The Garden is open for visits weekdays 9 am-2pm.
- Beautiful covered pavilion for snacks or lunch
- Perfect for kids of all ages
- Hot and very sunny (bring sunscreen)
- Alika Rabbit Garden
- Boardwalk Garden
- Pizza Garden
- Animal Garden
- Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden
- Sundial Garden
- Sensory Garden
- House Garden
- Butterfly Garden
- Keiki Map available with a “treasure hunt” of sorts at front desk so children can feel even more involved with the trip
Be Sure to Check Out:
The gardening playhouse in the Alika Rabbit Garden was my daughter’s favorite. Buckets and shovels are available for children to “pretend” to plant near a small wooden playhouse. I literally had to drag my daughter away from this only to find a table set for tea party a few yard away, which she might have loved just as much as the gardening house.
Right at the entrance of Kamehameha Highway (after turning in to what appears to be a Home Depot Parking lot) there are large plastic flowers at least ten or fifteen feet high. If you see them, you’re in the right spot. You can continue to drive down the path and park closer to the actual garden, although I parked at the entrance because I was not sure if the short road into the Center was for employees only.
Check in at the front office, an inconspicuous trailer with the Hours of Operation posted along with the 4-H symbol. While the center is free, they need to keep track of guest and you are required to sign a waiver for yourself and any children with you. They will also give a you a map for either yourself or the keiki. The Keiki Map has fun pictures making up a treasure hunt of flowers and plants and gardens for them to point out as you stroll the grounds.
The bathrooms and water fountains are close to the office, so be sure to use them then before you are fully immersed in your visit.
Just past the handful of trailers used for offices, classes, and gardening tools storage, is a small maze of flowered hedges. Right away my toddlers was running through them and to my delight, stopping to smell every single flower.
Soon we saw a large rainbow marking the entrance of the Children’s Garden. At this point, my daughter naturally declared that it was time for a snack, although we had only been there for all of twenty minutes. Luckily, there was a large beautiful covered pavilion that was the perfect spot for a snack in the shade. Be sure to bring plenty of water.
The first thing we saw was the Alika Rabbit Garden, a keiki-sized trail that tells the story of the Hawaiian Adaptation of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor. Along the trail are wooden signs telling the story, and charming educational pit stops. One such stop prompts children to think about what plants need to grow next to a covered box. Inside the box is a wooden sun, water, and a list of vitamins, making the answer tangible even for children who are not reading yet.
Still further on the Alika Rabbit Garden was a wooden gardening shed with shovel, pails, and child sized rakes for children who might wish to “plant.” My daughter probably could have spent the entire three hours there as she was having so much fun putting dirt in the pails with the shovel, and moving them from the ground, to the flower box, and back to the table.
When I finally tore her away from the gardening shed, there were more play areas, one set up for a garden tea party, and another with a scare crow to dress. If that was not enough, there were tunnels, stepping stones, bird houses and vibrant flowers lighting our path every step of the way.
Behind there Alika Rabbit Garden there was an exhibit that was still being constructed, so we headed over to the Boardwalk Garden, which as you might expect is a boardwalk-like path through plants, bushes, and trees and more. Sometimes in the hustle bustle of urban Honolulu, it is wonderful to walk through a beautiful garden of thriving tropical plants reminding you why we’re “lucky we live Hawaii.”
One of my favorite features of the Children’s Garden was the Pizza Garden, a larger than life circle shaped garden separated into triangles, just like a pizza pie! Each triangle features a plant likely to be found on pizza, including tomatoes, green peppers, and your traditional herbs and spices. The circle stepping stones looked just like pepperoni for a nice finishing touch. For older children who might believe pizza grows out of a delivery box, it can be quite fascinating to get back in touch with nature.
The rest of the Children’s Garden is equally beautiful and fun, for children as well as adults. The Animal Garden features 45 different plants named after animals (leopard plant, for tail asparagus, cat’s tail, catnip, etc.) The Hawaiian Alphabet Garden uses Native Hawaiian trees for the 13 consonants and vowels in the Hawaiian language, and the Sundial Garden provides the perfect opportunity to talk to children about how we our ancestors told time before clocks and watches.
The Urban Garden Center recommends bringing your sneakers, sunscreen, and a water bottle for your trip. In addition to those three necessities, I would also make sure the keiki wears loose fitting, cool clothing they can get dirty so they can feel free to have all the fun the center has to offer.
For more information, visit the Urban Garden Center’s website: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ougc/