If you’re travelling around New Zealand and you like gardens, visit Hamilton. Hamilton Gardens won International Garden of the Year 2014 and it’s still growing.
The wonder of Hamilton Gardens lies in its layout. It has many different collections of gardens within it. I’ve already blogged about the Paradise Collection (and in particular the Italian Renaissance Garden,) so this time I’ll be focussing on the Fantasy Collection.
Enter through the Tropical Garden. On a sunny day you’ll be dazzled by colour and succulent smells. Luscious greenery frames a long pool. Cross the bridge and pass under the archway…
You’ll find yourself in a circular courtyard with many more archways; many paths to choose from. A certain set of bronze sculptures serves to remind you that you’re in a fantasy world…
Choose one arch and you’re in the Tudor Garden; another and you’re in the Chinoiserie Garden. The Tudor Garden is a blend of history and fantasy: a period building and hedge patterns surrounded by poles, on the top of which perch various mythical beasts. The Chinoiserie Garden is a recreation of what eighteenth-century Europeans thought Chinese gardens looked like – a sort of Oriental fantasy. It’s possibly the least interesting garden in the complex.
Here’s a picture from the actual Chinese Garden (in the Paradise Collection…)
Next to the Fantasy Collection, which has more gardens under construction, is the Productive Collection. This includes a traditional Maori garden, an enormous vegetable garden, a herb garden and the charming Sustainable Backyard.
The Herb Garden is beautiful, but probably not anything you haven’t seen before.
The Sustainable Backyard is a quirky working garden showcasing many interesting ideas.
Hamilton Gardens is free to enter. It’s got other collections, as well as a café overlooking a lake. Well worth a visit anyway. I go all the time.