A new concept garden fantasy opened at the Hamilton Gardens this week.

Mayor Andrew King, along with councillors Paula Southgate and Angela O'Leary, cut the ribbon at the wardrobe entrance to the garden. A steampunk fashion parade followed before guests were invited to view the garden.

Mayor King used his opening speech to acknowledge the work from designer Peter Sergel and the Friends of the Gardens, but also brought up his proposed concept garden entrance fee.

"I believe it is time for people outside of Hamilton City to start paying their way. It costs over $2 million a year to maintain this place and it is a lot of money," Mayor King said.

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The new concept garden opened to the public on Thursday morning. Photo / Tom Rowland
The new concept garden opened to the public on Thursday morning. Photo / Tom Rowland

"I think it is time for people over the age of 18 and who are not living in Hamilton actually pay to get into these gardens."

The concept garden is the latest garden designed by Dr Sergel to open to the public.

Dr Sergel's original idea was to create a story of gardens.

"In a way it is telling a story of mankind and so it was appropriate to have a concept garden which is a modern kind of garden and is really an extension of concept art," Dr Sergel said.

Dr Sergel said he planned the garden several years ago but the construction of the garden has taken two years.

The garden's prime attraction is a steam-powered airship called the Huddleston, which Dr Sergel said is key to the fantasy theme.

"It was originally from a story book that was about a craft like that called the Saucy Sue, and that was the inspiration.

 A steampunk inspired fashion parade launched the opening of the new garden. Photo / Tom Rowland
A steampunk inspired fashion parade launched the opening of the new garden. Photo / Tom Rowland

"But I think that was before steampunkers were invented."

The garden forms part of the Fantasy Collection and is a modern representation of the Gardens' concept of telling the Story of Gardens through time, and across different civilisations.

This concept garden has been inspired by two Māori whakatauki and map legends.

On land use maps there's usually a legend of square boxes each with a different colour or texture denoting the different land uses.

In this Garden the nine square panels each represent one of the land uses on the legend in old school atlases.

Pasture is represented by the grass, native bush by Muehlenbeckia astonii, urban areas by White Carpet roses, horticultural by citrus trees, tussock grassland by Carex buchananii, coniferous forest by Pinus mugo, scrubland by Leptospermum scoparium, wetland by Apodasmia and water bodies by the central pool.

Whakatauki are traditional Māori proverbs which often function as reference points in speeches.

These proverbs may also present historical events through a Māori world view that communicates an underlying message or idea.