin, yes, I've been to Maui. The Botanical garden there is beautiful.
    Grace, I didn't try poi. Should I?

  27. Tatyana,
    thanks for this amazing tour! Paradise Garden would be an apt name! I love the bamboo grove! Your photos are beautiful, as always!

    p.s. never cared for poi!

  28. I think I need a vacation!
    What a beautiful place...and great photos. :)

  29. Those roots are amazing - wow!

  30. Love your photos of what looks like a really lovely trip. That flower is very unusual and so big. Enjoyed this post.

  31. Tatyana, I enjoyed very much the tour of this wonderful garden. Now I just want to pack up and go there! We had huge Morton Bay figs on our grazing property. The children played hide and seek in the massive roots.
    Wonderfully, interesting photos too.

  32. I can't imagine why you would ever want to stay there. Who wants to llive in paradise anyway? What a breathtaking place. Thaks for posting about it because I would never have had a chance to see it otherwise. Soooo beautiful! Those roots of the trees are unbelievable. I am glad you showed a person because I had no idea how large they were. wow!

  33. Well, nice to view the Allerton gardens through your pictures!

    (Now those are the kind of statues I enjoy seeing.)

    Looks like we both got to see great gardens on our trips.

    Thanks for this post, I had to come back to see it when it meant more, now that we've been to Kauai.


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