Peace and beauty in a quiet, green Hawaiian garden

A tropical garden fit for royalty.

Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
Queen Emma's beach at the Allerton Garden in the Lawai Valley of Hawaii is accessible to the public only by water – unless you are there for a garden tour.
Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
The swirling roots of these Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla) hid dinosaur eggs in the movie 'Jurassic Park.'
Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
A mythical faun – counterpart to a statue of a young deer – still plays in a hedged-in garden room once used for al fresco dining.
Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
A scalloped rill in a garden room by a stream is defined by statuary and a fountain.

The Transplanted Gardener had already glimpsed Hawaii’s Allerton Garden several times before his island-hopping vacation and didn’t even know it. You’ve probably seen it, too.

The Kauai estate’s picture-perfect beach [photo above] was a secluded setting in the movie “South Pacific.” Its leggy, snakelike banyan trees [first photo at left] were home to dinosaur eggs in “Jurassic Park.” We caught a glimpse of it in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” And “Fantasy Island” – you know, “Boss, da plane”? That was the Allerton Garden as well.

To paraphrase another movie: It was not Iowa, but it might have been heaven.

The strongest feature of this once-residential garden is in its construction of garden “rooms” – in this case, imposed settings but with mostly native plantings. The Allerton is a green garden, a quiet one, its drama orderly and understated. Ornament and structure are used sparingly, and so to great effect. [See second photo at left.]

The Allerton is also a garden of stone and water, of stability and movement. [See third photo at left.] And when the trade wind picks up in the bamboo grove, it is a garden of gentle sound as well.

Chicago cattle heir and Mayflower descendant Robert Allerton transformed himself from failed artist to premier landscape architect in the carving of this 80-acre formal garden where Hawaii’s Queen Emma once raised taro and rice.

Fifty years ago, the famous photographer and writer Cecil Beaton, writing in Harper’s Bazaar, called the garden “a well-ordered paradise (where) nothing appears artificial, yet nature is so under control that not a leaf is out of place.” It still is.

For more information: The Allerton Garden, 4425 Lawai Road, Koloa, HI 96756. Phone: (808) 742-2623.

Editor’s note: Craig Summers Black, The Transplanted Gardener, is one of eight garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' it. Look for more of what he's written by clicking here. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. And you can access all our Diggin' It blog posts.These are new URLS, so you may want to bookmark them so you can return easily. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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