Thursday, March 8, 2012

Other Gardens: Kula Botanical Gardens

by aleks
Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - ubiquitous in Hawaii Ti plant, good-luck-plant,
technically classified as Cordyline terminalis. There are approximately 20 species
 of Cordyline, which is in the agave family, Agaveaceae.

The McCourd Family started the garden in Kula, on the slopes of Haleakala volcano in 1969 - it informs people what grows at 3,300 feet elevation on Maui -  it was windy, cold and rainy when we got there. At the garden's small parking lot we passed a woman dressed in long pants and long sleeves shirt; by now I was clad in  polartec jacket, too - a piece of clothing i didn't think i'd use until returning to Seattle. She said 'welcome' and I smiled  'it's nippy here';  to which she answered: 'I know,  it's winter;  we LOVE the rain!' I thought her answer was odd, since I didn't mention the rain. It was Helen McCord herself, she said the garden is her labor of love, then casually handed me some piece of paper to pass to the woman at the front desk and drove off...

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - One of the magnificent protea plants:
they come in different color and sizes; photo by Tony

67 degrees F and rain is not exactly what tourists are coming for to Hawaii, but the rain appreciation is deeply shared by all locals we encountered:  the woman at the front desk was nearly dancing from rain joy: 'It makes things grow!  It makes things green!' She happily handed me umbrella together with the garden's map.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - one of the orchids: only 3 are actually
native to Hawaii, although they all grow well here; photo by Tony

Considering how arid huge parts of this young volcanic island are (the last lava eruption was in 18th century), with bare on the top layers of lava along the roads which were cut through it, one can completely understand the rain dance:  the woman with small fruit and veggie stand where we are staying down at the sea level was also smiling while commenting on the rain that day:  it was raining on the entire island her papayas, mangos and beets and cucumbers surely liked it.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - Malaleuca Leucadendra,
PAPER BARK TREE of SouthEast Asia

The Garden itself is quite amazing: 9 acres of paths with some known and some less known plants, a koi pond,  a flowing stream, a palm garden, bridges  and a bird sanctuary.  It is very beautiful and peaceful, albeit a bit confusing in a layout - I can't help but compare every garden I visit to Seattle Japanese Garden, and almost always come to the conclusion that our Garden is simply perfect with its loop design which gives a visitor a sense of completion upon returning to the gate.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - Koi pond

In Kula Garden we were already back at the gate when I glanced at the map and realized that we didn't see a bird sanctuary - nope, not going to go back there in the rain, but what is there, anyway, I asked.  'Oh, you missed it? It's right past orchids, we have  some ducks and nene geese'.  Nenes?  I was out of the gate and now running to the back of the garden in the rain - nenes were reintroduced to Hawaii up in the Haleakala crater, but rather rarely seen at the lower elevations.
Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - ducks. I couldn't get a good pic of nenes,
I saw them, but they were hunkering and hiding  from the rain 

Speaking of birds:  I fell in love with the myna birds - they are so gregarious and everywhere here, they really own this place, yucking up a storm at the wharfs and shop entrances alike, on the beaches and streets. I understand they are very intelligent and can even talk.  I wasn't able to get a good picture of myna bird, but the other day spotted a young boy feeding one from his hand - the myna bird was very well behaving and little by little moved from the balcony rail onto the boy's shoulder.  He turned around and the myna bird was still firmly planted on his shoulder when he started to move indoors.


  1. Cold up on Haleakala, wah, wah, wah.

  2. i know - uh, oh, like 67 degrees:)... there was also a spectacular rain/wind/lightning storm on friday night: the streets were like rivers, we were ploughing through ankle deep in water, umbrella inverted in the wind; and molokai looking like fireworks grand central, exploding with lightnings every 30 seconds or so, all. night. long. i wish my camera was capable of capturing it... i have never seen nature that dramatic.

    1. Reading your description is like being there; better than seeing the picture. :) Wow!

  3. I second Keiko P's comment: WOW! And nominate you to lead field trip...

  4. field TRIP? YES!!! When? i'll lead tomorrow!, if needed! we took 12 hours bus trip to hana, all in the rain.. the only stops we were able to take were bathrooms. arrgh. now i am experienced and will travel:).

    other than that we did NOT swim, hike or whatever the tour promised. we still had fun, though, and learned hawaiian language:poi-poi. now.

  5. 12 hours to Hana? I can get you there faster than that with many stops if you send me a plane ticket of course.

  6. i know you could, rpacht:) and i appreciate that! i really do, with all he 500+ turns you would take me through:) ... our guide, Lehua (isn't that a name of the flower that looks like a pom-pon?) well, she was very smart and made it all about the trip itself, instead of 'getting there' - she drove us around the island. it was fun! we hiked some and visited a winery. banana wine!


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