The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

 The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a 30 acre (12 hectare) sculpture garden created by landscape architect and theorist Charles Jencks at his home, Portrack House, near Dumfries in South West Scotland.

Forty major areas, gardens, bridges, landforms, sculptures, terraces, fences and architectural works.  The garden uses nature to celebrate nature, both intellectually and through the senses, including the sense of humor.  A water cascade of steps recounts the story of the universe, a terrace shows the distortion of space and time caused by a black hole, a “Quark Walk” takes the visitor on a journey to the smallest building blocks of matter, and a series of landforms and lakes recall fractal geometry.

 The garden is not abundant with plants, but sets mathematical formulae and scientific phenomenae in a setting which elegantly combines natural features and artificial symmetry and curves. It is probably unique among gardens, drawing comparisons with a similarly abstract garden in Scotland, Little Sparta.

 The garden is private but usually opens on one day each year for 5 hours[Sunday 5 May 12:00pm – 5:00pm] through Scotland’s Gardens Scheme and raises money for Maggie’s Centres, a cancer care charity named for Maggie Keswick Jencks, the late wife of Charles Jencks.

 The garden is the subject of an orchestral composition by American composer, Michael Gandolfi, which he composed for a joint commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center. The piece was subsequently recorded by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano, and nominated for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition” at the 2009 Grammy Awards.

Perhaps viewed as an unconventional approach to landscaping, the garden features a dizzying display of geometric fractals that all illuminate – or at least are inspired by – concepts of black holes, string theory, and the “Big Bang.” The garden features five major areas connected by a number of man-made lakes, bridges and other architectural works, including large white staircases and terraces that zigzag down a green hillside, representing the story of the creation of the universe.

















To see the world in a Grain of Sand, the poetic insight of William Blake, is to find relationships between the big and small, science and spirituality, the universe and the landscape. This cosmic setting provides the narrative for my content-driven work, the writing and design. I explore metaphors that underlie both growing nature and the laws of nature, parallels that root us personally in the cosmos as firmly as a plant, even while our mind escapes this home.

Charles Jencks designs landscapes and sculpture and writes on cosmogenic art.  He is known for his books questioning Modern architecture and defining its successors – Late, New and Post-Modern architecture, and is the co-founder of Maggie Cancer Caring Centres. He is married to Louisa Lane Fox who published an Anthology of Letters and Diaries from Parents to Children: ‘Love to the little ones’ in 2009.

Has lectured at over forty universities throughout the world including Peking, Shanghai, Paris (École des Beaux-Arts), Tokyo, Milan, Venice, Frankfurt, Quebec, Montreal, Oslo, Warsaw, Barcelona, Lisbon, Zurich, Vienna and Edinburgh; and in US at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale and various public museums.

Harvard University, BA English Lit., 1961. GSD BA and MA Architecture, 1965. London University, PhD, Architectural History, 1970.

Info Wikipedia, Atlas Obscura

Images Charles, Kuriositas

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