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OUR HISTORY

A SUMMARY

In 1960 the City and County of Honolulu created a new entity: the Division of Botanical Gardens under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation.  At that time there were 2 garden sites: Foster Garden and the Wahiawa Botanical Garden. The Director of the Division of Botanical Gardens at that time was Paul R. Weissich.

 

A year later a group of citizens organized and incorporated a community support group for the gardens: The Friends of Foster Garden. This name was subsequently modified to Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens ( FHBG ) to reflect the expansion of the system from 2 to 5 sites. The Friends’ mission was and is to support the aims and goals of the City garden system, to spread knowledge and appreciation of the world of tropical plants and to support efforts to conserve the threatened Hawaiian flora. That mission has been successfully pursued for almost 60 years. At the first meeting, the program was a display of different plants types from the gardens. FHBG immediately began series of classes, demonstrations, etc. This main drive of FHBG has remained consistent.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Wide ranges of classes, hikes and tours, class demonstrations, workshops, (exact figure not researched, but in the hundreds!).

Lorin Gill off-island trips (85 total), over 100 Oahu hikes.

Participation in local programs: Science Fair, Liberty House promos, Orchid Society;

1962: Cactus and Succulent Show.

1963: Lanais for Living Show.

1964: Flora Pacifica, designed by Jim Hubbard and Paul Weissich as were all succeeding Flora Pacificas: 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1981; plus 1 in Boston in 1966. These earned a number of awards over the years. Thousands of people were introduced to the amazing world of plants. These shows were cosponsored by the FHBG and many community partners.

FHBG has held over 70 plant sales which raised funds, introduced new species and brought people into Foster Garden, Ho’omaluhia and Wahiawa Botanical Gardens.

1961-1963: Constructed Lyon Orchid Garden; brought Henry Teuscher, Director of Montreal Botanic Garden as consultant.

1962: Paul Hutchinson, University of California Botanic Garden, brought in as consultant for garden development, accessions policy; complete development report for Koko Crater Garden.

1973: Fortunato Teho “Plant of the Week” Column.

1973: Self guided tour brochures for Foster and Wahiawa Gardens, which are still in use.

1978: Foster Garden Notes and Wahiawa Garden Notes: training manuals for guides.

 

The City garden system is currently composed of the following: Foster Garden 14 acres; the Wahiawa Botanical Garden 27 acres; Koko Crater Botanical Garden 200 acres; Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden 400 acres; and Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden 7.5 acres. Of critical importance is that these sites provide a range of tropical environments from hot-dry, warm-moist to cool-moist permitting the growing of a wide spectrum of tropical species and enabling Honolulu Botanical Gardens to be recognized as containing the nation’s top tropical collection and a world-wide significant collection. 

 

STAFF AND DIRECT SUPPORT

Funding staff attendance to University of Hawaii classes, educational seminars, conferences and field trips both in Hawaii and across the mainland, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Rio de Janeiro. 

Purchased reference books and periodicals for the Joseph Rock Library (Ho’omaluhia). 

Purchased a great quantity of hybrid orchids to augment the orchid display; funded the import of thousands of new species; funded computerization of approximately 13,000 accession records; purchased the first FAX machines and computerized labeling machine for the gardens. 

Published the first collection Inventory since Rock’s 1907 inventory of Mary Foster’s garden; partially funded a number of collecting trips of individuals and gardens which provided great numbers of new and rare accessions for the collection. 

In 1975 Friends built a classroom and office at Foster Garden which is now used as the staff office.  

Purchased miscellaneous mechanical devices not on City budget (e.g. a compressor). 

 

PLANT IMPORT

FHBG immediately became involved in plant import; this has continued for over 30 years; total accessions 1961-1991, 31,539 seed packets, cuttings, plants, bulbs, orchids, trees, shrubs, vines, palms, aroids, bromeliads, succulents, cactus.

 

In 1963, during the period of redevelopment of the downtown area, the FHBG, through State Senator Mary George, then a Board member of the FHBG, secured the properties at the corner of Vineyard and Nu’uanu, and through that effort, along Nu’uanu Stream to realize the present boundaries of Foster Garden. Her efforts with the Honolulu Redevelopment Agency added 6 acres to the garden.

 

1964: University of California, Berkeley, 7th Andean Expedition: FHBG  was a major sponson; received 4,000 accessions that year all handled by Yamauchi, then a plant propagator, and one other nurseryman plus volunteers. 

 

Hungtinton Botanic Garden’s Baja California Expedition, partial support.

 

Partial and / or major support for various collecting trips: New Caledonia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Philippines, several Hawai’i collecting trips (one of which discovered a new endemic species: Hibiscadelphus Distans, from Kauai). Two Brazil trips by Leland Miyano, Royal Horticultural Society Expedition to Socotra 1967, collecting by Lavranos in Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia, Bayliss, South Africa collections, and many more.

 

In 1972 FHBG funded and produced the first inventory of Foster Botanical Garden since Dr. Joseph Rock’s inventory of the Mary Foster Garden in 1907-08 which listed 145 species.

