The latest Concept Garden is set to open next Thursday at the Hamilton Gardens, with a special new piece of gardening equipment — an oversized steampunk airship named Huddleston.

Designed to glide silently through the night delivering plants and pruning hard-to-reach hedges for the gardening team, the Huddleston is chock-full of industrial gadgets and a mechanical steam engine.

Inspired by a time when steam power ruled the world, the sculptural airship can be spotted tethered beside the new Concept Garden.

The airship arrives from a time when steam power ruled the world and can be spotted hovering beside the Concept Garden in Braithwaite Court.


It has been sponsored by the Braithwaite family with substantial support from Lloyd Brownlie and Bryce Weal.

The Braithwaite family have had a long involvement with Hamilton Gardens.

Former mayoress and deputy mayor Kathleen Braithwaite sponsored the English Flower Garden. Her husband, Ron Braithwaite, was mayor of Hamilton. Her daughter, Marjorie Dyer, was a long-time member and president of the Friends of Hamilton Gardens.

Her son, former mayor David Braithwaite sponsored this Huddleston machine.

The Braithwaite Court recognises the family's involvement.

An imposing yellow wardrobe guards the entrance to the Concept Garden. As visitors near, the wardrobe doors slowly open to reveal the riverside garden beyond.

The garden forms part of the Fantasy Collection and is a modern representation of the Gardens' internationally unique concept of telling the Story of Gardens through time, and across different civilisations. This particular concept garden has been inspired by two Māori whakatauki and map legends.

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.

An artist's impression of the new entrance to the Hamilton Concept Garden. Photo / Hamilton Gardens
An artist's impression of the new entrance to the Hamilton Concept Garden. Photo / Hamilton Gardens

The whakatauki inscribed on the white wall is: He peke tangata, apa he peke titoki', which means 'The human family lives on while the branch of the titoki falls and decays.'

Also in the Gardens is a piece of abstract expressionist artwork to contrast the rigid form of the Concept Garden, provided by professional English artist Michael White who travels around the world often painting in tropical exotic locations.

The painting is called The artist furtively hunting volcanic Taupō trout, under a gloriously fishy sky.

His work has been displayed in galleries around the world, including the British Royal Academy. When Gardens director Dr Sergel first made contact with the artist in England about the possibility of using his work, he was surprised to find the artist was already a big fan of Hamilton Gardens and he was enthusiastic to have his work displayed there.