During my recent visit to New Zealand for a family get together, I had the good fortune to take a run down to Hamilton to visit the gardens. My grandaughter Demelza had visited the Hamilton gardens on a previous trip and encouraged us to make the trip as her mother is a gardening fanatic.
Ayla and Demelza had picked up a Campervan and we were all going to sleep in the van for the few nights that we were in NZ. Varinia and I had to pick the last member of our group up from the airport and so the girls headed off to secure the campsite.
After picking Ce’Nedra up from the airport at around 3ish, we set off for Hamilton. Well I have to tell you that the Auckland traffic is just so congested. It took 23 minutes for us to travel 1 klm from the airport, and then we inched our way down the motorway, nose to tail. The trip to the Glenview Club Motorhome Park Hamilton ended up taking just over 3 hours.
However, once we got there and got settled we headed over to the bar for a few brews to relax and unwind.
We had to get back to Auckland for the reunion later in the day so our time in the gardens was limited. These aren’t your usual botanical gardens. The area features 21 gardens representing the art, culture and traditions in different styles. The gardens are grouped into different collections”
The Paradise Collection which includes:
The Indian Char Bagh Garden
- This is an enclosed four part garden. This form of garden is a representation of the 4 quartered gardens built from the 8th to the 18th centuries by the Mughal aristocracy as a relief from the harsh dry condition experienced in what is now modern day Iran.
- In order to preserve water, the water features of these types of garden are designed to bubble and trickle rather that splash.
- Unfortunately the Char Bagh garden wasn’t in bloom as they are being prepared for the spring planting.
- Demelza had been to the gardens previously and she was there when an Indian wedding was taking place in the open pavilion. She mentioned that it was a riot of gorgeous colour at the time.
- The ceiling of the pavilion is beautifully decorated (unfortunately I had trouble getting a good photo of the ceiling).
- There is a bubbling fountain in the middle of the pavilion.
This is definitely on the revisit list next time I am in New Zealand.
The Italian Renaissance Garden
I’m a bit of a fan of formal structure in a garden, not that I have anything against unstructured gardens. In fact I love all gardens. But I have to admit that I do love this Italian Renaissance garden.
- This lovely Italian garden is based on the garden style of the 15th and 16th centuries which were designed to control and rationalise nature with the high walls and flat square beds that are lined with plants.
- Along with the usual types of sculptures and fountains that you generally find in an Italian Renaissance garden, there is a copy of the original 5th Century Capitoline wolf with Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome.
- We also have the obligatory family photo in front of the fountain.
The Japanese Garden of Contemplation
- The Karesanui or dry landscape gardens are typical of the 14th to 16th century gardens of Muromachi era from Japanese History.
- This garden is designed for contemplation, meditation and study.
- The use of stones, gravel and rocks, with the barest amount of vegetation are reminiscent of Zen gardens and impart a feeling of peace and tranquility.
- There is also an Abbot’s quarters, a pavilion in the traditional Japanese construction, and a slow moving pond.
The Chinese Scholars’ Garden
- The Chinese Scholars Garden is reminiscent of the 10th-12th century gardens of the Sung Dynasty.
- Demelza and I meander along the path and cross over the Wisteria Bridge, past the island of whispering birds, past a hidden philosopher and through the dense bamboo forest until we come to a red Ting Pavilion.
- From here you can stand and quietly contemplate the Waikato River.
The English Flower Garden
- The English garden is designed in the manner of the 19th century Arts & Crafts style.
- The design is simple and natural and incorporates the use of walls and hedges with garden beds planted with a diverse array of plants and they often have spaces with different themes.
The Modernist Garden
- This garden is very minimalist and really didn’t appeal to me. But this is all a matter of personal choice.
The Productive Collection which includes:
The Te Parapara Garden
- The Te Parapara garden is a traditional Maori garden as it would have been before European settlement.
- It demonstrates traditional Maori practices, materials and ceremonies as they relate to food storage and production.
- This information has been passed down through the generations.
- The plants in this garden are grown to be used as resources and also those that are of cultural significance.
The Sustainable Backyard Garden
- Here you can see a garden that has been designed to demonstrate sustainable backyard gardening.
- You can see how to transform a backyard garden into a productive and edible garden.
