Tag Archives: garden ha-ha

Garden Lore: Friday 28 November, 2014

“I have rarely seen either ruins or rivers well manufactured.”

William Gilpin Remarks on Forest Scenery and Other Woodland Views (1834)

The ha-ha at Puketarata as viewed from below

The ha-ha at Puketarata as viewed from below

Garden Lore: A Ha-ha

Behold, a ha-ha. Or, as we prefer to call them here, an infinity lawn. That is a bit of an in-joke referencing infinity pools and landscapers’ love of such visual tricks. It is in fact a stock barrier which can trace its origins back at least 800 years in both Europe and China. This particular one is at Puketarata Garden near Hawera and you can see how it is constructed and how they have managed to keep the end stock-proofed while allowing easy access through to the garden. From on top, the mown lawn melds into the grazed grass without a visual interruption and encourages the eye to look to the vista beyond. It is a huge improvement on a fence, blurring the line between garden and the natural environment.

The origin of the term ha-ha is not known, apparently. We are of the view that it is what imbibing guests say as an unsuspecting victim falls off the edge at drunken, carefree garden parties.

The ha-ha as viewed from above - the near seamless connection to the wider landscape is what it is about

The ha-ha as viewed from above – the near seamless connection to the wider landscape is what it is about

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

“The other kind of boundless garden is not a geometrical figure at all. This English kind has no obvious beginning or end and the bounds are confused on all sides, so that for this garden an un-wall had to be invented, which performs the physical functions without having the visual value of a wall. The ha-ha or sunken fence is an English joke on law and order that exercises real constraint with the English deviousness and we can almost imagine a simple person stumbling into these sophisticated gardens without realising that he is in a garden at all, like someone who misses an irony.”

Eccentric Spaces by Robert Harrison (1977).