The garden contains over 270 artworks set into what Ian Hamilton Finlay described as ‘specific landscapes’, areas of individual character and mood. These areas are:
The Front Garden is where the original cottage garden of the old farmstead of Stonypath was, and was the first part of Little Sparta to be developed by Ian Hamilton Finlay with his wife Sue. It still retains its avenue of red currant bushes and patch of raspberry canes.
The Roman Garden. This tree-shaded corner in the Front Garden has pots of hosta plants set on an irregular grid of paving stones. Amongst them are six stone works on plinths, variations on the theme of warships and their modern airborne equivalents.
Julie’s Garden. This secluded little garden is sheltered on two sides by trees and on a third by a wall of the Temple building. It is named after the secret garden in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s sentimental novel Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise.
The Allotment & Kailyard. These productive vegetable gardens on opposite sides of the Temple of Baucis and Philemon evoke the simple life of two very different epochs.
The Temple Pool Garden. In some ways this is the centre of the garden. It is sheltered on three sides by the Hortus Conclusus (Ian Hamilton Finlay’s last design for the garden) and the two temples created from the old farm outbuildings, and on the fourth side by the artist’s house. The stillness of the pool is only slightly stirred by the small fountain that feeds it. Its surface is a mirror for the foliage and the art works surrounding it.
The Woodland Garden adjoins the Temple Pool, paths leading and turning to the rest of the garden.
The Wild Garden climbs to the rear of the house, bordering on the hills beyond.
Lochan Eck Garden fringes the open water with the monolithic Nuclear Sail rising over the scene.
The English Parkland is a broad, open area, the most recently developed section of the garden.
The Monument to the First Battle of Little Sparta. The first work the visitor encounters, dedicated to the struggles in founding the garden.