The Outdoor Circle started in France; in 1911, Cherilla Lowrey, Mrs Henry Waterhouse and her daughter Elnora Sturdeon marveled at the splendor of the Gardens of Versailles.
They wanted Hawaii to be a place of beauty and in 1912 the women started the Outdoor Circle.
In the early years, The Outdoor Circle planted the Mahogany trees that line Kalakaua Avenue at Waikiki. Shower trees were planted along Pensacola Avenue and Royal Poinsianas were put along Wilder Avenue.
More was done – including the post-war-years’ ‘Ulu Melia’, ‘To Grow Plumeria’ program. (Loy)
“The Plumeria, before 1947, was primarily used as a graveyard flower; however, The Outdoor Circle wanted to promote an interest in this exotic tree so that It would be planted all over the Islands.”
“Thus the Circle held a lavish festival called Ulu Melia (“To grow plumeria”), in June, 1947 at the McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park.”
“Thousands of cuttings were given away, in order to blanket the hill of Honolulu with Plumeria rather than the unattractive Haole Koa trees.”
“Four hundred cuttings alone were given to Mr. Wilbert Choi of Makiki Nursery for planting in Makiki Valley. Rare cuttings from the Robinson’s on Kauai were sold for $10 apiece.”
“This rare tree, a diploid, was later planted by The Outdoor Circle in the Plumeria garden at Washington Place.” (Star Bulletin, 1977)
“Reminiscent of a Far East garden, plumeria decked Moana park this morning for a scene of bustling activity with Outdoor Circle members and artists completing their flower arrangements.” (Star Bulletin, June 19, 1947)
“The last large event of this kind in the court (of McCoy Pavilion) was the flower show sponsored in 1941 by the Garden Club of Honolulu.”
“Among the thousands who attended, many will recall that the plumeria as the featured flower of that occasion. Its success was spectacular when in huge leis which were draped over the curtain wall inclosing the court and around the great urn which centers the main pool.”
“Plans for Ulu Melia call for a greatly enlarged use of the flower both as a decorative unit and in special arrangements made by groups and individuals.” (Advertiser, June 15, 1977)
“This new effort of the circle is being directed by Mrs Alice Spalding Bowen and her landscape committee. Other members include Mrs Robert Thompson, vice chairman; Mrs Philip Spalding, Mrs Theodore Cooke, Mrs AV Molyneus and the organization’s president, Mrs AGM Robertson.”
“Good will from the Hawaiian Islands came in by clipper today when a Pan American plane arrived in the bay area laden with fragrant leis of plumeria …”
“… the islanders’ way of saying ‘Aloha’ to the mainland as they celebrate their annual Ulu Melia (growing of the plumeria) with a gala flora festival sponsored by the Outdoor Circle of Honolulu.” (San Mateo Times, June 20, 1947) (Photos from Babcock.)