Four Thousand Eyes on The Hamilton Gardens

In 1940 American realist thinker Karl Llewellyn, somewhat alarmingly, posited that what a judge decides could depend on what he had for breakfast that morning. Writing two decades later, in Travels with Charley, American Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck somewhat similarly noted, “so much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.” More than half-a-century later, #TheDress nearly broke the internet when people all over the world found themselves divided over the colour of a fuzzy photograph of a bodycon dress (which, by the way, is most definitely white and gold!).

Different eyes see the world differently, and it is an understatement to say that how we perceive the world can be influenced by our selves, our experiences and the way that our brains are wired. Facing the existence of subjectivity can be a grim, frustrating or downright bizarre experience, but as we discovered this week -it can also be incredibly beautiful.

When we stumbled onto the #HamiltonGardens hashtag on Instagram, we were blown away. The 4000+ photos catalogued on the hashtag invited us to see one place through thousands of eyes. Different people have photographed and uploaded the same subjects -for example the Alice in Wonderland statues, the Romulus and Remulus fountain, the Chinese Scholars Garden and so on -but each interpretation and interaction with the subject matter is so different from person to person that each individual photograph is justifiably a new stitch in the wonderful, whimsical tapestry that is this collection of photos.

Whether they’re visiting 13th century Mughal-ruled India, making out with the Mad Hatter, or re-enacting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, these Instagrammers -visitors from around Hamilton, New Zealand and the world- all delight in the Hamilton Gardens, transcending time, traveling across continents and through the minds of some of history’s greatest thinkers, artists and writers -with nothing but unabashed joy and a camera in hand.

And why not? Where else can you, at once, travel to ancient Egypt and Renaissance Italy, stopping briefly to witness the founding of Rome, before setting foot into Sung Dynasty China and then into 18th century Europe in fits of Oriental madness? Or see and smell England as Henry VIII would have, and then go and see Kirikiriroa at the landing of the Tainui Waka? In what other place can you follow the White Rabbit to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, only to excuse yourself to head to 17th century Russia or an Asian-Australian-Central American tropical paradise? In fact, where else would you find a Asian-Australian-Central American tropical paradise?

This is a little taste of 4000 eyes on the reigning International Garden of the Year. Perhaps Mr Llewellyn might be interested to know what people have for breakfast when they come to Hamilton? Hint: it must be freaking amazing.

Dying from all of the pretty in this photo! Beautiful snap from @naomiyueh

Where does New Zealand’s fave wedding mag go for Italian elegance? The world’s best garden, of course! Beautiful bride, beautiful backdrop at the Medici Court, @newzealandweddingsmagazine

More high fashion for M2Woman at Hamilton Gardens, this time with the serene Japanese garden as the backdrop! Love it @hamiltongardens

All the best gardens have a rocking nightlife, right @stephanieslattery

You know you’re in the world’s best gardens when Grammy Award-winning choirs pop by to perform! @kirsty.fynn checks out the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa. Jealous!

Lesson #1 in botany from @plantpedia.co.nz: this is an artichoke flower, up close and blooming at Hamilton Gardens. Surreal!

@shopstyleconquer is high on life after a blog shoot at the Char Bagh Gardens!

All of the COLOUR! @atticandglory snaps Hamilton Gardens blossoming in immodest shades of every hue possible.

…and it was all yellow! Brilliant burst of colour, from @thorishec.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on here, but when we did -wow! Love the new take on the bridge at the Tropical Garden, @sarasofiaalmeida!

Hamilton has a perennial tropical garden, and it’s a stunner, right @healthyselfforlife?

Eddie Redmayne’s week with Marilyn pales in comparison to a lifetime with Marilyn at Hamilton Gardens! @aishabower poses with the queen herself. Love the fluoro, girls!

The prints! The people! The pooch! This is summer at the Hamilton Gardens, with @tatianarodrigueslins,

Who doesn’t love a maypole with bunting?! Gardens visitor @miaemcmanus checks out the teddy bear picnic on a gorgeous Hamilton day.

