I would say that the most memorable gardens I have visited are ones that evoke a real sense of spirituality. It is hard to put a finger on how the garden makers have achieved this. It doesn’t seem to bare any relation to the price of the materials used in creating the garden. One of the best examples of this is the garden I visited a few weeks ago in the Scottish Borders, Little Sparta. It was created by the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay.
On entering the front garden, we felt a real feeling of tranquillity in this shady woodland garden. Ian Hamilton Finlay created this garden using random brick, stone paths and walls and wood. This gives the garden far more atmosphere than it would have with the latest high end landscaping materials. His key plants, were ones such as nettles that one might quickly pull up if found in their own garden! But this was a very ‘natural’ space that fitted in well to the surrounding rural Border’s landscape. Consequently, this garden achieves the perfect balance between creating a harmonious space and allowing nature to run it’s course.
It is a truly original and creative garden that strongly reflects the identity of it’s creator. Ian Hamilton Finlay was a concrete poet, and his artworks are incorporated throughout the garden. He had a fascination with language, philosophy, classical literature, nature, the sea, time and conflict. He uses his art to explore these topics. His play on word are thought provoking. Many of his pieces also relate to and connect with other sculptures and words situated elsewhere in the garden.
Little Sparta is a fascinating garden to wonder round. It arouses your curiosity but also evokes a real sense of spirituality and tranquillity.