This photo of the grand opening of the Orchidarium Hawaii is from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Oct. 8, 1967. Mayor Shunichi Kimura (left) with Hilo Orchid Society President T. David Woo (right).
The following article was written by Dr. T. David Woo, President of the Hilo Orchid Society, in 1967. In it, he describes the Orchidarium Hawaii, an amazing orchid facility in Hilo. Sadly, the Orchidarium is gone and no trace of it remains.
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The people of Hilo Hawaii take pride in the title “Orchid Capital of the World”. Our varied temperature, humidity and elevation provide ideal growing conditions for all genera and species of the orchid family. Witness the fact that every house in the city grows some type of orchid in the backyard. These proliferated and bloom without much attention or care.
It became logical to us that we should have a central site which could be a showcase for all these exotic blossoms so that the public may come and view them with ease. Thus was born the idea of the Orchidarium Hawaii, which is a complete, compact orchid paradise nestled in a landscaped garden atmosphere. Such a creation would be so unique as to be unparalleled anywhere in the world.
To realize this dream, a number of prominent local hobbyists labored hard and long to make this come true. The site chosen was conveniently located at 524 Manono Street, about three blocks south of the luxurious hotels which overlook Hilo Bay. Visitors may easily find this place which is within walking distance from the hotels.
It is small enough to permit a mass array without detracting from each individual exhibit and it is not too large as to be tiresome and repetitious. What has been generated is actually a “Pearl” in the Pacific which is within the reach of anyone on this earth who wished to see it.
For the tourist, we present a breath-taking extravaganza of color and beauty for you to remember long after you return home. The pictures which you take will provide pleasant memories of your visit.
For the public, we offer a complete and continuing orchid show where you may bring your friends, again and again. There will be periodic changes of displays as the seasons bring forth different varieties into bloom.
For the orchid hobbyists, we share with you the fruits of our effort in creating newer hybrids and other interesting genera which usually only a chosen few are privileged to see.
For the real connoisseur, we give you a parade of awarded plants and prize winning specimen, which everyone dreams of but seldom owns in his collection.
For the amateur orchid fan, we have a place where the fundamentals of orchid culture would be demonstrated to you. You will never go wrong with the new modern hybrid seedling that we recommend.
For the orchid fraternity of the world, we welcome an international exchange of cultural relations with you.
The Orchidarium Hawaii is the headquarters of the AOS award judging for the island of Hawaii and is held on the second Friday of every month at 7:30 PM. It is also the headquarters and meeting place of the Hilo Orchid Society. The beginnings of comprehensive orchid library is also based here.
Brief History of the Orchidarium Hawaii
Hilo is now the second gateway to Hawaii and United and Continental jets land here. To commemorate the inauguration of direct jet flights to Hilo from the West Coast, we staged a Jet Orchid Show on October 1, 1967. There was a preview and reception the evening before where invited guests and local dignitaries were shown through the garden.
The next day dawned bright and clear and with the sounds of jet aircraft overhead, the Mayor of Hilo, the Honorable Shunichi Kimura cut the traditional maile lei that draped across the walkway, symbolizing the grand opening of the Orchidarium Hawaii to the general public. On hand were Miss Aloha Hawaii, officials of the county of Hawaii, Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce, the Hawaii Tribune Herald and officers and members of this new facility for Hilo.
Hilo’s Vanda History
Hilo has always been known as the Vanda country. Most famous has been the V. Agnes Joaquim, millions of which have been shipped for floral use. It was all started in Hilo by Mr. L. Bryan who brought two dozen plants from Singapore to Hilo.
The undisputed queen of Vandas is V. sanderana. Takumi Kono has to V. sanderana plants which received FCC’s. In September, 1952, at New York AOS judging, V. sanderana #7 var. “Kiliwehi’ was awarded an FCC of 98 points. In Florida at the International Orchid Show at Miami (February 1952) a V. sanderana was awarded an FCC. V. sanderana has been used as studs to produce may outstanding Vanda orchids that have been awarded HCC and AM in years past, names like V. Rothschildiana, V. Nellie Morley, V. Judy Miyamoto, V. Onomea, V. Shizue Kanno, V. Jennie Hashimoto, V. Eisensander, V. Ohuohu, V. Janet Kanealii, V. Eisenhower, V. Mabelmae Kamahele.
We support Hilo as the “orchid capital of the world” and extend a aloha to all of you to come and see if we are right or wrong.