1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
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3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, A Nature Preserve and Sanctuary at Onomea Bay, Big Island of Hawaii

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 18, 2013 · 42 comments

By the calendar, here in the northern hemisphere, it’s the first day of Spring in two days which is why today’s weather forecast for Philadelphia is disturbing: snow and the dreaded “wintry mix” with about an inch of accumulation expected. Really? And those daffodils in Rittenhouse Square? What about them?

I’m using my store of memories from our recent trip to Hawaii to try to propel myself into a sunnier frame of mind. I thought maybe a blog post about the Tropical Botanical Garden outside of Hilo, Hawaii on the Big Island would help blast me from my “shouldn’t winter be over by now?” funk.

Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse, the founders of the non-profit Garden, had the space hand-carved out of 37 acres of dense tropical jungle. Visitors descend down a steep hillside on a boardwalk and winding trails to the shore of Onomea Bay. Neither Steve nor I are ardent horticulturalists, so I expected the two hours our tour gave us at the Garden to be over-long, but we found ourselves captivated by the intense flowers, foliage and setting for the entire time. Here are some of our visual memories:

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

Not a Deciduous Tree in Sight

The colors are riotous.

Heliconia, Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

Tapeinochilos ananassae or Indonesian Wax Ginger

Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

Orchids, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii


And there’s fauna too.

Waterfall, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

The environment is dripping.

Water is key to the environment.

Leaves, Hawaii Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

Even the leaves are colorful.

 Leaves, Hawaii Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

At the bottom of the garden, awaits the seascape of Onomea Bay.

Onomea Bay, Hawaii Botanical Garden, Hilo, Hawaii

Onomea Bay

Okay. I feel better now. Outside my window, it’s gray. But, in my mind’s eye, I’m in a tropical botanical garden.

If you enjoyed this post, it is now part of a blog “round-up” about nature travel on the Green Global Travel blog. There you can find posts by other bloggers inspired by this theme.  This post has also been shared on a German travel blog hop about “islands”, Travel World On-Line. This must be a popular one. I also shared it on Noel Morata’s photography blog.

What do you do to awaken your senses during a bleak winter’s day? 

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti March 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Beautiful photos! We lived on the island of Oahu (Hawaii Kai) for just a little over a year way back in 1978. We were married there as well. We’ve been back a couple of times, we love the Maui and the Big Island. And you’re not alone, it was 34 degrees when we got up this morning. :o(


Just One Boomer March 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I really should know better than to expect spring to really spring in March, but every year I get my hopes up. Thanks for your comment.


Azucena March 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Yes! beautiful photos and much needed to carry us over the never ending winter! Makes one dream about some day visiting the Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii…


Steven Albelda March 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Awesome pictures!


Just One Boomer March 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I had an excellent assistant 😉


Lucretia Coleman March 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm


Great photos! They DEFINITELY awaken my senses. Between your photos and my artwork I can pretend that it feels like spring!


Just One Boomer March 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm

You’re lucky. When you’re an artist, you get to choose the colors in your world!


Leora March 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Nice to escape with some warm, tropical photos on a bleary day. The sun came out this afternoon, so I took my daughter to the park for her snack. We only sat there for a few minutes, but I felt better than I did this morning.

Love the orchids and the twisted branches in the last photo.


Just One Boomer March 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

We’ve been blessed with some sunshine this afternoon too. Maybe my blog post woke up Mother Nature and she realized that the Mid-Atlantic states needed a dose of sunshine.


Susan Cooper March 20, 2013 at 6:21 am

Aw… I love to find those little moments of escape to something wonderful that was experienced in the past. I get that about dreary days and needing to get on with spring. Spring in full swing here in CA and I am loving it. I also loved your pictures.


Jeri March 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Great photos! I’ve started to get spoiled by mild southern winters, but that will soon come to an end when I move back north. In large part, weather is simply a state of mind, but I do love it when I can finally sit on the porch and soak up some sun.


Just One Boomer March 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I keep trying to tell myself that I should just “embrace the weather” (i.e. it’s a state of mind), but that’s getting harder and harder to do as I age. Right about now, some Spring would be nice.


Kelly Wade March 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Wow how beautiful! This is exactly what I picture the nature in Hawaii to be like. I’ve always wanted to visit the island of this state, and its at the top of my bucket list. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures, it must really help looking at them on cold, snowy days in the north!


