Hamilton Gardens recently received the prestigious International Garden of the Year award, announced on October 1 as part of the 2014 Garden Tourism Awards held at the International Conference Gardens Without Limits conference in Metz, France.

The annual award is presented to gardens which distinguish themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction.

Previous winners have included the Singapore Botanic Garden – which is currently applying for UNESCO World Heritage Status – and the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle in Merano, Italy.

“This is fantastic news,” Hamilton mayor, Julie Hardaker, said.

“It puts Hamilton on the world gardens stage and I am sure the whole of Hamilton will be celebrating. It comes just as we start a major development programme at the Gardens which will increase the tourism options.”

“Many local individuals and organisations have contributed to the creation of Hamilton Gardens, and this is some well-deserved recognition for what they have achieved,” Hamilton Gardens director, Peter Sergel, said.

“There is a lot more garden development still to occur and we’re constantly improving the way we do things. However this international award confirms we’re on the right track.”

Hamilton Gardens’ concept of tracing the story of gardens through different civilisations and time is considered internationally unique. This concept was recognised by award juror Michel Gauthier, who said the award from industry peers indicated Hamilton Gardens was “a leading example of integrating quality garden experiences to the tourism industry”.

Hamilton Gardens’ development has been fast-tracked after Hamilton City Council approved a targeted rate for five more gardens within four years adopted in the council’s 2014/15 annual plan.

The proposed gardens, and associated visitor facilities, will cost $7 million, however consultancy firm Horwath HTL estimates the investment will be recouped within three years through increased economic benefits to the region.

Additional funding for the gardens is being sought from grants and sponsorship.