 

Inventory, designed by graphic artist Momi Cazimero, won a local prize for its artistry, ten original line drawings were produced to illustrate the inch thick book. Over 300 copies were sent out world wide to major botanic institutions.  Supplements followed every couple years or so, which FHBG also sent earlier recipients upon request.

 

The FHBG supplemented Institute of Museum Services Federal funds in 1990 to bring two consultants to Hawai’i for an assessment of living collections at Honolulu Botanical Garden which resulted in the pronouncement that the Honolulu Botanical Gardens contained the richest collection of tropical plants in the United States and one of the largest general collections in the nation. FHBG are largely responsible for funding this effort spanning 3 years which produced this result (see Accessions). FHBG provided over 90% of funding for the collecting programs.

 

1987-1992: FHBG funded computerization of accession records through purchase of a state of the art computer, computer program and professional technician to enter accession data. The program, which has been FHBG funded by approximately $30,000 will continue as needed. In 1999, the Friends of HBG purchased a computerized label making machine to replace the antique label embosser. The staff and volunteers have produced thousand of plant labels.

 

In 1975 the Friends of FBG at the instigation of Founder Lorraine Kuck, held the first in a series of Midsummer Night’s Gleams—a free evening moonlight and candle program, which has been well received by the public and resulted in bringing many people to Foster Garden who had not previously tasted its delicious offerings. During the Gleam it rained. Hard! Lorraine remarked that maybe we should change the name to Midsummer Night’s stream! This is still an on-going project. The 2003 Gleam attracted 3,000 visitors to Foster Garden.

 

In the late 80’s the staff developed a unique photo display called “Ka Lei”, which featured traditional Hawaiian leis worn by Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian models. The successful show was photographed by the staff member, John Eveland and organized by then Director Paul Weissich. “Ka Lei” was partially funded by the Friends of FBG.

 

In the early eighties, the FHBG started a shop at the entrance to Foster Garden. The shop has proven highly successful and has begun to develop as a substantial source of income for the garden projects.

 

In 1987, FHBG began funding for redevelopment of a new hybrid orchid collection at Foster Garden, following a devastating viral infection. This will be an ongoing project.

 

In 1987, through a grant received from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, FHBG arranged for the publication of the History of Foster and Liliuokalani Gardens by historian Dr. Rhoda E. Hackler.  

 

MISCELLANEOUS PROJECTS 

Staff computer training, Hybrid orchid collection augmentation classes, hikes, Neighbor Island tours with Lorin Gill, naturalist. 

1991: Funding for Director Kristiansen for two weeks visitation to Botanic Gardens in England and Western Europe.

1992: On February 29, 1992 FHBG sponsored a seminar on landscaping with Hawaiian plants. 

Natural History tour of Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands with naturalist Lorin Gill in June.

FHBG provided funding for Director Kristiansen to attend International Union for the Conservation of Nature (Botanic Gardens) meeting in Rio de  Janeiro.

Funded travel costs for then propagator Josh Sand to complete field work for Masters Degree at Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia.

Funding for Supervisor Derrick Miyasaki to attend special training at the University of Chicago.

1993: Friends purchased three fax machines for the garden to facilitate transmission of botanical and horticultural records.

1994: Friends of Foster Garden name changed to Friends of Honolulu Botanical Garden to better reflect the organizations sphere of activity.

2003: Publication of Na Lei Makamae (University of Hawai’i Press) Sponsored by the Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens.

 

Probably the FHBG’s greatest contribution to the growth of the garden system has been its establishment of a realization in both the public and in the City Administration that the FHBG is a stable, non-confrontational service group seriously dedicated to serving the people of the Honolulu community and its visitors. It is impossible to assess the value of that image, but suffice it to say that the garden budget has gone from zero to a million and a half dollars per year in 42 years with commensurate staff growth, while garden acreage has expanded from 50 acres on two sites to 650 acres on five sites.  

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Paul Weissich

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Jim Hubbard and Paul Weissich working on a Flora Pacifica display

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Mary Foster at age 16

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2021-22

Executive Committee

Emmy Seymour | President 

Adelaide Kistner | 1st Vice President

Helen Skov | 2nd Vice President

Lana Brodziak | 3rd Vice President

Bill Follmer | Secretary

Charlene Van der Ply-Chee | Treasurer

Board of Trustees

Roxanne Adams 

Jeremy Bush

Patrick Chee

Grace Dixon

Ray T. Higa

Jennifer Higashino

Jackie Johnson

Alexander Kufel

Dave Kumasaka

Alex Loomis

Bob Lormand

Joyce Spoehr

Rick Towill

Alvin Tsuruda

Monica Weissich

Sharon Williams 

Dana Anne Yee

 

Advisory Council

Heidi Bornhorst

Greg Boxold

David Orr

Trustee Emeritus

Mig Gaspar

Leland Miyano

 

Ex Officio: C&C of Honolulu

Nelson H. Koyanagi, Jr. | Director of Budget and Fiscal Services

Laura Theilen | Director of Parks and Recreation

Joshlyn Sand | Director of of Honolulu Botanical Gardens 

 

Staff

Caroline Bond Davis | Executive Director