Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, July 6, 2001

Peek into Limahuli and three more of Kauai's
"secret" gardens Sunday night.

HGTV takes viewers
on Garden Isle tour

"The Secret Gardens of ... Kauai":
Airs 10:30 am. Sunday on HGTV

By Tim Ryan

Kauai stars on Sunday's Home & Garden Television's "The Secret Gardens of ...", a weekly half-hour series showcasing secluded gardens in America. Each episode features one city and highlights four gardens, a mix of public and private gardens.

Allerton Garden is Kauai's newest garden, a 100-acre preserve with generations of history. The gardens begin at a private beach where endangered green sea turtles nest. For centuries, Hawaii's ali'i relaxed here.

The valley was sold, first to ranchers, and then to Chicago adventurers Robert and John Allerton. Father and son traveled the world bringing back specimen trees, plants and shrubs for the garden.

The second garden featured is at Limahuli, near Hanalei Bay. The discoveries began 20 years ago, when Chipper Wichman began creating a botanic garden here. The property had already been in his family for about a century when he inherited it from his grandmother. Her dream was to preserve and protect it, and share it with people so that they would understand what makes Hawaii special.

The thousand-acre valley had been virtually untouched for generations, but it soon became clear that Limahuli's secrets were ripe for discovery. Over one ridge there were thousands of beautiful blossoms from a hibiscus tree listed as extinct since 1913. Scores of healthy trees grew in Limahuli's valleys.

Limahuli stretches from the ocean to a mountain top. Environmental research is being done in the upper valley so visitors are prohibited here.

One of the best kept secrets in Limahuli Garden is a rare plant called the alula. Wichman had to rappel down Northern sea cliffs to hand pollinate the flower before collecting seeds. Today, more Alula grow in the garden than exist in the world.

The modest entrance to Herbert Alexander's private paradise is almost a tunnel, that leads into a towering jungle.

It now belongs to Dotty and Richard Beach. Dotty's father was a young adventurer when he came to Kauai in the early 1920s. His plantings include 60-foot avocado trees, wild coffee, heliconia, bird of paradise and rare red jade.

The last secret garden is tucked into a cul-de-sac near Kauai's crater-hill bay owned by Joyce Doty. The 10-acre retreat called "Na Aina Kai" -- garden by the sea - includes a manmade lagoon and numerous ti plants and Norfolk pines.

One of the garden's hallmarks includes dozens of sculptures of children, dogs and a Hawaiian woman surrounded by tall hedges forming a maze.

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