Don Blanding’s “My Hawaiian Garden” was where it all began for Tom and Janice, owners and innkeepers of The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. For those that are in the know, Don Blanding played a hand in Hawaii’s local cultural history from his first coining of Lei Day to the Aji-no-moto jingle many of us grew up with. He was known as the “Father of Lei Day”, a poet, cartoonist and commercial artist are just a few hats he wore through his lifetime. Don Blanding was even an E.M.T. back in 1912, saving a little girl named Billie Cassin who would later be known as one of America’s greatest Hollywood icons, Joan Crawford. Don Blanding first came to Hawaii in 1915 until enlisting in the U.S. Army. He would later return to Honolulu in 1921.

The poetry of Don Blanding and “My Hawaiian Garden” would be the bases for The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. The theme of the Inn is reminiscent of a by-gone era of the 1920’s, where Hawaii was just a quiet string of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean waiting to be discovered by the malihini, otherwise known as a foreigner or newcomer. Tom and Janice envisioned creating “My Hawaiian Garden” for their guests. Coming to fruition in 1997, The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono opened its doors to its first guests, sharing the sweet fragrance of jasmine, colorful croton hedges and ginger plants of their Hawaiian Garden.


Poem Goes Like This:

the yard at Old Wailuku Inn

I plant my flowers row on row,
In hope that they will grow just so,
All neat and sweet, but I forget
That while the phlox and mignonette
Are used to garden ways and Know
The proper way that they should grow,
These Tropic Blossoms will not do
The sort of thing I want them to.

the yard at Old Wailuku
yard at Old Wailuku

The yellow allamanda sprawls
In gold confusion on the walls
And in among its flower-suns
The little starry jasmine runs.
The bougainvillea climbs the trees
And flings it tatters on the breeze
All scarlet and magenta-red….
A canopy above my head

yard at old wailuku inn
yard in May 2015

The multi-colored little phlox
Grow here and there among the rocks
Like gay confetti tossed about
In moonlit midsummer’s rout.
The fragile spider lily weaves
A cobweb lace of white

yard at old wailuku inn
yard at old wailuku inn_
yard at old wailuku inn
yard at old wailuku inn

The leaves of croton hedges growing here
Hold autumn colors through the year.
My ginger plants are my delight.
No flower grows so sweet and clean
As wild white ginger blooms. They mean
Hawaii to me. I make a lei
Of them for friends who go away.
All in and out among the blooms
A gray and peaceful Palm-tree looms
Above the flower beds. Its fronds,
are mirrored in my lily ponds Image Frog 01
Where water-hyacinths have grown.

yard at the old wailuku inn

A spiny cactus stands alone
In grim unfriendly prickliness.
I did not like it, I confess,
Until a little timid vine
Of Jasmine started to entwine
The gaunt unlovely plant. They look
Like figures in my fairy-book
(the ugly Beast is quite content
With Beauty’s gentle prisonment)

Entrance at old wailuku inn
Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers line my walk
with flowers, some are white as chalk
A thousand shapes a thousand shades.
The bees make sudden buzzing raids.

yard at old wailuku

Wax begonias grow around
A little rockery where ferns and air plants hang from Chinese urns

There are no days throughout the year
Without some sort of flowers here
In sweet profusion, uncontrolled.
If all their many names were told
You’d weary of the endless list.
No color, tint or shape is missed
In nature’s wondrous gift to me.

I wonder if I have made you see
This sun-lit, moon-witched, rainbow place
of beauty. Just a little space
Quite filled with flowers, vines, and trees,
Walled in with Stone, the haunt of bees
And butterflies and lunar moths.
When you are passing will you pause
Or-if you will-drop in and see
This garden that belongs to me.