After a long closure, Hamilton Gardens' Indian Char Bagh Garden reopened to the public this week.

The "Persian carpet of flowers" will be in bloom again thanks to work behind the scenes to restore this centrepiece of the Paradise Garden Collection, Hamilton City Council said.

Along with all other council facilities, the gardens were closed from Sunday March 22 as the global Covid-19 pandemic became an imminent threat in New Zealand.

Staff were able to return in a limited capacity in level 3 from April 28.


The beds in the Indian Char Bagh Garden are replanted three times a year to keep the floral display in top condition.

But because of lockdown, the usual turnover date was missed, and the municipal nursery was unable to immediately restock plants that didn't survive the closure.

When the Hamilton Gardens reopened to the public, the Indian Char Bagh Garden remained fenced off. Staff took advantage of the closure to biofumigate, a sustainable horticulture technique that is highly beneficial for long-term soil quality and plant growth.

"We sow mustard seed as it's fast and easy to grow. The plants rapidly cover the ground suppressing weeds," says Hamilton Gardens operations manager, Gus Flower.

"Its greatest value is as a deterrent against roundworm and fungi. Best practice is to chop the plants down prior to seeding and incorporate them into the soil while still fresh. Then they can work their magic."

The Indian Char Bagh Garden has become a firm favourite with visitors to Hamilton Gardens, which aims tell the story of gardens throughout civilisation.

The char bagh or "four quartered" garden was common throughout the Muslim world between the 8th and 18th centuries. There are references to its symbolism in the Quran, the Book of Genesis in the Bible, and in Hindu cosmology.

It is sometimes known as the "universal garden" because of its widespread and long period of use.


The Hamilton Gardens example is an interpretation of a 16th –17th century garden built by the Mughal aristocracy in India.

The Mughal emperors were initially descendants of the Mogul invaders who spread their empire eastwards from Persia into northern India from the 13th century onwards.

They brought Persian garden design to the Indian subcontinent, which was then in turn influenced by local Hindu culture.

Because of the ongoing risks of Covid-19, visitors to Hamilton Gardens are asked to be mindful of physical distancing requirements, particularly in areas such as the narrow entrance to the Indian Char Bagh Garden.