The dress! The kiss! The flowers! The gardens! @katerphoto snaps these newly-weds falling in love all over again under this beautiful light.

Stepping foot into the Hamilton Gardens is to step into a whimsical adventure of foreign lands and fanciful imagination. So it’s only fitting that there’s an homage to everybody’s favourite whimsical adventure story -Alice in Wonderland. Cute! This,from @tonigarson

@rhimae_ lives the Lewis Carroll dream -catching the White Rabbit for a snuggle! Wonder if the Mad Hatter was next?

The Mad Hatter gets his share of love from @nix.lee!

We know what @rightanglegirl would bring to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: Squirrel Cookies! We’re totally on board with cute garden-themed foods.

Walking With Dinosaurs: Charlie is proof that sometimes the experience is in what you bring to the Gardens. We’re in love, @missemilylane!

Gatsby Girls: @christine_hardy gets all dolled up for the Hamilton Gardens Gatsby Party!

Classic: Possibly hands-down our favourite shot from the Gatsby Party -love it, @yana_cielo!

We love the 1920s themed conservatory too, @scottie_87!

Take me back to Tuscany: @j_beaumont snaps the beautiful Italian Renaissance Garden!

@bariimounir plays Romeo to this pretty lady’s Juliet at the Medici Court!

Think Rome was built in a day? Think again. @whirringblender’s friend Chris gets up close and personal with a suckling baby Romulus and Remus before the founding of Rome.

From far away legends to ones closer to home, @naomi_dave_crawford takes in the story of Maui at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.

Not in Kansas anymore: Ruby-shod @chloe_z17 visits the ducks at Turtle Lake!

@blue.eyes1happens upon this gem in the gardens.

The green expanse of the Rhododendron Lawn may be quiet and assuming when @romanpacific visited, but it sure packs a punch as one of the best open-air venues in Hamilton! Our favourite was Rocky Horror under the stars.

A River Runs Through It: @chissy01hangs out on the banks of the Waikato River

@chissy01 takes a step back in time, into the magnificent and unbelievably intricate Tudor Gardens.

@healthyselfforlife takes a walk around the perimeter of the Tudor Gardens. We’re obsessed with the architecture!

@roshani_arul taps into her inner Jane Austen and takes a turn about the picturesque English Rose Garden.

Another other-worldly walkway, this time the Chinese Scholars Garden from, @yen_pryn

@govnix snaps sunlight coming down through the bamboo forest at the Chinese Scholars Garden

@jaydizzle_c transports us to the beautiful orient with this shot of the Chinese Scholar’s Garden. Pretty pretty.

Genius at Work: A rare behind-the-scenes shot of the Father of the Gardens, Dr Peter Sergel creating a scale model of a mysterious, brooding 9m tall ‘Tron’ for the upcoming Surrealist Garden at @hamiltongardens

@johanna_dygryn_ snaps another kind of special visitor to the Gardens. Stunning closeup!

@k8ieann braves the sting for this spectacular closeup

Très adorable, @mimiyangforever!

Frolicking amongst flowers, @steffchou!

A Little Princess in A Secret Garden: @naomi_dave_crawford’s little girl channels all things Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Unicorn! This mythical creature may be beautiful, but it bears the shield of Mary, Queen of Scots -aka Bloody Mary. Fab, @eloursnz!

Bottom brandishing Shakespeare’s shield high above the Tudor Gardens. Love it @eloursnz!

We’re starting to wonder if Hamilton Gardens was the true inspiration behind the cover art of Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’…so love it, @karenferguson!

The Indian Garden makes @b_mahajan feel like a maharaja!

Indian Star: @chloe.travels takes it to the next level at the Indian Garden, with her gorgeous Indian-inspired dress! Please Hamilton, can we have a Bollywood party here?!

@marisavazey captures the intricate details inside the Indian Garden.

Popping corn at the Gardens! It’s totally a thing right @nattybegood?

Icing on the Cake: Oh, and did we mention there are peacocks at @hamiltongardens?

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