Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.


Project Name:The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Kailua-Kona Temple
Location:Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i
Client:The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

It has stood the test of time! Landscape architects, designing living gardens, find it important to evaluate their projects to observe the growth of the gardens through the years and if the landscape has served the objectives and purposes for their clients. Recently in April 2012, the landscape of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was observed to have grown magnificently. It was wonderful to witness parishioners walking through the grounds exclaiming how much they liked the landscape and sharing how they have taken many photos of the gardens through the years.

A little history about the project: The Temple was constructed on January 23, 2000 at a prominent location in the center of Kailua-Kona on the volcanic slopes of Hualālai. Being one of only two temples in Hawai‘i, it was built with care and great significance to represent Hawai‘i. At the time it was built, it was the 70th operating Temple in the world. Today, there are 136 operating temples around the world with over 14 million members worldwide. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in Hawai‘i in 1850.

The landscape was designed to represent Hawai‘i through the planting of Native Hawaiian plants and plants recognized in the Hawaiian culture. Circulation was essential to provide access around the entire 10,700 s.f. Temple. The pathway was also a pleasant way to travel from the parking lot to the Church and administration offices. But most of all, it was designed to provide pleasant gathering spaces for parishioners and visitors to sit, get together, and be part of the Church.

The majestic Royal Palms continue to amaze in their grandness and greet visitors properly as if they were royalty! They represent a landscape that connotates its importance in the community. They were planted to help to mitigate and to support the 219 foot tall white marble Temple. The white trunks of the Royal Palms perfectly complement the grandeur presence of the Temple. Beneath the Royal Palms are vibrant, drought tolerant ‘Temple Fire’ and Purple Bougainvillea to mark this impressive entrance. Once in the temple grounds, a pleasant feeling of peacefulness and tranquility prevails.

A traditional Hawaiian landscape was the key of this project’s design, and this was achieved by planting a variety of native species, plants used in the Hawaiian culture, and plants often associated with our tropical paradise. The long functional leaves of the Hala trees seem to beckon parishioners into the Temple.

The Coconut Palms, synonymous with tropical Hawai‘i, are significant palm species utilized throughout the landscape and proudly frame most views of the Temple. The swaying Coconut Palms accent the ocean views from the outlook area, where cruise ships are often seen in the distance. Some Coconut Palms also seem to rise through the Monkeypod Trees as if they are stretching to the heavens.

The gold leafed statue of the Angel Maroni holding a trumpet is located at the top of the spire. It purposely faces East and beckons visitors to the temple to announce the second coming of Christ.

The church, located in Kona (which means leeward), is on the dry side of the island so shade trees were important. Monkeypod Trees, with their umbrella- shaped forms, provide shade from the heat of the parking lot and create the much needed shade for the grass field, while adding to the serene atmosphere. The Monkeypod Trees also provide a cooling effect from the glare of the white marble temple.

The grass fields have profusely grown in like a green carpet. Adjacent to the grass field, is an old moss rock wall at the southern property line, where horses graze nearby. Adding vibrancy throughout, flowering and colorful plants are in their glorious colors. ‘Temple Fire’ Bougainvillea, ‘Kaiser Pink’ Hibiscus, and ‘Parakeet’ Heliconia are examples of the colors in the landscape. Native Hawaiian plants were planted in abundance. The varied shades of the green color of the Hapu’u Tree Ferns planted in the approaching gardens warmly greet visitors to the front Temple doors and are a nice color contrast from the white of the Temple. native White Hibiscus shrubs were planted adjacent to the iron fencing, reminiscent of the historical fences around the ‘Iolani Palace on Oahu. Colorful fragrant flowering Plumeria trees, gingers and gardenias are abundant and green Ti Leaf plants were planted for luck.

A gathering space was designed to allow parishioners to contemplate and enjoy the beauty of the landscape which complements the white of the Temple marble walls. Benches with plant relief designed sides are located throughout the landscape and built-in seat wall planters located in the plaza courtyard garden allow parishioners and visitors a chance to rest and enjoy the splendor of the Temple grounds. The gardens can also be experienced at night. Period designed light poles are located along pathways to create an ethereal atmosphere in the evening.

Many weddings take place on the Church grounds. In fact, one of the first weddings performed was on March 15, 2000 when NFL Hall of Famer, San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Steve Young and Barbara Graham were married.

The feeling of peace and tranquility are often associated with the Temple and the landscape is one of the main elements in evoking these moods. It sets the tone and image for a place of worship and a time for reflection.

As parishioners and visitors stroll through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints property, their pace slows down as they begin to absorb the beauty of the landscape and all that the blessed grounds have to offer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized by Scenic Hawaii for a Betty Crocker Landscape Award of Excellence in 2012.