Tropical garden opens at Hamilton Gardens

The new Tropical Garden at Hamilton Gardens took three years to build.
The new Tropical Garden at Hamilton Gardens took three years to build.

They say a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place but purposely growing a plant in the wrong site is something of a gardener's fantasy.

Hamilton Gardens will tomorrow unveil the latest addition to their fantasy garden collection - a tropical garden.

A key feature of the new attraction is a vertical garden wall covered with more than 6000 tropical plants.

Each plant is housed in individual pockets and is set above a shallow pool.

Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel said the tropical garden took three years to build and paid homage to gardeners who, for centuries, had tried to grow exotic plants in different climates.

''A common garden fantasy is the use of plants from other climates such as tropical plants. But these are tropical looking plants or semi-tropical plants so they can survive in the Waikato climate,'' Dr Sergel said.

To protect plants from harsh winter temperatures, an automated frost protection system will switch on and off at certain temperatures. The system uses fine mist spray to take the edge off frosts.

As well as exotic varieties, the tropical garden features a few prominent natives such as nikau palms.

Dr Sergel said vertical gardens were increasingly popular in Europe but were uncommon in New Zealand due to their expense and the technology required to keep each pocket watered.The tropical garden's vertical garden wall uses a complex drip irrigation system.

The garden itself connects the piazza with the time court and features a boardwalk and a foot bridge across a shallow pool.

A black dye will be added to the water to hide its depth and also inhibit algae growth. Keen-eyed will also notice a few throw-backs from Hamilton's past popping up in the garden.

Three large pipes from a children's igloo which once graced Innes Common have been recycled and used to house bamboo.

Also, five Alexander palms which were removed from the corner of Bryce St and Barton St during the revamp of Centre Place now feature in the garden.

Mr Sergel said the tropical garden would look its best in summer but expected it to be a popular addition to the Hamilton Gardens.

Public tropical gardens were not common in New Zealand with most housed in glass display houses.