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Kauai Gardens
by Dianne Kochenburg

Swan in the Koi pond
I was lucky enough to make another trip back to one of my very favorite islands this past spring. My daughter Karen and I stayed at the Kauai Beach Club resort, a guilty pleasure if there ever was one. Nice rooms, good food, delicious Mai Tais. What more could a girl want?

We decided that since we were on the Garden Island, we would wander around some of the many formal and informal gardens scattered around the island. Both of us are avid gardeners, so it was a great idea. The picture above is of the resort gardens, which were uniformly lovely. But the true focal point is the lovely Koi pond in the center of the hotel. You can see swans like this one every day, and a couple of Nenes, which I think they pay to hang around. Koi are everywhere and look like piranhas when the caretakers feed them.

The Kiahuna Plantation, a resort over on the Poipu side, has a huge succulent garden that any visitor can stroll thru. Some amazing plants there. This one appears to be on steriods, like most of the other plants and flowers we saw during our week of rambling around numerous gardens. We recognized so many plants and were always amazed at their size.

One of the most fascinating gardens we visited was called the McBryde Garden, which is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Take a look at their website ( www.ntbg.org ). There are several of these gardens on the island, we visited the one near Koloa. They do scientific research with the goal of conservation and restoration of tropical ecosystems.

This particular garden is divided into three groups: native species, which were growing on the island prior to the Polynesian settlement; canoe plants, which are the plants that the Polynesians brought with them from Bora Bora maybe 1500 years ago, and lastly, the plants that came afterwards with the missionaries and others since then.

This garden isn't like the formal gardens we would visit the rest of the week, instead we were treated to seeing these plants growing in their "natural" settings. We hiked along paths of natural woodlands, with streams gushing, up and down hillsides, over bridges, and along a forested stream. It was really an adventure. So pretty.

We noticed these white orchids growing around a tree along one of the paths.

A bit off the beaten path on the way to the north shore, look for the Sculpture Garden. Tours are suggested but you can wander around the entrance and see some lovely things if you are short on time. This is a more traditional, formal garden, but lovely, nevertheless.

Coleus on steroids!

various tropicals!

Up in the hills above Kapaa is a Hindu temple that allows visitors to wander through their gardens. These last photos were taken there. It was a rain drippy day so everything was especially green and lush. We enjoyed the moment there, along with a handful of other visitors who had heard about this lovely hidden garden.

If you are interested in touring the gardens of Kauai, when you get to the island, pick up one of the free tourist guides for information on seeing them. Most have daily tours, not too expensive, and there are maps with driving instructions. They are easy to find and well worth it. There will still be plenty of time during the day for a swim and a Mai Tai.

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