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Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Garden traces its history as a garden to 1853 when Queen Kalama leased a small plot of land to Dr. William J. Hillebrand, a German doctor with a love of botany. Botany was part of a young doctor’s training in those days. Queen Kalama was a member of the Kalakaua lineage and had received the land as part of the Great Mahele. Many of the tall trees in the garden today were planted by Dr. Hillebrand. He wrote “Flora of the Hawaiian Islands” towards the end of his life.


Later, Captain Thomas Foster and his wife Mary Robinson Foster purchased the parcel in 1880. They helped the garden to thrive. After becoming a widow, Mrs. Foster became interested in Buddhism and was very supportive of the Buddhist here in Hawai'i and also in Ceylon where she studied. As a thank you for her support, she was given a cutting from the Ficus Religiosa that the Buddha himself is said to have sat under. Mrs. Foster purchased other lands in the surrounding area and in 1916, a consulting botanist drew up an inventory of the plants in the garden. There was a total of 145 species of plants!


In 1919 Mrs. Foster leased two acres of land to the Hawai'i Sugar Planters Association for their experimental station. Dr. Harold L. Lyon was part of this work. Dr. Lyon and Joseph P. Rock identified the plants in the garden and turned the garden into a showplace! In 1925 the lease was extended for twelve more years.  A nursery was added where new plants raised to see if they could survive in Hawai'i, and to see if they could become a new crop for growers so there would be less dependency on sugar cane as a cash crop. The HSPA had contributed over 150,000 plants to this research. 


When Mrs. Foster died in 1930, she left her property to City of Honolulu with the stipulation that it should be named “Foster Park”. The Hawaiian Botanical Society stepped in and supported this Park becoming accepted as an asset to the community. The Park Board offered the HSPA the property and $2,000 a year for maintenance. In October 1931 this offer was accepted.  


Foster Garden was open to the public on November 30, 1931.  The beginnings of a world class orchid collection were started at that time also. Through the following years, the collection was documented and added to.


During the second World War, many air raid shelters were placed on the property. Work was done to formalize water rights, there being an ancient water way (awai) on the property. In 1952 The Garden Club of Honolulu proposed working on a hibiscus garden and an ornamental pool. These additions were presented to the City in 1957. The Outdoor Circle staffed an information station with their volunteer members. They also led tours, and school children learned a lot and then brought back their parents. Something that still happens! Dr. Lyon was working on a plan for a system of Botanical Gardens for the City and County. This would include, at that time, Wahiawa Garden and the Manoa Water Reserve. Paul R. Weissich was called on to develop this plan. This plan was approved in principle by the City Park Board.  


The shape of Foster Garden altered again with the development of the Lunalilo Highway and the widening of Vineyard Blvd. The shifting of properties in the area helped to form what is now the Foster Botanical Garden. The Garden Club of Honolulu and Outdoor Circle continued to provide volunteer support for the Garden. Since 1957 Paul Weissich had been assigned the duties and responsibilities formerly carried out by Dr Lyon. In 1961 Mr. Weissich became Director of the Botanical Gardens (Foster Garden and Liliuokalani Garden). In 1962 the Garden Club of Honolulu supported the concept of a “Pre Historic Glen”. This joined other star attractions, the Palm and Orchid collections. In 1961 a citizen’s group was formed called the “Friends of Foster Garden”. Today, Foster Garden is a first class Botanical Garden. The intentions of Mary Robinson Foster and other far sighted people are being carried out. Annual events in the garden include Plant Sales, The Mid-Summer Nights Gleam and an annual play named “the Beginnings of the Garden”. The Friends also support a Gift shop on Foster Garden.

Features a palm collection, orchid garden, prehistoric glen, and exceptional trees


$5 for Adults | $3 for Residents

$1 for Children 6-12 yrs

Free for children 5 yrs and under

$25 for Annual Family Pass


Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm

Closed Christmas Day (December 25)

and New Year's Day (January 1)

Free Daily Tour | 10:30 am

Information | (808) 768-7135


180 N. Vineyard Blvd | Honolulu, HI 96817 | Google Map

More details of Foster Garden can be found on the City & County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation's website.


Foster Garden Entrance.jpg


Everyday from 10 am to 3 pm

Telephone | (808) 533-6335

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Lili'uokalani Botanical Garden

This 7-acre garden was once part of the Foster Botanical Garden. The grounds were separated when the H-1 went through the Garden. Portions of various estates; Damon, Robinson, and Queen Liliuokalani’s, were included in this quiet area! Waikahalulu Falls and the surrounding area were favored picnic grounds of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawai'i. The garden features native Hawaiian plants in her honor.

Features Native Hawaiian plants,

Nuuanu Stream and waterfalls.


Admission | Free


Open 7 am to 5 pm

Closed Christmas Day (December 25)

and New Year's Day (January 1)


Group Tours | (808) 768-7135

Information| (808) 522-7060


123 N. Kuakini St. | Honolulu, HI 96817

Google Map

More details of Lili'uokalani Garden can be found on the City & County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation's website.


Wahiawa Botanical Garden



Cradled between the Wai'anae and Ko'olau mountain ranges in central O'ahu lies the “tropical Jewel” of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens – the Wahiawa Botanical Garden.  


Like Foster Botanical Garden, Wahiawa Botanical Garden was also a part of the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) experimental program. Started in the 1930’s, this 27-acre garden and forested ravine grew plants comfortable growing at a higher elevation. Trees from this experimental station were often given to the Army’s Schofield Barracks, which gave soldiers shady places on an open plain. The Cherry trees which turn Wahiawa into a pink paradise every spring are descended from plants that were once in this garden.


Your tour will take you among plants that thrive in the cooler upland, shady habitat of this humid tropical rainforest.

Tropical Rainforest, Epiphytes, Tree Ferns, Aroids, Native Hawaiian Plants


Admission | Free


Open 9 am to 4 pm

Closed Christmas Day (December 25)

and New Year's Day (January 1)


Group Tours| (808) 628-1190

Information| (808) 621-5463


1396 California Ave. | Wahiawa, HI 96786 | Google Map

More details of Wahiawa Garden can be found on the City & County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation's website.


Koko Crater Botanical Garden