Indian Char Bagh Garden

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

Indian Char Bagh Garden

The ‘char bagh’ or ‘enclosed four part’ garden has been one of the most significant types of traditional garden. Between the 8th and 18th centuries these gardens spread throughout the Muslim world from Asia to North Africa to Spain. They were the original ‘Paradise Gardens‘.

4 part garden

The complex symbolism behind this form of garden has its very ancient roots in three of the world’s great religions – Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. A small hunting palace near Agra, called Lal Mahal, has inspired the Hamilton Garden’s Char Bagh garden.


American Modernist Garden

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

American Modernist Garden

Modernist style was an international phenomenon, not just a 20th century American  tradition. Its gardens are focused on relaxed outdoor living, a perfect match to sun soaked, upwardly mobile California. Sunny yellow outdoor chairs, raised deck-like forms, water features and popular culture murals set the scene at Hamilton Gardens.


Design of modernist gardens is usually related to the use of the garden and they are often dominated by elements like swimming pools, barbecue and outdoor eating areas. There is usually a strong visual and practical relationship between house and garden. The plants used in the Modernist garden were usually native to the local area and this garden is based upon the designs by Californian designer Thomas Church (1902 – 1978) with plants from the south-west of the USA.

Italian Renaissance Garden

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

Italian Renaissance Garden

In the 15th and 16th Century the cities of Italy experienced an unprecedented flowering of arts and sciences, which included the art of garden design and the science of horticulture. Powerful families built magnificent gardens around their grand country villas as symbols of their prestige. The garden was a place for entertaining and impressing guests with its grandeur


There were influences of Greek and Roman antiquities and here in this garden is a  copy from a mould of the original 5th century Capitoline wolf with Romulus and Remus. Influences of a Medieval garden is seen too with elements from that earlier era retained such as the high surrounding walls, flat square beds with edges lined with plants, beds of simple flowery meads, and the arched trellis-work.  The major difference in the Renaissance gardens was the introduction of a strong central axis, a framework for a classical order of perspective, proportion, symmetry, and geometric forms, circles and triangles.

Japanese Garden of Contemplation

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

Japanese Garden of Contemplation

Fluid echoes dance –

Ripples of sun and water

Hold dreams in the eaves

~ Vonnie Hughes, Auckland (winner of the Hamilton Gardens Japanese Poetry Compettion 1998

Japanese Garden of Contemplation

Japanese Garden of Contemplation

A Pagoda

A Pagoda

Take time to contemplate the carefully laid out arrangements from your seat in the Abbott’s Quarters and watch your mind relax as you view the serene landscape. This is a garden that embraces contradiction in all its forms: you will see contradictory pairs such as movement/stillness, complexity/simplicity, vastness/ smallness, and even wet/dry.

English Flower Garden

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

English Flower Garden

The style which inspired the English flower garden at Hamilton Gardens is the Arts and Crafts of the nineteenth century, commonly referred to as ‘gardens of a golden afternoon‘. Unfortunately for us this was a rainy morning and more appropriate for sitting in a tea-room supping a hot cuppa!


The romantic garden is brought to life by the creation of ‘outdoor rooms’, paved pathways and flower borders leading to quaint arbors  and seats. There is also a sunken lawn with a pool and fountain in the centre with paving leading away to the various plant compartments. This was the least interesting garden for me, not because it isn’t beautifully done, as it is, but simply because I get my fill of these styles of gardens all the time in the UK. I hadn’t come all the way from England to see an English Garden. I wanted to see something different. But please enjoy the delicacy of this fragrant spot. And have a rest on that coveted Lutyens bench.


Chinese Scholar’s Garden

This garden is one of the Paradise Garden Collection at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and follows on from my previous post.

Chinese Scholar’s Garden (Yichang-Yuan)

The tradition of the Chinese scholars building dates back to the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century. For them, gardens were havens for relaxation, meditation and the cultivation of the spirit. The Chinese garden portrays a miniature of the cosmos. In it are ‘mountains’ and ‘hills’, ‘rivers and ‘lakes’, ‘cliffs’ and ‘chasms’ following the Taoist tradition. Take your time to wander up to the bold, red Ting Pavilion. A winding journey takes you over the seasonally blooming Wisteria Bridge, across the Island of Whispering Birds, past the elusive Hidden Philosopher, and through lush bamboo to finally reach the Pavilion and its breathtaking views of the Waikato River.


The Chinese Garden is a tapestry of convoluted trees, rugged rocks, water, windows – watch out for contrasts: light and shade, shadows and reflections, sounds and scents, heights and depths, mountains and waters, yin and yang.

Garden Portrait: Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton is New Zealand’s fourth largest city and is located about 2 hours drive south of Auckland in the centre of the Waikato region. The Gardens are quite famous and deservedly so as they are unique. It won the International Garden of the Year award in 2014. The garden is alongside the Wakaito River which provides a stunning backdrop to some of the collections. Entry to the gardens is free.

The ‘story of gardens‘ is explored through five collections of gardens. [source of text is from the information plaques in the gardens]

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Productive Garden Collection

Gardens representing different aspects of the relationship between people and plants.

  • Te Parapara Maori Garden (above)
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Herb Garden
  • Sustainable Backyard Garden

Fantasy Garden Collection

Gardens representing different forms of garden fantasy.

  • Chinoiserie Garden
  • Tudor Garden (under redevelopment at the moment)
  • Tropical Garden

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Cultivar Garden Collection

Gardens featuring plants selected and bred for the garden.

  • Rogers Rose Garden (see separate post)
  • Rhododendron Lawn
  • Hammond Camellia Garden
  • Victorian Flower Garden
sexy bexy

Sexy Rexy

Landscape Garden Collection

Gardens representing different historic interpretations of an idealised landscape.

  • Bussaco Woodland
  • Valley Walk
  • Hamilton East Park Cemetery
  • Echo Bank Bush

Paradise Garden Collection

Gardens representing some of the most significant garden design traditions.

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Given we only had a limited time to explore and that the weather wasn’t in our favour being quite showery, we concentrated on the Paradise Collection, each of which will be posted individually otherwise this will become a very long post!

Hamilton Gardens: Rose Garden


It was raining as I entered Rogers Rose Garden in Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand. Not great for taking photographs as I was constantly wiping the lens, but the scent was perfect. This must be one of the largest rose gardens I have visited. It may seem a bit odd for an English person to seek out a rose garden abroad when we have so many gorgeous English roses, but I love roses and I was keen to see what the Kiwis did with them.

And I am glad that I did. The birds sang despite the rain. The flowers nodded their heads and the rain-drops dripped gently – this was a summer rain, soft and wet, not cold and heavy. It settled like dew upon the velvet petals. The garden was a kaleidoscope of colour. Continue reading