The Children's Garden features an abundance of eight different “theme” gardens for children and even adults to admire the artistic talents that plants display. Garden art was designed to enhance the flavor and creativity of the gardens. These gardens include the Pizza Garden, the Animal Garden, the Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden, the Sundial Garden, the Sensory Garden, the House Garden, the Butterfly Garden, and the Boardwalk Garden. Funding for the project came from the Kaulunani Project, the Oahu Urban Garden Ohana, National 4-H Council, the Hawaii 4-H Alumni Association, the Rainbows 4-H Club, volunteers of the Urban Garden Center and in-kind donations from various businesses.
The Pizza Garden was the first garden completed and features plants found on a pizza. The 5-slice pizza (one piece was eaten) measures 15-feet across and includes green pepper, sweet pepper, pineapple, onion, tomato, parsley, basil, and sweet marjoram. Swan daisy was planted for its brilliant yellow flowers. Recycled concrete stepping stones are painted red to represent pepperoni. The crust is represented by painted recycled concrete cores. The slices are separated by aluminum edging. The sign is made from monkeypod wood with the words cut with a router.
What do an octopus tree, leopard tree, and cat's whisker plant have in common? They represent a collection of plants and trees with animal names! The Animal Garden has 45 plants with this distinctive trait. There is the “wild animal” section with the leopard tree, leopard plant, fox tail asparagus and kangaroo plant. Remember the nursery rhyme, “hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock”? There is a dog represented by the dog bone tree; the cat represented by the cat's tail and cat's whisker (there is catnip for accent); the mouse represented by the mickey mouse plant-cat-mouse chase and the hickory dickory dock represented by the hickory tree. The mouse can run and hide like in the nursery rhyme. The sandbox tree, shrimp plant, oyster plant, and octopus tree form part of the “ocean” section. The butterfly plant, the spider plant, spider lily, ant tree, and tapeworm plant create the “insect” section. In the “farm animal” section we can find the burro's tail, pony tail, chicken eye, hogplum, and eggfruit tree. Watching over the garden is Nellie, an eight foot tall giraffe made of iron frame and steel mesh that is slowly being covered over by a creeping fig plant. At its base is the kangaroo fern.
Hawaiian Alphabet Tree Garden is an exceptional garden all by itself. Native Hawaiian trees accent the 13 consonants, vowels, and okina found in the Hawaiian language. For every letter there is a selection of native trees. Trees represented include alahee, hame, kawila, koa, lonomea, naio, ohia, papala, wiliwili, and `aalii.
Hidden behind a careful screen of koa and lonomea trees lies the Sundial Garden which offers a stunning contrast of uniformity and perfection. The garden is a nearly perfect circle 20-feet in diameter with a border of gray arbor stones that surround the two sizes of hardscape material of gravel and pea gravel. The garden has an 8-foot long shiny black wood and fiberglass resin “gnomon” marking solar time. Skillfully handcrafted roman numerals are recessed into concrete blocks to record the sun's travel during the day along points around the sundial. The border is accented with four points NSEW as well as mauka, makai, diamond head and ewa. For the future, instruments that use GPS will reference the Sundial/Compass garden location in relation to schools and geographical sights on Oahu. Distinctive crown of thorns adds shape and color.
The Sensory Garden was started in 2001 and took 12 months to complete and was the first garden to feature a concrete sidewalk. There are two raised beds made from natural rock that measures 32-inches high by 12-feet wide by 42-feet long. A 6-foot wide sidewalk surrounds the beds and connects to the service road. Screened topsoil and peat moss were used to backfill the gardens. Rocks were added as an accent. Plants with smell and touch were planted near the edge. Plants with more unique shape and color were planted in the middle of the garden. A galvanized pipe railing assists physically challenged persons. Two planters mark each end of the garden and will be planted with fragrant plants that can be rotated. Later signs and Braille signs will be mounted.
What makes a bathroom featuring a toilet with a royal flush plant, or a kitchen with a cup and saucer plant, or a garage with sandpaper vine so unique? These are just a few of the plants found in the House Garden. The garden, funded through a grant from Deft, Inc., was started in fall 2002 and planted in April 2003. The theme focuses on plants with house names. The House Garden is divided into five different rooms of plants (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and garage) with each having its own distinct menagerie of plants and garden artwork. The outside walls are red hibiscus and the interior walls are golden dewdrop. People enter first through a gate and walk through a hallway where all the rooms can be seen from the path. A recent addition was a miniature Tutu's House complete with shake roof and pathway.
The Butterfly Garden (formerly called Worm Tunnel) features a 50-foot long curving tunnel that students can enter from one end and imagine themselves inside a worm. A concrete sidewalk was constructed first to provide a low maintenance footpath. The walls are made from reinforcing bars covered with nylon mesh and burlap. Creeping fig was selected to cover the worm. Unique features are a convex mirror placed at the one end worm and as they emerge they see themselves, air holes in the sides, eyes, and antennae. Plants, such as the butterfly bush and butterfly weed, draw moths and butterflies and were planted to enhance their attraction to the garden. Garden art, designed and painted by Urban Garden Center volunteers, are an added feature to this garden.
The Boardwalk Garden (formerly called the Bogwalk Garden) has a unique 180-foot boardwalk constructed to give participants the feel of actually entering and experiencing a bog. Water plants are featured in 12 tubs that line the path. Intriguing trees, ground shrubs, and groundcovers give the viewer a feel for an interesting experience.
The Alika Rabbit Garden theme is adapted from the tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor.