Set in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Finlay moved to the farm of Stonypath in 1966 and, in partnership with his wife Sue Finlay, began to create what would become an internationally acclaimed garden across seven acres of a wild and exposed moorland site.
Collaborating with stone carvers, letterers and at times other artists and poets, the numerous sculptures and artworks created by Finlay, which are all integral to the garden, explore themes as diverse as the sea and its fishing fleets, our relationship to nature, classical antiquity, the French Revolution and the Second World War. Individual poetic and sculptural elements, in wood, stone and metal, are sited in relation to carefully structured landscaping and planting. In this way, the garden in its entirety is the artwork.
Ian Hamilton Finlay & His Work
Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925 – 2006) was a poet, writer, visual artist and gardener. He is now internationally recognised for his work in each of these art forms.
Finlay was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, in 1925. Finlay’s father bootlegged alcohol from Nassau into the USA until the repeal of prohibition laws in 1933, when he and Finlay’s mother unsuccessfully attempted to start an orange-growing business in Florida, before returning to Scotland in straitened circumstances. Finlay himself had been sent to Scotland at the age of six, boarding first at Larchfield School near Helensburgh, then Dollar Academy.
From a single tree to a BioBlitz On the 17 and 18 June 2022 naturalists and the public came together at Little Sparta, a garden in the Pentland Hills 25
It is so sad that Ralph Irving passed away in March this year after a long illness. He was too young to go and will be much missed by
BioBlitz: Discovering the wild side of Little Sparta Book Now What’s out there? Have you wondered what other lifeforms we share a place with? This simple question is surprisingly difficult
New ideas and approaches… The start of summer – of sorts – and almost inevitably the moment our doors open the rain falls, so we have had to endure a
Garden ready to be experienced… A month when the garden is at its freshest, greens at their most vibrant. Everything is now rushing into growth as light and colour shift
Plum and cherry blossom, the freshness of new growth, daffodils still blooming away, much later here than everywhere else it seems, in golden swathes across the hillside by the back