Archive Documents

Stephen Bann – A Description of Stonypath, 1981


During the late 1970s, Ian Hamilton Finlay became increasingly interested in the gardens created by English eighteenth-century poets. In particular, he admired the example of William Shenstone, whose garden named ‘The Leasowes’ was small in scale, but had gained a European reputation by the time of his death. Shenstone’s garden was arranged in woodland valleys around a fairly modest country house (a type known to garden historians as a ‘ferme ornĂ©e’). His preferred emblem was the kingfisher, who is ‘not glorious’, but ‘loves the rivers and woods’ (see the prints that figure in the title page of his Collected Works). His ‘Unconnected Sentences on Gardening’, and other similar lists of sayings, became the direct precedent for Finlay’s publications in a similar vein.