Midsummer Night's Gleam

Midsummer Night's Gleam, 7/18/15 by Chris Dacus

Midsummer Night's Gleam

Foster Botanical Garden

Celebrating Midsummer Night's Gleam, Foster Botanical Garden was turned into a magical wonderland with 2500 luminaries  sparkling along the pathways weaving through the garden.

The garden consists of the Upper Terrace (the oldest part of the garden); Middle Terraces (palms, aroids, heliconias, gingers); Economic Garden (herbs, spices, dyes, poisons); Prehistoric Glen (primitive plants planted in 1965); Lyon Orchid Garden; and Hybrid Orchid Display.

Foster Garden traces its beginning to 1853 when Queen Kalama leased a small area of land to William Hillebrand, a young German doctor. A botanist as well as a physician, he and his wife built a home in the upper terrace area of the present garden.

In 1884, the Hillebrand property was sold to Thomas R. Foster and his wife Mary E. Foster, who continued to develop the garden at their homesite. Upon her death in 1930, Mary Foster bequeathed the land and her home to the City and County of Honolulu, with the provision that the city accept and forever keep and properly maintain the (gardens) as a public and tropical park to be known and called Foster Park. At the time, the gardens were roughly 5.5 acres.

Dr. Harold Lyon, the first director of Foster Garden, introduced thousands of new plants and trees to Hawaii, and started its famous orchid collection. Paul Weissich, director from 1957 to 1989, expanded Foster Garden to 14 acres.

The Garden is the inspiration for a line in Joni Mitchell's 1970 folk song "Big Yellow Taxi": "Took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum / Then charge people a dollar and a half just to see 'em."

Foster was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

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