Hamilton Gardens - Voted 2014 Garden of the Year!


Hamilton Gardens has got to be, hands down, our most favourite place in this city and I cannot rave about it or recommend it highly enough. In the almost four years since we have been here we have spent more days and hours there than anywhere else and we have enjoyed it regardless of the season or weather. Everybody that has visited us here has been treated to a day out at The Gardens and they have all gone away impressed... So I wanted to share it with more of you! It is a visual feast and a sensory delight all year round with so much to see, smell, hear, take in and appreciate. So much more than just a botanical garden, it is a treasure trove of forms, patterns, geometric shapes, architectural beauty, interesting sculptures, colour, cultural diversity and historical information. Unsurprising that it was voted International Garden of the year last year! There are so many different parts to explore and you could go every day for a week and choose a whole different experience each time. Our girls certainly do depending on the weather, the time of day and their current mood and it is a fun adventure every time. 

 Just a few of the delights of Hamilton Gardens

Just a few of the delights of Hamilton Gardens

 In Spring The Gardens are bursting at the seams with beautiful blossoms and the weather is perfect for long lazy days spent picnicking, wandering and just enjoying the visual overload. Summers are full of gloriously bright colours and those hot sunny months - where too much walking around can be tiresome -are perfect for spending time in the Rose Garden, sitting under the shade of the trees or one of the many gazebos, enjoying a breakfast picnic in the sunshine or an early evening get-together with friends. As Autumn rolls around you can see the season changing before your very eyes and this is a wonderful time to explore the woodlands, go on a nature trail and kick up some leaves. The mild Winter here is a blessing for the Gardens and with the abundance of evergreen trees and the variety of plants that are suited to the different seasons, it still remains a lovely, colourful place to visit during the cooler months. Wrap a scarf around you, pop on a hat and just enjoy being outside amongst all the greenery. And even if it's raining, there are the Victorian greenhouses to explore, or just bring an umbrella and splash in the puddles – your kids will love you for it! 

 Beauty and colour to be found at any time of the year

Beauty and colour to be found at any time of the year

Hamilton Gardens is made up of numerous themed gardens and collections that are all beautiful to explore and photograph at different times of the yearYou can click on the name links to see a full description of each one and learn more. 

The Paradise Collection features the following gardens from around the world

 This is my personal favourite along with the Rose Garden

This is my personal favourite along with the Rose Garden

 This garden is bursting with colour and is a very popular wedding spot and photoshoot location

This garden is bursting with colour and is a very popular wedding spot and photoshoot location

 All the children's favourite spot in summer!

All the children's favourite spot in summer!

 A great spot for watching fish, views of the river and seeing the amazing bamboo trees

A great spot for watching fish, views of the river and seeing the amazing bamboo trees

 Smell the flowers or just sit and enjoy the sound of the birds & water features in the walled gardens

Smell the flowers or just sit and enjoy the sound of the birds & water features in the walled gardens

 Pause and relax as you take in the perfectly laid out features here - Simon's personal favourite 

Pause and relax as you take in the perfectly laid out features here - Simon's personal favourite 

Moving on from these, the Productive Collection changes dramatically with the seasons depending on what is currently growing, so they are always interesting and educational to visit: 

 NZ's only traditional Maori productive garden. The kumara harvested are given to local charities and iwi

NZ's only traditional Maori productive garden. The kumara harvested are given to local charities and iwi

 Bees, chickens, vegetables, compost and more - a brilliant example of sustainable principles

Bees, chickens, vegetables, compost and more - a brilliant example of sustainable principles

 An amazing walled garden filled with a constantly revolving array of fruits and vegetables - yum!

An amazing walled garden filled with a constantly revolving array of fruits and vegetables - yum!

 Off the central sundial circle, the herb garden is split into 4 plots - culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and perfume 

Off the central sundial circle, the herb garden is split into 4 plots - culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and perfume 

The Fantasy Collection comprises of gardens that explore the different aspects of fantasy, from botanical, artistic and historical to cultural representations. These are the ones we have watched develop over the past few years and there are very  exciting new gardens planned within this collection.  

 I absolutely LOVE this new garden, and particularly fancy the "Pudding House" for my monthly Pudding Club - not sure if you can actually go inside though

I absolutely LOVE this new garden, and particularly fancy the "Pudding House" for my monthly Pudding Club - not sure if you can actually go inside though

 A lovely spot to sit on a bench or in the shade of the pavilion and watch the kids enjoy the grass

A lovely spot to sit on a bench or in the shade of the pavilion and watch the kids enjoy the grass

Around the other side of the Gardens, the Cultivar Collection features some of the larger areas dedicated to specific plants and themes. Cultural events are hosted on these gardens throughout the year that will appeal to all ages and are well worth coming along to. I will no doubt follow this post up with visuals of these gardens when the weather improves, but will leave you with the links for now. We do however have a special affinity with the Rose Garden... Can you tell?? 

 This is my absolute most favourite spot in Hamilton and it feeds my soul. I could happily spend all day here

This is my absolute most favourite spot in Hamilton and it feeds my soul. I could happily spend all day here

Last but not least there is the Landscape Collection: 

After all that exploring, you can sit and unwind at the Café (if you can find a seat!) and enjoy watching the ducks on Turtle Lake or the hive of activity on the central lawn and before you leave, don’t forget to check out the amazing wood sculpture wall inside the Pavillion. Plus there's even a playpark for the kids!

If all this seems a bit overwhelming, believe me it is! (I could have probably written a seperate post on each of the gardens, but thought this would give you a great feel for the whole lot.) We couldn't believe the treasure that we'd stumbled upon the first time we visited for a breakfast picnic on the Camellia lawn, followed by a wander round the Paradise Collections and we left excited about coming back regularly. That is why one day is not nearly enough to explore the delights that are Hamilton Gardens! We have watched our children grow up here and so many of their happy early childhood memories are wrapped up in certain lovely spots. We would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone involved with The Gardens for all of the wonderful hard work you do, for the beautiful gardens you've created and the amazing annual events. We look forward to seeing the new developments and we will definitely be returning with friends for the events that have become fixtures in our annual calendar. I'll follow up on the blog as they occur... 

 The pumpkin and scarecrow festival - 2 of Arabella & Lucy's favourite fun events!

The pumpkin and scarecrow festival - 2 of Arabella & Lucy's favourite fun events!

I encourage you all to make the most of Hamilton Gardens if you're here or add it to your must see list if you are heading to this part of the world. Take your time and just enjoy exploring all the different parts, there is beauty to discover around every corner and it is good medicine for all ages! 

Perhaps I'll see you there...

Holly x

Do you have a favourite spot that has become a part of your everyday life? Any recommendations for places we should visit one day?