Friday, August 9, 2019

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden rises grandly from a man's vision

Bromeliad, heliconia, anthurium, ginger, mango, spider lily and more await viewers at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

A gecko suns himself on a leaf, here caught by the camera in silhouette.


Hawaii's familiar upright heliconia is on showy display.
The garden also offers a lovely hanging variety.
Fronds, stalks and stems make
beautiful patterns as you stroll.

At right, Kate Logan, horticulturist and supervising manager
at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, greets Cookie.

A GARDEN in a valley, with a walking path to the ocean..... and along the way a fabulous fiesta of flowers, shrubs, trees, surrounded by abundant bird life, lovely little lizards enjoying the sun, bees buzzing happily, beauty all around.
In 1977, Dan Lutkenhouse Sr. was visiting from the Bay Area when he fell in love with the Big Island of Hawaii and its lush Onomea Valley.  Vacationing with his wife Pauline, he purchased 17 acres without really knowing what he would do with it.
BUT SOON HE HAD a  vision to transform the neglected piece of land.  Says his son, Dan Lutkenhouse Jr., who carried on the project, "When my father first saw the valley, it was an overgrown, virtually impenetrable jungle."

A beautifully laid out gift shop offers unique way to support
the Botanical Garden with handmade and local crafts.

His dad returned to the mainland, sold his 40-year old San Francisco trucking business and moved to Hawaii.  For eight years, he devoted himself to the garden's transformation.
 With assistant Terry Takiue, and two helpers, the four men labored. Today, devoted horticulturist Kate Logan continues Lutkenhouse's dream, which showcases the natural environment and preserves valuable plants.  During the creation, to preserve rare plants and not disturb tree roots, they used cane knives, sickles, picks, shovels and chain saws.  Working seven-day weeks and long hours, they eventually cleared paths through the jungle.  Colleagues and family remember that he'd leave in the morning 
You'll feel as if you've gone down the rabbit hole as you duck
to avoid the garden's thousands of brightly blooming plants.
with a sandwich, his tools and high hopes. The garden opened to the public in 1984 and now hosts more than 150,000 visitors each year.
WHILE IT OFFERS visitors a beautiful, restful experience in nature, its mission is also to educate.  School children learn the importance of conservation on our beleaguered planet. Guests join the move to preserve the planet's beauty, faced with over-population and imperiled resources. Armed with an excellent trail guide and map of the garden's dozens of plants and trees, we meandered. We followed paths leading gently down to the sea, mingling with people from around the world, just as the founder imagined.
Two lovely rivers and waterfalls enhance the 2,500 species of plants, including many endangered species. The ocean coastline hosts mollusk, black crab, endangered sea turtles and the threatened Hawaiian monk seal.
The garden boasts spider lily, ti leaf,
jackfruit, mango, ivory nut palm and more
The sound of water enhances the garden's beauty.

WE RETURNED TO OUR ship after the eight-mile drive back to Hilo, having spent a lovely afternoon being peacefully educated by the fruits of one man's dream. The glorious garden he imagined lives! 
For a few short hours, we were an international link, admiring flowers and plants from the Hawaiian Islands, talking quietly, taking photos, praising the vision of this visionary man with a dream.
And so it came to pass: "If you build it, they will come."

New York at night by Hornblower offers a fine opportunity to view the Statue of Liberty.  

UP NEXT:  Experiencing New York at night is a memorable affair.  No other city, except perhaps Las Vegas, has such glamour, glitz and allure.  But New York has history, too, and water.  Come with us to Ellis Island, Times Square and other famous landmarks, celebrating remembering to explore, learn and live. Catch us each week for a fresh take on travel, the arts, family and nature at  


  1. Florida fauna and flora fansAugust 10, 2019 at 9:45 AM

    Fun flower power story. Love this man's vision.

  2. Beautiful photos and delightful story. Hope to visit.

  3. Branson Beauty SeekersAugust 12, 2019 at 11:05 PM

    Lovely story about pursuing one's dreams..... look at the bounty he shares.

  4. Santa Barbara Sun SeekersAugust 14, 2019 at 11:10 AM

    Such an inspiring tale of following one's vision.��