The website invites all members of the campus community “to participate in garden projects so they might learn about native plants, history, and the host culture, while getting their hands in the dirt, finding new ways to spend time in nature.”
The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has launched an online map of the many gardens on campus. The Gardens at UH Hilo website gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the campus with a marker on each of the the gardens. Click on the marker and a photo and description pops up.
There are many instructional gardens across UH Hilo’s campus, some for cultural awareness, and others for hands-on agricultural experience. The website invites all members of the campus community “to participate in campus improvement and garden projects so they might learn about native plants, history, and the host culture, while getting their hands in the dirt and finding new ways to spend time in nature.”
UH Hilo Botanical Garden
First up on the list is the UH Hilo Botanical Gardens created some thirty years ago by Emeritus Professor Don Hemmes, a retired biologist who still maintains the lush displays he founded.
“I started around 1990, almost 30 years ago,” he says. “When I first came here, it was to teach botany. I was teaching the life cycle of a pine tree, and one of the students in my class raised her hand and said, ‘What’s a pine tree?’ She had never seen one, so I planted the first pine trees over here, and it just got out of control.”
The botanical gardens were carved out of a once overgrown gulch alongside the UH Hilo residence halls. Paths were built through the conifer trees for the students who had never seen a live pine. Planted nearby are close to a hundred species of cycads from Africa, China, North and Central America and Australia. “They look like palms, with names like sago or king palm, but they are in no way related to palms,” says Hemmes.
Individuals or groups are invited to visit the garden. For more information, contact Prof. Hemmes.
Other gardens on campus
Also featured is the Life Sciences Native Forest Māla, located in the quad outside the Life Sciences Buildings. Graduate students in the tropical conservation and environmental science program, along with members of the Biology Club plant and tend the gardens.
The Kīpuka Mala is located at the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. Work Days are held twice monthly to start new projects in the native gardens.
Outside the Edwin H. Mookini Library, gardens are planted as part of the university’s agricultural curriculum to teach about sustainable agriculture.
Take the tour!
Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.