Once a year in May, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation by Charles Jencks is open to the public. The garden is located on a private residence known as the Portrack House near the town of Dumfries in Scotland. Started in 1988 it was dedicated to Jencks’ late wife Maggie Keswick.
The garden has such a name because Jencks, Keswick, scientists, and their friends designed the garden based on natural and scientific processes. Jencks goal was to celebrate nature, but he also incorporated elements from the modern sciences into the design.
Below you will find a collection of pictures, most by photographer Paulus Maximus, who took two trips to the Garden in 2006 and 2008; along with additional information on the garden and Charles Jencks himself. Enjoy!
THE GARDEN OF COSMIC SPECULATION BY CHARLES JENCKS
Preserving paths and the beauty of the garden is still evident but Jencks enhances the garden using new tools and artificial materials. Just as Japanese Zen gardens, Persian paradise gardens, the English and French Renaissance gardens were analogies of the cosmic universe, the design of Jencks’ garden represents the cosmic and cultural evolution of the contemporary world.
The garden represents a microcosm of the universe. As one walks through the garden they are experiencing the cosmic universe in miniature. According to Jencks, gardens are like autobiographies because they reveal the happiest moments, the tragedies, and the truths about a person. As the garden developed since 1988, so too did such sciences as cosmology and this allowed a dynamic interaction between the unfolding universe, a progressing science and design.
Jencks believes that contemporary science is potentially the greatest moving force for creativity of our time because it tells us the truth about the way the universe is. Cosmic passion, the desire both to know and to relate to the universe, is one of the strongest drives in sentient creatures. The laws of nature may be omnipotent, but they can also be challenged. A garden is a perfect place to try out these speculations and celebrations because it is a bit of man-made nature, a fabricated and ideal cosmic landscape, and a critique of the way the universe is.
Jencks has become a leading figure in British landscape architecture. His landscape work is inspired by fractals, genetics, chaos theory, waves and solitons. In Edinburgh, Scotland, he designed the Landform at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in collaboration with Terry Farrell and Duncan Whatmore of Terry Farrell and Partners. These themes are expanded in his own private garden, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, at Portrack House near Dumfries. He is also a furniture designer and sculptor, completing the DNA Sculpture in London’s Kew Gardens in 2003.
Jencks studied under the Modern architectural historians Siegfried Giedion and Reyner Banham. He first received his BA in English Literature at Harvard University in 1961, later gaining an MA in architecture from the Graduate School of Design in 1965. He took his studies even further and received his PhD in Architectural History from University College, London in 1970. [Source]