Categories: Botanical Gardens, General Gardening, Photos
Would you visit a garden in a volcanic crater? We did! Koko Crater Botanical Garden in Honolulu is a remarkable desert paradise. It sits in an extinct volcanic crater on the southeast corner of Oahu, near its larger, more famous neighbor, Diamond Head. It’s too dry for orchids at Koko, but there’s plenty of tropical desert beauty. These tough plants feature architectural shapes, brilliant flower colors, and pointed defenses. A few spiky cactus photos start this Koko tour.
This blooming crater is part of Honolulu Botanical Gardens. It’s a public park with free admission, open daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can hike a 2 mile (3.2 km) loop trail through 60 acres (24 hectares) of desert plants (bring water for the walk!) The hot, dry regions of Africa, Madagascar, the Americas, and, of course, Hawaii are featured in different sections. Other collections include Koko’s huge plumeria trees, which sport more colors of of these flowers than I’ve ever seen.
Many of the garden’s plants are rare and facing extinction, like two endangered Hawaiian species in the next row of photos: a red hibiscus from Kauai, and a fascinating wiliwili tree in bloom. The endangered Dragon’s Blood Tree in the third photo is native to a few islands in the Indian Ocean.
Koko is a great showcase for interesting, low-water garden options. Of course, many of these tough desert plants need more sun and warmer temps than we can provide on the Northern California coast, but others are hardy enough to survive outside the tropics. There are always lots of gardening options, even in California’s current drought emergency. Just look to Koko Crater Botanical Garden for inspiration.