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.

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 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 the past 46 years.

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.

Friends’ support may be characterized by two efforts:

(1) Staff and direct garden programs and

(2) Community outreach.

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 and Japan; 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 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 taken over for the staff office. Purchased miscellaneous mechanical devices not on City budget (e.g. a compressor).

Community Outreach: Presented hundreds of educational meetings, seminars, classes and workshops; guided thousands of school children and adult groups through the gardens; led almost 300 field trips to the neighbor islands and O’ahu; conducted tours to western European gardens, New Zealand, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands; presented 9 ethnobotanical exhibits, ‘Flora Pacifica’, hailed as top educational projects; supported the publication of the award-winning ‘Na Lei Makamae’; held over 60 plant sales which raised funds and brought people into Foster Garden.


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