While we were on Kauai, probably the best visit for me was the Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. This park, first established by Joyce and Ed Doty in 1982 was turned into a nonprofit in 1999 and opened to the public. It contains 13 different gardens now, populated with many different kinds of plants, buildings, and (my favorite) over 90 statues. While I enjoyed the flowering plants for their color, and the hardwood forests for the wood they would be producing (as an amateur woodworker), the numerous ,creative and unique sculptures I appreciate for their artistic merit and in many cases whimsical beauty.
We had a guided tour through the park, sitting on an amusement park-like open cart. The guide and his wife have been conducting tours for 17 years, and knew quite a lot of stories about the park. They were careful to point out many of the more interesting aspects as we went along.
Speaking of trees I’ve not seen before, here’s one. The “bottle gourds” are as large as watermelons.
As great as the earlier sculptures were, the next one really caught my eye and imagination. Entitled Mr. Cheesencrackers.
More interesting plants. Courtney is holding an example of the flowers traditionally put over a young lady’s ear, while Joey and the group are looking at a version of cotton. They are staring in the third picture at a Sausage tree.
The pig in the first picture is Mr. Royal Hindness, while the group talking to Seth and Sarah are the Conspirators.
Joey has a Rambutan, one of the many fruits found to Kauai, but not in too many other places. Sarah has another. The yellow flowers in the third picture are about the size of a grapefruit when fully open.
More statues: The baby elephant is having Stage Fright, while the other two are more obvious.
Next are two views depicting the experienced fisherman describing the One Who Got Away to his young and eager listener.
The next garden is a native Kauai village, populated by many sculptures.
The children’s garden is next.
Sarah enjoyed playing in this garden.
The next area looks more like a western US set-up than anything to do with Kauai. The whole area is called “Navajo Country”.
The sculptures are very lifelike in this area, done by extremely skilled crafts people. I especially like the juxtaposition of some of them. The coyote chasing the rabbit above, and the playful fox pouncing on the mouse below.
The next area is bordered by hedges with occasional red blossoms. The area is desert flora. Notice the rooser in the lower picture — they are everywhere!
More sculptures: the paper boy’s bicycle is unique in that it has no spokes. The cat is entitled Silent Pause”.
One of my favorite sculptures is near here, called Valentine
Some of the more exotic plant life (Gwen is our resident botanist — ask her about “moss lawns” sometime…)
In 1982, when they first established the gardens, the Doty’s built their first house on the original 13 acre estate. This house has its own exotic flora and pond. They’ve since built another house, as the estate has grown to 240 acres for themselves, but this house is still in use by those running the gardens. Joyce Doty is still alive, and takes an active interest in the guidance of the gardens, forests and parklands of the estate.
The house sits where it can look out over a promontory at the ocean beyond, but in the garden you only get a glimpse of that view.
There is a boxwood maze, compleet with stone sculptures at the dead ends, and an area above where people can sit.
There are blossoming trees there, as well as Royal Palms bordering the area.
As Sandy and Gwen sat in the covered bench, they looked out on these sculptures. It took a minute to understand the boy’s animation, as the rabbit is not casually spotted (the title for this pair is Lively Encounter). The girl on the swing is also a conundrum waiting for the unsuspecting. You slowly realize that the swing is only half there, with its one rope not even reaching the tree, yet it stands stably for all to see. The sculptor, George Lundeen, named it Hearts on a Swing with pun intended — he met the young model as she sat for this sculpture, but they went on to get married.
A large lake surrounded with a variety of plant life and sculptures came next on our tour.
Above the large pond is a Tea House, complete with rock garden.
A day in the park. Frozen in time in the form of the sculptures. Sarah enjoyed the dogs, but my favorite was the old man and his granddaughter!
The last jaunt was out a long dirt road which topped a ridge leading out to overlook the ocean. We stopped along the way as it is breeding season for the seabirds. Thus they build nests in the pine needles in as protected an area as they can find.
At the end of the drive the ocean spans out before us!
And then its back to the visitor center for some Heavy Thoughts.