Just One Boomer March 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Kelly, Hawaii definitely deserves a place on your bucket list. I hope you make it there in the not too distant future.


Morgan Decker March 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Beautiful photographs! If those don’t help to take you out of your winter funk I don’t know what will!


Just One Boomer March 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Thanks. I need to take a look at them myself. Another gray, cold day here in Philly.


Tina Grau March 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

As I sit here in New Jersey looking out the window at the snow and cursing that western-PA-dwelling groundhog (Ok, really his handlers), I remember my trip to Hawaii 5 years ago. Pineapple never tasted so good, and plumeria are my favorite flowers ever! I also remember my trip, about 15 years ago, to the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney. Hawaii has better weather!


Just One Boomer March 31, 2013 at 1:22 am

Lemme see. Where should I go in February? Punxsutawney? Hawaii? Guess which I pick? Every time! On the other hand, early May? I’ll be in blooming Philly.


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) March 26, 2013 at 4:24 am

I heard someone was threatening to sue Punxsutawney Phil for fraud. His handlers were pretty sure they were kidding — but not positive.


Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden March 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm


Thanks for writing such a nice post. Your photographs are wonderful too.
I have shared it on our Facebook page.

One small thing is the second photo is not a Heliconia, it is a type of Costus called Tapeinochilos ananassae or Indonesian Wax Ginger.

Mahalo again for visiting and for writing about us.


Just One Boomer March 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Thank you for sharing this post. I’m glad you found it. Mahalo also for pointing out my mistake. I have corrected the erroneous caption. I would hate to have all my readers wandering around the world confusing Heliconias with Tapeinochilos ananassae 🙂


Gaelyn April 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

Hawaii has never been that high on my list however you make it look very inviting, more so from cold winter weather. You’ve definitely captured the colors.


Just One Boomer April 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I used to think, “Why bother, the Caribbean Islands are closer (to the east coast of the U.S. where we live)?”, but Hawaii has it’s own vibe and is beautiful.


santafetraveler April 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I love botanic gardens. I try to visit them wherever we travel. I have a yellow orchid just like the one in the photo on my dining table. The miracles of Trader Joe’s!


Suzanne Fluhr April 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Trader Joe’s? Orchids!?!


Donna Hull April 10, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I missed Tropical Botanical Garden on my last visit to Hilo. After seeing your photos, I’m adding it to the list for next time.


Suzanne Fluhr April 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

You won’t be sorry, Donna. It is a magical place.


Linda ~ Journey Jottings April 11, 2013 at 8:21 am

Gorgeous photos 🙂

I live in the subtropics (Brisbane, Australia) where it goes – from hot to cool – Never cold!
But I lived in Wales for 6 years where the weeks of rain did make me feel as though I was living under an army surplus blanket at times – so I understand your opening sentiment!


Suzanne Fluhr April 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

It was hard to take a bad photo at this garden. Our flowering trees here in Philadelphia are finally blooming—a lift for the spirit.


homejobsbymom April 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm

So lovely! I’d love to go to Hawaii but my son is says he won’t because he’s scared of volcanoes lol


Suzanne Fluhr April 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Visiting the volcanoes on the Big Island is amazing. We don’t have mountains around our home town of Philadelphia — let alone volcanoes! Check out the photo we took of the observatories on top of the volcano, Mauna Kea on the Big Island.


Arianwen April 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

This looks a lot prettier than the one in Rio. I think I’d enjoy spending time wandering around there without getting distracted by people watching! I love the lizard…always distracted by the reptiles!


Ashley F April 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

Gotta get myself to hawaii one of these days. So much to do and see and such hospitable people!! nice post


Suzanne Fluhr April 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for your comment. Hawaii definitely deserves a place on one’s “places to visit” list. And, each island is different, so once you get there, there are other theres there.


Nancie August 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Gorgeous photos! I am a garden person, and always visit any gardens that might be in any city or area that I’m visiting.


Jackie Smith August 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

We love everything about Hawaii – and your post has again reminded me why! Beautiful photos.


northierthanthou January 4, 2014 at 2:33 am

Beautiful stuff; I particularly love the lizard.


Michelle April 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Thank you for telling me about this post when you commented. I can NOT believe I missed this considering I stayed right outside Hilo for a month. I was in a Yoga training so that explains it 🙂 I love your photos – especially the lizard!


Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) April 15, 2014 at 3:19 am

This was the best botanical garden we’ve visited in Hawaii. You should definitely try to get there if you return to Hilo.


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