When I arrived in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1972 I used to take our domestic rubbish to what is now, the 2014 Best International Tourist Garden in the world. Bus loads of tourists visit by the day and the citizens of Hamilton proudly take their visitors to visit them.
These gardens started soon after I arrived and to keep fit I took up daily running. Often we would run through the gardens to see what was happening. Forty years later I don't run so much but visit the gardens regularly to see what is happening - always something. It has been a revelation to see these gardens develop from a rubbish dump to their present state. They are a credit to the Hamilton City Council and in particular the Director, Peter Sergel who has turned a dream into reality. Add to this the hard work of the staff and the fundraising efforts of city businesses and citizens and you have it all.
The gardens have been developed along the lines of themed garden design rather than botanical science. There are five collections themed Paradise, Productive, Fantasy, Cultivar and Landscape. The Paradise gardens comprise a selection of garden themes from all over the world. The gardens include themed Japanese, English, Chinese, Indian Char Barg, American Modernist, Italian Renaissance.
In addition are the Rose Gardens, the Valley and Turtle Lake Walks, Te Parapara Maori, Kitchen and Herb Gardens, among others. Recently the Tropical and Tudor Gardens have been opened and planned or in production themes include the Surrealist, Mansfield, Concept and Picturesque Gardens.
There are two major events held at the gardens, the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival (which includes the NZ Painting and Printmaking Awards) and the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival. at the Garden Pavilion numerous other exhibitions and events are held each year - over 2000.