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Little Sparta in 2016

The 2016 season begins on Wednesday 1st June. The garden will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays, 2.30-5pm from then until Friday 30th September. 

The Little Sparta Trust is a registered Scottish charity SC023222.


Little Sparta: a guide to the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

By Jessie Sheeler & Robin Gillanders

Birlinn, August 2015, 14.99

This new companion to Little Sparta tells the story of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary creation, exploring the underlying themes, and introducing and explaining the significance of the main elements and artworks in each part of the garden. Featuring new photography, as well as archive material, it also shows how the garden has matured and developed over the last 50 years.

front cover

Price including P&P

If you buy from us we retain one hundred percent of the cover price and all funds are reinvested in conserving the garden.

Page updated 13April 2016

Visiting Little Sparta - summer 2016

Little Sparta is a place for contemplation, intellectual receptiveness and enjoyment. The garden as a whole discloses to the viewer who walks round it many complexities of meaning, sentiment and wit. It is also a fragile place, easily damaged by the northern climate and constantly requiring careful conservation.

For this reason visits to the garden are limited. It is open to the public in June, July, August and September on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons, 2:30-5pm. 

There is no need to make an appointment unless you are organising a visit for a group of 20 or more, in which case, please call Laura Robertson on 07826 495677 or contact her by e-mail. The fee for visiting the garden is 10.

Car parking is about half a mile (700 metres) from the garden and strong footwear is recommended for the track leading up from the car park to Little Sparta.

Dogs are not allowed in the garden.

Driving Directions - SatNav Warning

Little Sparta is reached from Edinburgh by following the A702 as far as Dolphinton, where there is a right turn to Dunsyre. About a mile after passing through Dunsyre, Little Sparta's car park is on the right hand side.

From Glasgow leave the M8 at junction 6 for the A73, then the A721 at Carluke; continue to Newbigging where there is a left turn to Dunsyre. After about 3 miles, and before you reach Dunsyre, Little Sparta's car park  is on the left.

For satnav users, the postcode is ML11 8NG, but be sure to turn in at our car park and not one of the neighbouring farms. SatNav will direct you to turn off the road near a dilapidated phone box: do NOT follow this instruction. Our carpark is about 1.3 miles closer to Dunsyre, directly adjacent to the road. If you don't see a sign saying Little Sparta, you are in the wrong place.

Photography Policy

Little Sparta in its entirety is protected by copyright. On payment of a 5 fee, visitors may take photographs or video for their own private use or study. However, no images of Little Sparta may be published or broadcast without explicit prior permission from Wild Hawthorn Press  (telephone  +44  (0)1899 810252).

Public Transport and Accommodation

Travelling to Little Sparta by public transport is a challenge. One option is to travel by bus from Edinburgh and then either walk 4 miles from the Dunsyre road end, or arrange to meet a pre-booked local taxi.

You can see the timetable for the  Edinburgh-Dumfries bus service 100/101/102 at TravelineScotland.

There are several accommodation options available locally including bed & breakfast and self-catering.

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Photographs by Andrew Lawson except where noted