The Garden Island of Kauai has been on my bucket list ever since rBr took her family there several years ago. Filled with adventures like surfing, scuba-diving and snorkeling, mountain biking, hiking, and zip-lining through a tropical wonderland, this laid-back Hawaiian location suits a family with teenage boys while satisfying mom’s desire to be surrounded by beauty. This summer aMl followed rBr’s lead and shepherded her own boys to Kauai for an unforgettable week of doing everything that a boy could ever desire on an island paradise, but how does mom get a chance to recharge on her vacation when it’s all about the boys?
Fortunately, teenage boys like to sleep, and aMl took full advantage one vacation morning. Allerton Gardens, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, happens to be located just up the road from the popular Po’ipū Beach where her family was staying. Though aMl went solo, thanks to the magic of smartphones, she was able to share her favorite finds in this national treasure in real-time with her posse. We couldn’t wait to share aMl’s virtual field trip with the greater posse and were delighted that she agreed to share her self-care field trip with us in her own words.
Robert Allerton, from a prominent Chicago family (his father founded First National Bank of Chicago), originally aspired to be an artist.
When that didn’t come to fruition, he purchased an 80 acre parcel of land in 1938 in southern Kauai, which had formerly been a Hawaiian Royal residence of Queen Emma.
His study of and passion for garden design, sculpture (from his many travels throughout Europe) and landscape architecture led to the Kauai property becoming his canvas.
Robert and his partner Gregg (who also studied architecture) designed the master plan and individual gardens which incorporated Hawaiian and new plants they had acquired from tropical Asia and other Pacific islands.
They also built landscape elements and sculptures from “The Farms” estate and sculpture gardens in Illinois.
Robert had a zest for life, his gardens and for entertaining. One of the rooms in the garden, often used for family Thanksgiving gatherings, was also the site of Robert’s infamous dinner parties. International celebrities, dignitaries, and prominent figures in the arts and business were often invited to these lavish celebrations. The attendees were required to be in full costume! Richard Nixon always dressed as a sultan but would not part with his black socks and black dress shoes; John Wayne was another guest on many occasions.
Robert Allerton had hearing difficulty, so the Bamboo Room became one of his favorites. When the wind swept through the towering bamboo, they would knock against each other and he could hear it!
One of my favorites is the Mermaid Room. Everything in this room is very female — the palms and other foliage are scallop-edged, lots of water, mermaid statues, etc. The water fountain pulses at approximately 52 beats per minute which mimics the heart.
If you sit in this room for 15 minutes, your heartbeat will decrease! Even the fountains are full of curves!
Much to the chagrin of the current staff (and development staff!) at Allerton, weddings are not allowed on the property (as Robert was not a fan of the institution). However, social and corporate events can be held at this magnificent paradise. It is a not-to-be-missed stop on your Kauai respite.
Thanks so much, aMl, for taking us along to this restorative garden through your stunning photos. I’ll bet Mr. Allerton’s garden is now on a lot of the posse’s bucket lists. It’s definitely made mine.
September 3, 2014