Friday, July 29, 2011

Free admission at historic Koloa Garden

Take a step back into sugar plantation history with a visit to the Pa’u a Laka Gardens. Plantation Gardens Restaurant

is the site of the original plantation manager’s estate also known as the Moir Plantation Manor. Hector Moir was the manager of Koloa Plantation, the first sugar plantation in the state of Hawaii and his wife, Sandy, started the garden as a hobby. Originally she planted tropical flowers but found that this region of the island was too dry to support these types of plants. As a result, she brought in cactus and succulents that thrived in this environment and the cactus garden soon became famous.

Like most avid gardeners, Sandy found interest in expanding her garden by planting other types of plants and trees, many of which were brought to her from around the world by her brother-in-law. She planted a special section of the garden with orchids and Bromeliads. This section of the garden was later supplemented by generous donations from both visitors and some of the resort’s staff. As a result, there are now over a thousand varieties of orchids, which seem to bloom year round.

Make sure to bring your camera because this garden offers a plethora of photo ops. Numerous lily ponds are laid out throughout the gardens. Some ponds are planted with day bloomers and other with night blooming lilies. If you are lucky, you can watch the night blooming lilies open while sipping a cocktail as a guest at the restaurant.

Many of the ponds are filled with koi fish, and others attract wildlife. Occasionally the rare native Koloa Duck can be found swimming in the ponds. In the evening, the Auku’u or Black Crowned Night Heron, can be found fishing in the ponds. Children delight in the enormous toads that are attracted to the water here.

You may also find a number of historical artifacts as you stroll through the gardens. On the front lawn, you will see the grinding stone from the Koloa Sugar Mill. More recently it is used as a table for champagne toasting glasses and flower leis at the many weddings that are held on the lawn. In the cactus garden you may run across an old rusty whaler’s melting pot that is now used as a lily planter. The whaler’s melting pot is a remnant of the whaling days; Koloa Landing is just a few blocks away, which at that time in history was known as one of Hawaii’s largest whaling ports.

To get to the gardens turn into the Kiahuna Plantation driveway from Poipu Rd. and follow the signs to the Plantation Gardens Restaurant.

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