Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

Hamilton Gardens

The client

Hamilton Gardens is an award-winning garden which tells the story of gardens.  The gardens explore the history, context and meaning of gardens over the past 4,000 years, providing a unique insight into different civilizations throughout history.

The 50-hectare park is one of the region’s most visited attractions and is located on the banks of the Waikato River, in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The brief

Haddonstone was approached by the team at Hamilton Gardens several years ago to supply high-quality cast stonework designs for the development of the new Picturesque Garden.  The garden is an important addition to the Hamilton Gardens collection because the Picturesque Garden movement was a significant stage in the evolution of modern landscape architecture.

The client was keen to detail the changing attitude to nature’s influence on the 18th century Picturesque Garden.  Throughout this period, garden design was inspired by a new fashion for paintings of wild, romantic landscapes – a significant departure from the more formal, controlled designs of the previous century.  This movement also widely referenced fantasy stories and classical legends.

The team chose the story of Mozart’s 1791 The Magic Flute – an opera that tells of a hero’s journey through trials of love and enlightenment, to provide the context of the Picturesque movement.  Mozart was a Mason and The Magic Flute contains Masonic symbolism, telling the story of a hero’s journey and his initiation into the secret society.  It was integral that each piece of stonework would play a significant role in bringing The Magic Flute to life within the scheme.

The solution

The team at Hamilton Gardens was keen to incorporate several structures into the garden, as well as 18th Century Masonic references, that were commonly found in garden designs of the period.

Central to the garden design is the Woodland Temple, which is noted in The Magic Flute.  A bespoke Haddonstone Pavilion, featuring four columns and pediment was chosen to represent the Woodland Temple.

Three doorways were integrated into a large wall that symbolically divides the garden between the realm of the night and moon and the realm of higher consciousness.  The three doorways were created by incorporating Haddonstone William Kent Door Surrounds, with steps.  Six Haddonstone Lion Finials also stand proud above the Dark Passage, representing the 6 lions that pulled the chariot.

Three guardian angels, or genii feature in The Magic Flute, and these are represented by the Haddonstone Statue of Fire, Statue of Air and Statue of Water.

Other Haddonstone stonework that was incorporated into the design included:

All Haddonstone stonework was produced in Bath colour.

The result

The Picturesque Garden at Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand, opened on 4 November 2019.

Hamilton Gardens has been designed to tell the story of gardens with different types of garden being developed from different periods in history. These range from an ‘Ancient Egyptian Garden’ to a modern ‘Concept Garden’.

One of the recent gardens to have been developed is the 18th century ‘Picturesque Garden’. It intentionally looks a bit wild and overgrown with a cave, ruins and various 18th century Masonic symbols all set along a riverside path. Haddonstone products are a feature of the garden including: a pavilion, pillars, sphinx, plaques, statuary and doorways.

Dr Peter Sergel, Hamilton Gardens

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