Moir Garden, a Hawaiian succulent garden


My one-year-old granddaughter Domino is already a seasoned traveler. She obtained a passport not long after birth and had it stamped for Tunisia by three months. Her parents are committed vagabonds, so her budding wanderlust is no surprise. Recently Domino visited Poipu, Kauai, where her mama introduced her to her own beloved childhood vacation destination in a quiet agricultural region that was the site of the first major Hawaiian sugar plantation in 1835.


At this former sugar plantation, where Domino’s papa Mitch says the “shutters and louvre doors are all still teak and smell of deep tropical wood oil,” a 35-acre botanical garden envelops the vacation bungalows. Created by Alexandra Moir in the 1930s, when the sugar plantation her husband managed was still thriving before the decline of the industry in the 1990s, the garden surprises visitors by featuring not lush tropical plants but cacti and succulents. Say what? Yes, it’s true, there are dry microclimates in the Hawaiian Islands, and Alexandra wisely recognized that the usual tropical palette of plants would not thrive in Poipu, which averages 28″ of rainfall annually (USDA zone 11). This private garden was opened to the public in 1954.

Mitch says “There are easier warmer beaches to visit, and more modern resorts with more plentiful staff. But the time travel of vintage teak and old-Hawaiian lawns tugging at the roots of 60-foot monkeypod trees is harder and harder to find.” 

There is very little information on the making of this garden, though in its heyday in the ’30s and ’40s it was considered one of the ten best succulent gardens in the world. I found a brief mention of Alexandra’s brother-in-law bringing plants back from travels abroad but no other details on the making of the garden. You’ll have to enjoy the photos narration-free. And if you’re ever in Kauai, you now have a succulent garden destination. Admission is free. Aloes, agaves, cactus, euphorbias, all the usual succulent garden suspects in an otherworldy setting among lava rock, bromeliads, and willwill trees (Erythrina sandwicensis).

Moir Garden aka Pa’u a Laka, or “skirt of laka,” named after the Hawaiian goddess of hula

(all photos by MB Maher.)

This entry was posted in garden travel, MB Maher, succulents. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Moir Garden, a Hawaiian succulent garden

  1. Well isn’t that wonderful, thanks to you and Mitch for sharing. Little Domino is a lucky girl.

  2. Kris P says:

    Wonderful photos, Denise. My thanks to Mitch. I love Kauai and Poipu. My husband and I used to go to Kauai every year before the inner ear disorder that causes him to experience vertigo put an abrupt halt to air travel in 2008. I miss it. I agree with Loree – Domino’s a lucky little girl!

  3. Jerry says:

    All said, that is a pretty lush succulent garden. Spent some time on Molokai a few years ago. It’s a similar, dry climate where cacti and succulents would do very well. Thanks for a walk through something different. Looks and sounds like a place I would love to visit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *