Sunday, 13 September 2015

Hamilton Gardens

Today was another relaxed day with my friends, breakfasting on duck egg and honey pancakes, chatting, then pottering around their smallholding.  In the afternoon we visited the nearby Hamilton Gardens.  This has a variety of different areas: we explored the Paradise Collection, the Fantasy Collection, and the Productive Collection, leaving the Cultivar Collection for another time (maybe!).

These collections were individual gardens in a variety of styles.  Interestingly, these gardens were not linked by a continuous path, but each was reached through a small "portal" area, which acted like a palette cleanser between one garden and the next.

Google Earth view of the various gardens.  The three "portals" are visible as walled circles (left, centre), and a hedged square (right).  The circular "snail" towards the centre top is the entrance to the entire collection.
First we went to the Paradise Collection, accessed through the square hedged portal.

portal area to the Paradise Collection
panorama: Japanese Garden of Contemplation
view through a ceramic bamboo screen: Chinese Scholars Garden
the 1.4m long, 250kg, bronze Celestial Yuan of Taihu
view down to the Chinese Scholars Garden
a riot of spring colour in the Indian Char Bagh Garden
Italian Renaissance Garden
The Paradise Collection also included an English Flower Garden (which brought it home to me more forcefully that it is barely even spring here at the moment), and a Modernist Garden (hmm, yes, well).

Then it was off to the Fantasy Collection, through its circular portal.

the Tudor Garden -- although it reminded me more of Portmeirion
pavilion: Chinoiserie Garden
There was also a Tropical Garden in this collection, but since I was in sub-tropical rain forest earlier in the week looking at massive trees, I was not as taken with it as the others.  Further gardens are being prepared, including a Surrealist Garden,  We glimpsed parts of this in skeletal form through a hedge; a suitably surreal experience.

Finally, the Productive Collection, through its circular portal.  This portal was rather interesting.

Google Earth view of the portal: there seem to be strange curved lines running across it.
the portal from the ground, showing the various curves in closeup
My friend asked me "do you know what this is?"  I stared at it for a while, and it was the asymmetrical figure eight shapes that gave it away, especially combined with the spike casting a shadow (out of view).  The figure eights look like analemmas, the shape traced out in the sky by the sun at a given time of the day over the year.  Here it's the path of the shadow cast by the sun.  There were three analemmas, for the path traced at noon, and at an hour before and after noon.  The long curves going across the picture are the paths traced by the shadow of the spike over a day, for several different days of the year.  What a wonderful concept!  An it might get incorporated into a future plan for our own garden, to complement the armillary sphere we got a few years back.

Finally, it was the Productive Collection.

traditional Maori productive garden: Te Parapara Garden
The collection included a Herb Garden, Kitchen Garden, and Sustainable Backyard, all interesting ideas, but probably better viewed in the summer, when there is more growing.

Then after dinner, the sky was dark, and clear again, so I went out to gawp at the alien stars. And tonight, it was even darker than yesterday, and I spotted both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds!  Perfect.

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