New, long life for Lydgate logs

WAILUA — Logs which litter the shoreline at Lydgate Park are getting new life at the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

“This one is going to be the base of a 24-foot waterfall near the end of the biodiversity trail which is being created as part of the 50th anniversary of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens,” said Neill Sams while supervising the extraction and loading of about 10 logs Thursday.

The logs will be used to exhibit a number of orchids, NTBG spokeswoman Janet Leopold wrote in an email. 

“The interpretive sign for the exhibit will feature a very interesting story,” she wrote. “Orchids are a great way to understand evolution and the complexity of species interactions.”

When finished, the 800-foot trail will depict 450 million years of evolution of life on the planet. 

“Literally, every footstep on the trail is like walking one million years,” said Andy Jasper, director of the NTBG South Shore gardens, including Allerton and McBryde gardens. 

The trail starts with a mist tunnel made of giant boulders and covered in mosses and lichens demonstrating early forms of plant life.

From there, life becomes more and more complex until the end, where a twisted hunk of metal represents the loss of biodiversity today. 

“We wanted to give people a reality check,” Jasper said. 

Walkers will then enter a “redemption area,” according to Jasper, which features inspirational stories of hope and how gardens around the world are working to improve habitat and make the world a better place.

It is in this section of the Biodiversity Trail that hundreds of orchids will adorn the once-forgotten logs from Lydgate. 

“Orchids are such cool things, so linked to the individual pollinator,” Jasper said. “If a pollinator dies, the orchid dies.” 

Sams is no stranger to bringing life to logs which have been destroyed naturally. A log from Kokee is being transformed into a waterfall enhanced by flowering orchids at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

The waterfall was later transferred to Orchid Alley, where it attracts customers in Kapaa adjacent to the butterfly garden.

Jasper said this project is a collaborative effort between the gardens, Sams, and John Lydgate, whose grandfather is the namesake of Lydgate Park.

“I’ve been down here for weeks,” Sams said. “There are a lot of logs with character. Unfortunately, you need heavy equipment to move them.”

Jasper said in addition to the waterfall feature along the biodiversity path, Sams will utilize other logs to feature more than hundred orchid specimen.

“This is only one project,” Jasper said. “We would like to do more. I would like to see more features which appeal to the younger visitors like perhaps a climbing frame using more of the logs.”

But projects cost money.

“There are sponsorship opportunities for people to get involved in helping to fund some of these projects,” Jasper said. “They can simply call, or email, and we can discuss ways people are able to be a part of these opportunities.”

A camper collecting driftwood for a camping trip watched in awe as the small crane operated by Bradley Jarvis deftly worked its way along the sand, extracting designated logs and quickly moving it to the waiting truck and trailer.

“They should figure out how to get rid of all these logs,” the camper said. “It would be safer.”

Aug. 19 marks 50 years since NTBG received its Congressional Charter. An invitation-only event that day will include a dedication of the Inouye Overloot — part of the Biodiversity Trail — to honor the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who was instrumental in NTBG receiving its charter. 

The event will also feature a planting of a breadfruit tree in honor of First Lady Michelle Obama as well as the opening of the Biodiversity Trail.

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