There will be a minibus service to Little Sparta on five Friday afternoons during August: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th.
package includes return transport from central Edinburgh, admission to
the garden and a choice of a guidebook or photography pass, for £30 per
person. To book online go to our partner ticketing service, Eventbrite.
are delighted to announce the appointment of a new gardener at Little
Sparta, George Gilliland, to work alongside Ralph Irving, helping him
with the many tasks involved while learning about the garden at the
same time. He and Ralph are helping to develop the Conservation and
Management Plan, which is being drawn up by John Phibbs of Debois
Landscape, and which will, when it is completed, not only map the
garden, but incorporate a complete history of its creation, development
and realisation by Ian Hamilton Finlay.
George is a
landscape gardener and designer, who has worked in several major
gardens in the Scottish Borders. Before that, he was Gallery and
Exhibitions Manager at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, and at the
Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast.
Educated at the
University of Ulster, Belfast, he did an advanced diploma in the
history and theory of art and design, and his thesis was entitled
Between Virtue and Revolution -- A Reading of the work of Ian Hamilton
George began working at Little Sparta in February, and is writing up monthly reports on his experiences there.
Click here to read George's reports so far.
goose hut was repaired recently by Andrew Townsend, an architect based
in the south of England . Andrew made the original designs, in
collaboration with IHF, and built the goose hut in 1982. Following this
he worked with IHF on a number of projects for the next twenty years or
so, both at Little Sparta and elsewhere. This year he returned to the
garden with two young assistants, Harry Wardill and Boris Bogdanovich
(engineer and architect respectively on the Scholarship programme run
by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings), to carry our
structural repairs and to renew the heather thatch roof on the goose
Goose Hut - wooden columns with heather infilling - IHF with Andrew Townsend, 1982
is a drawing by the 18th century French architectural theorist and
cleric Laugier showing his idea of the first building ever constructed.
He held that such a building was governed by virtuous principles of
simplicity and rationality. This hut, formerly housing the geese of
Lochan Eck, exemplifies the drawing.
Ash tree in the Front Garden, with its plaque ‘Mare Nostrum’ fell in
the autumn of 2010. Fortunately the tree’s sudden falling did not
damage severely any of the works, but it did topple some of the trees
of ‘Bring Back the Birch’ and damage the boundary wall and part of the
bench with its inscription –
‘The Seas Waves The Waves Sheaves The Seas Naves’
The Ash, with its sound of the sea in its leaves was the foundation
tree of the garden: an original source of the garden’s lyricism, and
part of its metaphoric association with the sea. As tallest and oldest
tree it had a venerable presence being the first sign of the garden,
folded into the moorland, as the visitor climbs the stony path to the
were initially going to remove the tree stump but decided against it as
the Ash was regenerating from within the cambium layer, A new Ash
sapling will be placed in the shelter within the shards of the trunk,
protected from the strong winds that can sweep up the moorland. So the
old tree will nurse and nourish the new as is fitting and as Ian
perhaps would have wished, making for a gentle regeneration.
Gratitude to arborists Robin Craig, Donald Roger and to our gardener, Ralph Irving for their work with the Ash.
"Gardeners' World Magazine 2-for-1 gardens card and guide went on sale
on April 21st. Bring the card with you to Little Sparta to benefit from
this offer on our admission fee."
"News for Friends and Patrons - this year's summer event
is provisionally scheduled for Saturday 13th August and details will be
sent out to supporters. We'd like to do this by email, so if you have
an email address, please let us know it by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word 'supporter' in the subject line."
Radio 4's Start the Week with Andrew Marr (30th May 2011) had Charles
Jenks on and unsurprisingly mentioned the influence of Ian Hamilton
"I was so pleased that Pia Simig selected Homage to Villa d'Este, 1975, to be part of our recent exhibition of work by Ian Hamilton Finlay entitled Definitions
(5 May - 1 June, Victoria Miro Gallery, London). To have been able
bring this magical work back to life after 35 years and and install it
in our canal side garden in London was real pleasure. The fountain is
wittily placed in juxtaposition to Evolution of the Boat,
1995 - one of Ian's finer statements about the absurdities of progress
- and the two pieces play off one another beautifully.
Definitions opened in springtime when our local water
fowl were nesting on the banks of the canal. One intrepid moorhen even
attempted to nest on top of the aircraft carrier and, for a brief
moment, there was a true Finlay-esque meeting of nature and culture!
Although the exhibition has now closed we have kept Homage to Villa
d'Este and Evolution of the Boat installed in the garden, where they
feel perfectly at home and, for the time being at least, this is where
they will remain."
More information about the exhibition at: http://www.victoria-miro.com/exhibitions/_418/ .
I counted the rings on one of the Ash logs (I assume from the big Ash).
Now, while I chose the biggest log I could see, I don't know where on
the tree it came from (how high up) and this obviously makes a
difference and also, the centre of the log was rotten and so my count
is missing rings in the centre. Nevertheless, I was surprised at the
result; the tree was planted in 1760 at the very latest and, possibly,
much (depending on where on the tree my log came from) earlier. When
was the cottage built? I wonder if the tree was planted when Stonypath