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Head Gardener’s Diary

Little Sparta’s Head Gardener, George Gilliland, has overseen the maintenance and development of the garden, and the conservation of its numerous individual artworks, since 2012. Until 2016, George’s work was supported by gardener Ralph Irving, who worked with Ian Hamilton Finlay and Sue Finlay for many years. This continuity has ensured Finlay’s original vision for the garden is maintained. George’s work today is supported by members of the Little Sparta Trust and by volunteers. This page features George’s monthly Gardener’s Diary, published with the Little Sparta Newsletters.

  • February 2021

    A month of two halves.   It seems strange to be writing now in springlike sunshine at the end of a month of its beginnings in freezing snow.  It is

  • January 2021

    Freeze – thaw – freeze (repeat).   Snow is the mainstay of this month, as everything is whitened and covered over. There are bright days and the air is clear,

  • December 2020

    The end of a year like no other.   Short dark days are pierced through with low sun and long shadows. There are the first frosts as we steadily slip

  • November 2020

    It’s beginning to feel like winter.   The sequence of works for late autumn continues alongside the gradual seasonal change towards colder shorter days. There is more heavy rainfall and

  • October 2020

    Hidden words…   The most visible seasonal change in the structure of the garden takes place this month as all of the artworks are covered, brought into storage or packed

  • September 2020

    Like a windmill turn, turn turn…   The World’s Oldest Windmill turns again and we are into autumn – almost on the point of the equinox the change in season

  • August 2020

    Heathery hills.   A month of contrasts as we seem to be on the receiving end of every storm or front – low clouds caught on the hills emptying themselves

  • July 2020

    Lost in greenness… The full flush of summer brings with it, almost inevitably, a change to grey skies and downpours – the narrow edges of tall rain drenched grass pathways

  • June 2020

    A moment of lightness and balance…   Warm muggy days of early summer are dappled with vibrant green leaf light. The colour is luxuriant. Comfrey, meconopsis and lilac are in

  • May 2020

    A serene summer ahead…   Spring days extend themselves. As the daffodils go over the gorse comes into bloom, its coconutty scent an almost exotic fragrant surprise.   Forget-me-nots, cowslips