Visiting Kauai’s beautiful Allerton Garden

When we were planning our vacation to Kaua’i I wasn’t sure whether or not I should bring my real camera and computer, as opposed to just using my iPhone.  My thought was that in order to really make this a vacation, perhaps I should leave all aspects of work, including photography, at home.  But right before we left, my good friend Lillian painted the picture of my getting up early in the morning while Dick still slept (which I usually do) and going over the previous day’s photos on a lanai with a cup of Kona coffee.  This was enough to convince me to bring the camera and I’m so glad I did!

This morning, I selected a few of my favorite photos from yesterday’s visit to the National Tropical Botanical Garden.  We took a guided tour of the Allerton garden, which is such a beautiful, tranquil place.  The first few photos were taken near the entrance of the gardens, before the tour began.

You can never have too many plumeria photos, right?

Yum!  Pineapple!

The entrance / gift shop

We started the tour with a bus ride to the garden.  On the way there, we stopped to take a look at what was once the home of Robert Allerton and John Gregg Allerton, farmers and preservationists from Chicago, who purchased this portion of Queen Emma’s plantation in 1938.

Before entering the historic “rooms” of the Allerton garden, our tour guide, Juan, explained the preservation efforts of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and we were able to see some of this work as well as some more breathtaking plant life, like these orchids.

We entered a mist filled area, dedicated to preserving endangered plants, many of which are part of the Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) program.  This is where the NTBG nurtures species that are either endangered, or already extinct in nature.  The “E” on the tag below means an “extinct” designation and the “PEP” indicates that the plant is part of the Plant Extinction Prevention program.

It’s really unbelievable when you think of it – that there are botanists climbing the sides of volcanoes in order to find and preserve the cuttings from plants that have less than a dozen living specimens left.  Some of these plants are propagated naturally, but in some cases, just to keep the species alive, they have had to resort to starting them in labs.  Here’s an example of a plant who’s life began in a lab and who otherwise would already be gone forever.  Crazy!

Next we began our walk through the Allerton garden.  Here are couple photos of a beautiful Jungle Queen (Alpina purpurata) peeking out from between it’s dark green leaves.

Juan, our tour guide, was fantastic.  Here he shows us a Giant Dutchman’s Pipe (or Aristolochia gigantea) and describes the pollination process of this huge flower.  A fly, coated with pollen from the last flower it visited, is lured into the center of the flower by it’s smell, and goes on a one way trip into it’s center.  The hairs inside the flower grow at an angle that only allows the fly to travel deeper into the flower, where it shakes and deposits the pollen.  The fly then must remain trapped inside until the next day, when the flower’s hairs relax and the fly escapes to repeat the process with another.  Crazy!

Diana garden.  Allerton himself insisted that the statues in the gardens be left alone, allowing nature to take it’s course.

A man made waterfall.  There is quite a bit of water movement in these gardens.  The water features in the gardens were designed so that gravity alone moves the water from one room’s fountain to another.  I wonder how many physics classes have come to these gardens to study these water features…

The mermaid room

Juan pointed out the variegation in both the base of the statue and in the plants lining this room.  It really gets you to thinking that there were no accidents here.  Everything was so thoughtfully designed.

We stopped at some ban-yon trees.  Although they look prehistoric, we’re told these trees were just planted in 1941.  This is the spot where a famous Jurassic Park scene was filmed.  Juan jumps in to re-tell the story of the finding of the raptor eggs.

We walked through the beautiful cut flowers garden.  On the left is a Lobster Claw (Heliconia caribaea) and a Pendant Heliconia on the right.

I believe both of the flowers below are part of the ginger family.  The one on the left is an alpina purpurata or “pink princess” and the one on the right is a red tower ginger.

Delicate hanging trumpet flowers

Another stunning orchid