Located in the heart of metropolitan Honolulu, this 13.5-acre tropical garden is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens system. The garden traces its origins to 1853, when Queen Kalama leased a 5.5-acre parcel of her land to German physician and botanist Dr. William Hillebrand. He introduced many new plant species, developing what has become the oldest botanical garden in Hawaii. In 1884 Mary Mikahala Robinson Foster purchased the property, nurturing and expanding Hillebrand’s plant collections. Upon her death in 1930, she donated the property to the City and County of Honolulu to be preserved for the public’s enjoyment.
Further developed by successive directors Harold Lyon and Paul Weissich, the garden today is home to 23 historic trees (identified as Exceptional Trees), richly planted terraced gardens that feature palms, gingers, and heliconias, and thematic gardens that include a Prehistoric Glen, Butterfly Garden, Economic Garden, and the Orchid Conservatory. The garden also contains several memorials and sculptures. Along with Lili`uokalani Botanical Garden, Foster was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.