- Crop rotation is undertaken and most of the available space has been used.
- Bees, chickens, insects and the good old worms play a key part in the sustainability of this garden.
The Herb Garden
- The herb garden has been planted with a variety of plants that can be used for cooking, or for use in cosmetics, perfume, tonics and medicine.
- After all who doesn’t love a dish of lavender pot pourri on the table, or the addition of sage, thyme etc to soups and stews.
The Kitchen Garden
- This garden is planted with vegetables and small fruit in raised beds
The Fanatasy Garden Collection which includes:
The Tudor Garden
- I love the Tudor garden with it’s knot gardens, and its sculptures on striped poles.
- The sculptures are the phoenix, unicorn, griffin, dragon, satyr, centaur, sea serpent and Bottom (from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream).
- I have always been a fan of ordered, structured gardens and so this one really appeals to me.
- These types of gardens would have been used as a setting for plays back in the sixteenth century, and the white stone pavilion would have been where the family and guests would have gathered for sweets and spiced wine.
The Tropical Garden
- Tropical plants have been planted so that hardy plants protect the more fragile plants. After all Hamilton is not tropical and Waikato winters are quite cold.
- There is an irrigation system in place to provide the plants with protection from frost.
- Beautiful exotic plants are grown here – bromeliads, orchids, and palms create a junglelike atmospere.
- Bamboo has been planted in concrete pipes to stop them from spreading.
- You can hear the sound of tropical birds as you wander through the garden. These sounds come from hidden speakers and occur randomly.
The Chioiserie Garden
- Based on concepts of Chinese and Japanese designs with European interpretations.
- There is a pavilion that was modelled on the Chinese House that was built in the Stowe Landscape Gardens in the UK in 1738.
The Concept Garden
- The concept garden is one of the Fantasy garden collections.
- Love the oversized steampunk blimp. It is full of interesting and intriguing items such as industrial gadgets and mechanical steam engines.
The Proposed Fantasy Collection Gardens
- I just have to go back when they open the Surrealist Garden and the 18th century garden amidst the gothic ruins.
- We got a sneak peak of the proposed garden over the hedge.
The Cultivar Collection which includes:
The Rogers Rose Garden
- This garden includes beautiful roses from different periods in history.
- Every year the New Zealand Rose of the Year and the Pacific Rose Bowl festivals are held in the Rogers Rose Garden.
- The garden has been recognised with an Award of Garden Excellence from the World Federation of Rose Societies.
- It is one of 62 rose gardens that have been given this recognition.
The Hammond Camellia Garden
- There is a beautiful Camellia hedge and the garden features a range of beautiful Camellia’s.
- The Camellia is a popular plant in many New Zealand and Australian gardens.
The Rhododendron Lawn
Apart from the Rhododendron lawn, the area features shrubs such as Axalea, Pieris and Skimmia, plus there are a variety of small shrubs represented such as Magnolia and a variety of perennials that thrive in the shade.
The Victorian Flower Garden
- This garden feature plants that are selected for their tropical colour.
- The flowers are on display in garden beds and in glass houses.
- The Victorian garden is different from the other gardens in that there is no attempt made to copy nature. This is simply a garden that showcases the skill of the gardener.
The Landscape Collections which includes:
The Bussaco Woodland
- The woodland is set apart form the rest of the gardens
- It provides a quiet place for reflection and there are viewing spots set around the woodland with views of the river, an outdoor chapel and a ancient looking face statue.
The Valley Walk
- A pleasing naturalistic style of garden using plants native to the Waikato area.
- By using plants that have been selected for their suitability to thrive in the natural ecosystem the need for weeding and the use of chemicals is reduced
- This is such a pleasant walk.
The Hamilton East Cemetery
- This is the resting place of many of the first British settlers to live in Hamilton.
- The cemetery show a natural style of layout which is interspersed with trees, flowers and shrubs.
The Echo Bank Bush
- This is an area of native plants.
- A boardwalk is planned to improve access to the area in the future.
We could have spent a lot more time meandering around the gardens but we just ran out of time. So we head to the cafe to pick up a quick cup of coffee and a yummy vanilla milkshake, and then we head back to the van and the car for the trip back to Auckland.
I highly recommend a visit to the Hamilton Gardens. It’s just full of interesting concepts.