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21 Jan 20: Mystery revealed as new garden opens at Hamilton Gardens

Step into a strange world where mysterious dreams have come to life…

During the development of the Surrealist Garden at Hamilton Gardens, looming ivy-clad forms have emerged, raising questions about what’s behind the walls. All will be revealed when the new garden is opened to the public on Monday 3 February.

The new Surrealist Garden, in which everything appears to be five times the normal scale, adds an intriguing chapter to the Hamilton Gardens “story of gardens” theme.

The Surrealist art movement in the 1920s and 30s was inspired by the work of Sigmund Freud regarding the subconscious mind. However, garden designs have incorporated surrealism well before last century, from mythical miniature Chinese landscapes to quirky topiary in English stately homes.

“Surrealist elements have long been found in garden design,” says Hamilton Gardens Director Dr Peter Sergel.

“Generally they manifested through distortions of scale, the inclusion of biomorphic shapes and incongruous elements, surrealist sculptures, or through the use of materials behaving in an unexpected manner. Each of these features are represented in the Surrealist Garden.”

The biomorphic shapes which loom over the entrance to the Surrealist Garden have become known as ‘the trons’.

“They’re intended to look slightly sinister! It’s our twist on the tradition of carving topiary into strange surrealist shapes,” says Sergel.

“The best known examples of this strange topiary are probably Packwood House and Levens Hall in Britain. As you enter the garden, they’re shown in the pictures in the passageway. It’s decorated as if it were a 1930s home, but you soon realise nothing is what you expect.”

Hamilton Gardens attracts more than one million visits annually as well as international praise for its unique concept, showcasing garden design over the past 4,000 years. The collections of gardens at Hamilton Gardens explore the history, context and meaning of gardens.

The new garden will be formally opened by Mayor Paula Southgate on Monday 3 February 2020 and open to the public from 3.30pm.