The Picturesque Garden was formally opened on Monday 4 November with a ribbon cutting by Hamilton City Council Mayor Paula Southgate and New Zealand Freemasons Grand Master, Mark Winger. The Masons have been major sponsors of this new garden which depicts the style of the 18th century Picturesque Garden Movement.
The event MC was John Dobson, chair of the Hamilton Gardens Development Trust, and Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel also spoke.
Mark Winger gave the following address as part of the formalities:
It’s great to be here and I’m very proud, on behalf of all Freemasons in New Zealand, that we could contribute to the construction of this delightful garden.
The Picturesque Garden is a real credit to the builders, gardeners and craftsmen who designed and created it, and I hope the people of Hamilton, and the people of other regions and countries who visit, really enjoy it and find it inspirational. It’s a magnificent addition to what is already a magnificent attraction for Hamilton. Something to be really proud of and to really enjoy.
Now, I’m not sure how many of you here are Freemasons, or know much about our Craft, but it’s a delight for me to see the symbolism relating to Freemasonry showcased in this garden design.
A very quick history lesson. The traditions of Freemasonry date back to the Middle Ages and to the stone masons who built the cathedrals and castles of Europe. These masons were free men, not bonded to any particular master, so they were known as ‘free’ masons. And like workers do today, they formed themselves into a sort of industry association or union called a ‘lodge’. The first Grand Lodge of Freemasons was established in England in 1717, and thereafter Freemasonry spread rapidly throughout the world. Freemasonry has been practiced in Australasia since early in the 19th Century.
At its heart, Freemasonry is non-profit organisation that is heavily involved in supporting charity and community service. We’re not a secret society and we’re not a cult, or a religion or a substitute for one. We’re just men of good character who want to help other people through charity work and community service and to make a difference in our communities.
As one journeys through Freemasonry, one experiences symbolism at so many levels – which we use to educate our members in the qualities of life, such as tolerance, understanding of the mysteries of nature and science, appreciating the value of the liberal arts and culture.
The designers of the gardens have grasped this layering of symbolism superbly. As you walk through the gardens, you will note the masonic pillars, the celestial canopy of stars and the rough and perfect ashlars. These emblems and others in the garden have special significance to Freemasons and are entirely appropriate to have on display in this garden.
And, again, to the trained eye, one will find within the garden more subtle masonic references – the seven stars on the Queen’s Throne; three entrances; three trombones; three veiled ladies. These numbers also having special meaning within Freemasonry – Mozart included them in the Magic Flute from his Masonic knowledge, and to make the opera something special.
And if you look further still within the Picturesque Garden, you’ll discover acacia; pomegranates denoting abundance; red roses and white lilies; cedar trees …. These are all plants which, again, contain important symbolism to the Masonic world.
In Freemasonry, we marvel at the skill of the expert craftsmen who constructed majestic cathedrals – but today, I wish to record my admiration for the skill and talents of those who have designed, created, and constructed these Gardens – they are a credit to all involved, from conception through to creation.
As Grand Master, I have been encouraging Freemasons around the country to Speak Up for Freemasonry, to help raise our profile and educate our communities about the Craft and the philosophies that underpin what we do. And what better example of the Speak Up campaign but a beautifully designed Picturesque Garden located within the elegant confines of Hamilton Gardens.
We are proud of Freemasonry, we are honoured to be associated with this innovative addition to the Hamilton Gardens and we are delighted to be supporting in a humble manner the cultural and artistic initiatives of the Hamilton City Council.
Now it is my great pleasure to formally declare this Picturesque Garden open.