New Canoe Plant Garden Opens Within McBryde Garden

By Hawaii.com Team

McBryde Garden in Lawai, Kauai. Photo: National Tropical Botanical Gardens.


Walking through the new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden at National Tropical Botanical Garden is akin to taking a few steps back in time.

The new garden was blessed January, 17, 2018 in a ceremony that gathered more than 200 people in a freshly finished hale and near a new hula mound, where the celebration took place.

“The hale is important. Everything that it is made with came from here,” said Chipper Wichman, head of NTBG, as he welcomed the crowd. “The garden helps us visualize how our people of Hawaii lived in a sustainable way.”

Please visit the National Tropical Botanical Gardens McBryde Gardens website at ntbg.org/gardens/mcbryde.

Canoe Plants in the Spotlight

A crowd of around 200 people came out to celebrate the opening of the new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden at National Tropical Botanical Garden on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Photo: Jessica Else/The Garden Island.

Planted along a path that crosses one of the streams in McBryde Garden, the Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden features more than two dozen plants brought to the islands by the Polynesian voyagers.

‘Olena, ‘auhuhu, ‘awapuhi and kalo are just a few of the plants in the garden, all marked with signs that state their Hawaiian name, their English and scientific names, and a paragraph of history.

All of it is mirrored after aspects of the Native Hawaiian forests and the way Hawaiian canoe plants were traditionally grown — such as the lo’i that are situated just behind the hula mound.

Modeled After Ancient Terraces at Limahuli

Terraces at the MyBryde sister garden, Limahuli. Photo: National Tropical Botanical Gardens.

“The loʻi is modeled after the terraces in Limahuli Garden,” Wichman said.

The archaeological terraces at Limahuli Garden are 700 years old and show how Native Hawaiians cultivated kalo, or taro.

Residents Happy and Inspired

Dominee Maurer and Eve Neibel read the informational signs in the new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden at National Tropical Botanical Garden on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Photo: Jessica Else/The Garden Island.

Walking through the garden was inspiring for Lihue resident Dominee Maurer, who said she’s working on her own version of a canoe plant garden at her house.

“I want to bring authentic origins to my garden and what an experience to come here and learn,” Maurer said. “I’m inspired.”

In addition to plants, a star compass has been created in the middle of the walkway just in front of the traditional hale. The star is made of smooth, rough-stained concrete and has Gemini flat cut brass lettering indicating cardinal directions.

The 28 historical Hawaiian navigational markers and a brass bird are laid into the center.

Eve Neibel, of Lawai, volunteered at NTBG 15 years ago and remembers the land before the canoe garden was created.

“We used to clean pots in the recreation center so they could do things like this,” she said. “I’m so happy to see this place come to fruition.”

There are more opportunities to see the garden starting today, as NTBG is celebrating with free McBryde Garden tours through Jan. 24, 2018.

This story has been adapted from New canoe plant garden opens at NTGB by Jessica Else, originally published by The Garden Island on January 19, 2018.

Please visit the National Tropical Botanical Gardens McBryde Gardens website at ntbg.org/gardens/mcbryde.

See also: National Tropical Botanical Gardens

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