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A Visit to Auckland’s Winter Garden

A few days ago, my mum and I visited a stunning place situated in the heart of our old neighbourhood of Parnell, just a short walk from the Auckland Museum is one incredibly awesome garden. If you’re a tourist or local admiring artifacts of New Zealand history at the museum, do not hesitate to stop by the Domain Wintergardens (est 1913)  just down the road! Two large glass houses with different climates (one normal temperature one and one heated one for tropical plants) bursting with flowers and marble neoclassical statues that will immediately make you feel like you’ve been transported to a 19th century novel. Perfect for those who love florals or enjoy the beauty of nature. What makes this place so great is that you can admire its flowers and plants all year round, no matter the weather, and it’s free to enter! Perfect for any outing for any occasion.

As you step into this classy outdoor and indoor garden wonderland, you are greeted by pops of colour among various vibrant flowers, and architecture so elegant you’d think you’re living in a renaissance painting or Shakespearean play. Held up by brick walls and glasshouses – a nice contrast that shows the elements of both modern and old, don’t you think? Words (or even the photos I am about to show you) can’t even do justice to describe how beautiful this place is!

With that being said, here are some photos. Enjoy!

Walking into the gardens on a cloudy afternoon, (but we didn’t let the occasional showers get in the way of us admiring the beautiful flowers and sculptures) one of the first things that caught my eye was this statue that resembles the Virgin Mary, atop a bed of magenta flowers. Isn’t she beautiful? Of course, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the rustic-looking pond (that was also ridden with algae, but it added a nice touch to the character of this place) with a fountain in the middle of a mosaic circular floor. I loved how this pond was in perfect symmetry with the rest of the garden, almost reminiscent of a shot in a Wes Anderson film. To anyone who loves symmetry (although that completely contrasts the “wabi-sabi” aesthetic you know we love at Nostalgem) this is a sight that will be both visually appealing and satisfying to your eyes!

This cherub statue was also very appealing to me. The intricacy and detail of it was astounded, and although rust and moss was growing on it, it still appeared to be a classy touch to the place’s artistic vibe as a whole. Hang on a minute – is that a duck it’s sitting on?! I wonder if it’s symbolic to a Greek or Roman myth…

One very unique plant that stood out to me was the coleus plant (pictured on the left). I’ve never seen anything like it! Looking at it in person, it almost looked surreal, with its bright magenta pigmentation, with maroon on the outside, and perfectly dotted speckles of lime green on the circumference of the leaves. Quite an interesting colour combination! Pictured in the centre and on the right are these flamboyantly colourful flowers. I especially loved the colour of the purple ones, as the shade of purple was almost surreal, as it’s hard to think that nature’s beautiful flora can be in such a vibrant shade!

Up close and personal! Some very intricate flowers and plants we came across! They all came in different shapes, sizes, colours (and even scents!) and it’s amazing how refined every detail was for each and every one of them!

After we explored the exterior part of the gardens, we went into the Victorian-style glass houses to check out the tropical plants. It was really warm in the tropical glasshouse! Perfect place to take shelter in on a semi-rainy day… and what better way to do so than to admire the beautiful plants?!

Before going inside, we were greeted by this (much to my Mum’s disappointment. She being a forager and all). Must be a big risk for the plants in a place that is entirely open to the public

After first setting foot inside the glasshouse, a vivid exhibition of greenery dazzled before our eyes. The hanging plants that rested above the koi pond that reminded me of Ophelia’s pond in Hamlet gave me great inspiration for house decor! Aren’t hanging plants an absolutely fabulous idea to brighten up even the dullest of rooms?

Among the bizarre varieties of plans we stumbled upon, this one in particular caught our eyes (the mimosa plant)! It may just look like an ordinary wild plant, but the cool thing about it is that it shrivels up whenever you touch it! Strange right? Well, this is the plant’s natural self-protective instinct to ward off bugs and predators. Who would’ve thought a plant could be so smart and unique?

The nepenthes (a carnivorous pitcher plant) also caught our eye. How could it not? It smelled rotten! It was definitely a sight to see, as carnivorous tropical plants are not something you’d find in New Zealand’s natural climate. It was fascinating how the plant resembled little cups. You could easily drink out of them! That is… if they didn’t reek of dead flies. Yuck!

Some more plants in the tropical greenhouse! The orangey red flowers complemented the vast array of greenery very nicely. Maybe it would be nice to have your own tropical indoor garden!

As we said goodbye to the unique and eccentric tropical plants, we went back outside to take another look at the outdoor flowers. The different hues and pigments all classily complemented each other and brightened up the dull and cloudy day. What a gorgeous place to spend your afternoon! 

If you do get a chance to drop by… perhaps if you’ve just finished visiting the museum, or are taking a nice walk or having a picnic in the domain, a visit to the Winter Gardens is something that the nature and flower lover in you will thank yourself for.

– Faith