Image: The Indian Char Bagh Garden being re-planted at Hamilton Gardens
After an unprecedented long-term closure, Hamilton Gardens’ Indian Char Bagh Garden re-opens to the public from Monday 7 September 2020. 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.
Along with all other Hamilton City Council facilities, Hamilton Gardens was closed from Sunday 22 March as the global COVID-19 pandemic became an imminent threat in New Zealand. Staff were able to return in a limited capacity once Level 3 was in place from 28 April.
The garden beds in the Indian Char Bagh Garden are re-planted three times annually to keep the floral display in top condition. Due to lockdown, the usual turnover date was missed, and the Municipal Nursery was unable to immediately restock plants which didn’t survive the closure.
As Hamilton Gardens re-opened to the public, the Indian Char Bagh Garden remained fenced off. Staff took advantage of this rare closure period to implement biofumigation, a sustainable horticulture technique which is highly beneficial for soil quality and plant growth in the long term.
“We sow mustard seed as it’s fast and easy to grow. The plants rapidly cover the ground suppressing weeds,” says Gus Flower, Hamilton Gardens Operations Manager.
“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.”
Since its opening in 2005, 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 Koran, the Book of Genesis in the Bible, and in Hindu cosmology. It is sometimes known as the ‘universal garden’ due to 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.
Due to the on-going 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.