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Merwin Garden opens at Halekulani

Halekulani, recognized as one of the finest Honolulu hotels, is dedicated to supporting the legacy of our island home. An essential aspect of this legacy is preserving Hawaii’s rich plant life, so we have proudly partnered with the Merwin Conservancy to establish the Merwin Garden on our property. 

The Merwin Garden has been planted in tribute to the world-renowned poet and dedicated ecologist W. S. Merwin. In the late 1970s, the Pulitzer-prize winning poet and two-time poet laureate William Merwin bought three acres of an old pineapple plantation on Maui. Due to chemicals left in the soil and deforestation, little would grow on the land. Yet, little by little, he and his wife began planting trees. With seeds collected from around the world, they grew an entire forest of palms, which is now one of the largest and most important collections of palms in the world. Today the Merwin Palms number about 3000 trees including 400 species, on 19 acres of land on the northern coast of Maui. The land is considered Hawaii’s version of Walden Pond. The mission of the Merwin Conservancy is to protect the land from any future development and to manage the forest, allowing for botanical study.

In recognition of the work of the Merwin Conservancy, we are proud to present Tom Sewell’s remarkable photographs in our Gallery. This collection of stunning images of W.S. Merwin and the Merwin Palms captures the dedication of the poet and the profound beauty of Hawaii and our environment. Tom Sewell is a multi-media artist, designer, photographer, filmmaker and sculptor. A resident of Haiku, Maui since 1989, he received the Annual Award of Excellence by the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists for his “Enigma of the Mill” multi-media installation, and his contribution to the anti-war/peace movement. “W.S. Merwin and his wife Paula have been dear friends for many years,” he says. “William’s palm garden and his writings inspire me. I am honored to present this modest personal collection of impressions and photographs celebrating our friendship.”

In honour of W.S. Merwin and his work, Halekulani is also placing a copy of his book Unchopping a Tree in every guestroom and a copy of Shadow of Sirius, his Pulitzer-prize winning book of poetry in every suite.

While at Halekulani, please visit the new garden, a small reflection of Merwin’s four decades dedicated to preserving palms for future generations.