Whilst most of us are physically confined to a 5km radius from home, that doesn’t mean our eyes (and spirits!) can’t roam wider, and in this instance, across to our neighbours in picturesque New Zealand.
A couple of years back Ian and our construction manager Steve visited New Zealand for the return of the NZ Flower and Garden Show. A surprise highlight during their visit was a trip to the extraordinary Hamilton Gardens, situated a few hours outside of Auckland. Referred to as a “theme park for garden lovers” by designer Daniel Tyrrell, Ian couldn’t agree more – adding “it’s one of the most inspirational places I’ve ever been to.”
Hamilton Gardens is not a botanical garden. Instead, its concept acknowledges that there is a story to tell about gardens, their development over time and across cultures and their use. This concept was conceived in the early 1980’s by Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel and met with significant enthusiasm from city councilors. Some of its inspiration came from the Bundesgartenschau of Germany and other international garden shows, where many differing approaches to gardening and garden design are brought together on one site. The concept has also been compared to a museum, where each garden collection has historic integrity and provides a window into the story of civilisations, their arts, beliefs and lifestyles.
Assistance from the community and from trusts formed to support specific garden developments has been invaluable to the Gardens development. For 20 years the Gardens benefited from the labour provided by Taskforce Green and the pre-employment programmes which subsidised the wages of young workers while they developed skills on the job.
Hamilton Gardens was awarded the prestigious ‘International Garden Tourism Award – 2014 Garden of the Year’ at the International Garden Tourism Network (IGTN) conference in France in October 2014. This annual award is presented to gardens that have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a destination tourism attraction. The Gardens were nominated by World Garden Tourism Council committee member Dr Richard W Benfield (Central Connecticut State University/world authority on garden tourism). Following his visit to Hamilton Gardens in 2013 he said ‘The concept is, by far, the most exciting I have seen in my twenty year career as a researcher in the field of garden tourism’.
The images below were taken by Ian on his visit.
To find out more about these incredible award winning gardens, click here
Certainly one to visit when our world returns to some kind of normality.