Sunday, November 16, 2014

Aunty Pearls at the Hamilton Gardens

A group of ladies at our church decided that there were times when, as slightly older than middle age ladies, needed to be able to just do things for no reason. Most were grandmothers and over fifty so Aunty Pearls was formed 'cos we're all sort of related through Christ. However it's not limited to just church ladies and although there seems to be a core group of us we bring others along just for the fun.... and the one stipulations is....

You have to wear your pearls.

A couple of weekends ago a trip with a walk around the Hamilton Gardens was organized with late morning tea at the cafe.

The week before had been quite wet but the Saturday was a lovely sunny day, but not too hot, so perfect really. We traveled in two cars and met up for the walk.

The first feature garden we visited was The Japanese Garden of Contemplation. It had two parts; a dry part with raked pebbles and a wet part with a pond.

The row of shrubs at the front of the raked garden, although just slightly higher in appearance was quiet deep, something you only noticed when you looked deep down into it.

Many of the trees around the pond were a large version of a bonsai tree.

The next section was the English Flower Garden, the one I really liked.

It is a selection of different designs to create compartments within the area set aside for this garden, from a cottage style (the first photo here)
to a formal style the sort you would see at an English Manor. (the garden below with the pond)

Each had seats and statues, fountains or a pond for focal interest.

There were a couple of arched gateway-ed corridors to enter each 'room' with formal paved paths and boxed hedging.

In the formal garden there was a small flock of white homing pigeons that were quite interested in the goldfish in the pond.

All added to the desire to just sit and relax.

However by this time we had split into three groups.

Jan and Shona were well on their way and by the time we had finished were in the cafe and had finished their hot drinks.

Heather, Catherine, Judy and a friend were a bit ahead of us - Frances and I.

This pic is of us meeting up with the second group near the end.

The interesting thing is that the next day there was to be a scarecrow festival and set up around some parts were scarecrows. Heather is standing in front of one that occupied the seat we rested on and believe me he was pretty scary! - enough to scare more than the crows I'm sure!

The next garden we came to was the Chinese Scholars Garden. 

This had a walled entrance and little windows to look through to 'annex' rooms. Walking the path you cross bridges and wind your way up a bamboo lined path to a balcony that over looks the garden but also the Waikato river behind you.

One thing we noticed here was that the paving was in need of repair.

We also realized that someone in a wheel chair would not be able to access the gardens. Some of the paths were smooth enough but there were also stairs and rocky pathways so some gardens would not be accessible.

The next garden,  the American Modernist Garden, was not a fan for me. It was quite "concretey" and with succulents and abstract sculptures it just did not appeal.

What made it worse was that the 'sculpture' was taped off and the pool had no water in it. We were yet to decide what 'they' actually were. I suggested Felix the cat and Tweety bird but that is with a bit of a stretch of imagination.

Moving on we came to the bright Indian Char Bagh Garden with chalk like high walls. There is a rainbow coloured Persian carpet of flowers spreading out from a marble fountain, which unfortunately was not going. With all the white walls it was very hard on the eyes and the missing splashing water was not desirable. Even in the shade of the Pavilion it was still very 'gleary.' One had to take a careful look at the patterned ceiling so as not to get the sun in your eyes and also more stunning views of the River as you sat on the benches.

By this stage we thought we had lost sight of either of the other two groups but looking down from above we could see them in the next garden which was...

the Italian Renaissance Garden. This two was quite formal with a large fountain surrounded by lions as its central focus, geometrical shapes all around including the pools around the fountain and the twelve boxed gardens with different plant combinations and potted citrus trees in each corner.

Before descending into the walled garden you walk through an arched trellis work pathway and pass a sculpture depicting the original 5th century Capitoline wolf with Romulus and Remus.

The two babies, Romulus and Remus, were thrown into the Tiber River, which carried them to Platine where they were suckled by a she-wolf and then raised by a shepherd.

I didn't know this at the time and thought it an odd sculpture!

By leaving through a different exit we came into a small arena type area and Frances and I sat up the top to take it in and rest for a moment in the cool of some overhanging branches.

What was interesting was I was trying to get a photo of the wall but other people kept coming through the tunneled walkway.

In fact a group of Chinese people thought we were wanting to take photos of them and didn't seem to want to move!

In the end what amused me the most was I took my first selfie, with my camera and not my phone.

We wandered on to the productive section of gardens visiting the Sustainable Backyard with its chooks penned away. I did wonder looking at the garden if they ever let them out as I am sure from experience the garden would not have looked so established if the hens were allowed out to 'scratch'.

The Herb Garden had four beds in boxed sections separated for their purpose, - culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and perfume herbs. Two other sections contain herbs used for dyes and for herbal teas.

The Kitchen Garden was quite bare and seemed to be between seasonal plantings, which seemed a little odd to me as we had just had Queens Birthday weekend which is a typical time for plantings of summer crops for the vegetable gardener.

Before entering the Productive Collection of gardens there is a circular planting path like a wheel with the spokes being the path into each garden. On the edge was this sculpture of the Mad Hatter ready for his tea party from Alice In Wonderland.

There were some other gardens we looked at briefly but as some were either under construction or for some reason 'out of water' like the Tropical Garden, and being aware that we were way behind the others, we didn't linger and hurried back to the cafe.

So we had lunch together then headed back to our cars and on the way lingered to listen to some pipe bands as they were warming up and practicing for some competitions.

I thought how my father would love to have been here.

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