New Zealanders seem to have a great talent for turning nothing (or cr@p) into something. Remember my post about Centennial Gardens in Napier having a previous life as a quarry? (Of course you remember!!! You probably read the post at least five times because it was so fabulously well-written.) Well once again, New Zealand surprised me with its botanical innovation, this time in the form of Hamilton Gardens. I could hardly believe the area was once a refuse station full of the citys’ scraps and rubbish (although I’m sure some of the composty-rubbish would have been brilliant fertilizer).
Hamilton Gardens was created in the 1960s, but not in the style of the usual botanic garden with winding paths and rambling plants and flowers. Instead, Hamilton Gardens is a collection of horticultural displays showcasing history, cultures and art. Currently, there are 23 gardens within 5 collections ranging from classic flower gardens, sustainable gardening displays, fantasy-themed exhibitions, meticulous lawns and even woodlands. I was not able to cover all the collections in my visit, which is a shame but good reason to return.
I managed to get through most of the Paradise Collection which included the English Flower Garden. This was filled with classic perfumes, colourful but demure flowers and refined rambles. But rather than end it there, this garden had quintessential British qualities including hedges, archways heavy with blooms, and stone or brick walls. I felt as though I’d landed in England for the afternoon and really could have gone for a scone and a cup of tea.
Also within the Paradise Collection is the Indian Char Bagh Garden. I cannot explain it better then the Hamilton Gardens website editor who writes “the complex symbolism behind this form of garden has its very ancient roots in three of the world’s great religions – Islam, Christianity and Buddhism“. With the interweaving of religions, there comes strong symmetrical lines and patterns (an OCD sufferers’ delight), and a tranquillity from the quietly bubbling water features. I took time to reflect and meditate with this garden offering more than just a visual delight.
Moving forward to the Modernist Garden, this concept examines the functionality of space to create a visual display. Rather then being rife with botanicals, these gardens tend to have man-made features such as concrete, pools and furniture. I compared this garden to a pop-culture art display. In fact this garden has just a minimal splash of Adirondack furniture (very comfy) lazily positioned around a pool and completed with a large artwork of the Queen of Film herself, Marilyn Monroe. I’m not sure if all Modernist Gardens are like this one, but I felt very Hamptons for a brief time. If only someone had bought me a gin, it would have been perfect.
I have taken you through a brief journey of three of the gardens; there are 20 more to discover! Hamilton Gardens is not your average patch of flowers and even indoorsy types will appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the displays. Take plenty of film (what am I talking about, just take your phone with plenty of memory available), because there are so many beautiful pictures to take. Please leave your rubbish at home.