The Mansfield Garden is the latest Fantasy Garden to open at Hamilton Gardens. It represents the early 20th century New Zealand garden described in Katherine Mansfield’s short story ‘The Garden Party’.
There are the particular ‘Garden Party’ touches such as the marquee that workmen have set up against the karaka hedge on the tennis court. In her story, Mansfield describes the 15 kinds of sandwiches with the crusts cut off and ‘Godber’s famous cream puffs’ that were laid out ahead of the party.
Hamilton Gardens commissioned artist Sacha Lauchlan to recreate many of the foods mentioned in the story. While they look freshly prepared they have been crafted from concrete and resin to handle their outdoors location.
The food on display was common at the turn of the century and was researched by Emeritus Professor Helen Leach (University of Otago) and Hamilton caterer Lizzie Dickson.
“It’s been a fascinating journey helping research foods that were available at the time,” says Dickson. “The foods have almost come full circle with small portions now popular.
“So much has changed in terms of food preparation and storage. At the time baking powder was just invented as a raising agent which revolutionised baking, while blocks of ice in chests were used for refrigeration.”
The food can be viewed from the pergola in the Mansfield Garden.