Adam’s face in this photo speaks volumes – like arriving at the Glastonbury Festival, we parked with gazillions of ‘the grey pounds’ in a now-ruined field, before filing patiently into the modest steading around this complex and experimental garden.

There were inept child pipers entertaining the hordes, and I always enjoy that kind of thing. Our fellow visitors unintentionally ruined our trip – and us theirs, of course. Between their Goretex and fleece we caught glimpses of the sculpted green-ness of what reads largely as a mausoleum for Jencks’ late wife Maggie, whose family home we’re at. The famousearthwork reads to me as a garden for a bereaved man, and all the better for that.

But I found myself pondering how constant the sound of mowing must be to keep this feature (too modest a term really) trim, assuming sheep are not grazed upon it. Perhaps, like an Edwardian country gent, Jencks’ insists this happens when he’s off in town.

I’ve never visited Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, but from its plentiful photographic documentation I perceive a problem similar to that encountered with Jencks’: the discomfort of text within the garden. For some reason, I find text – whether factual, memorial, ironic or sloganeering – to beas much of a diversion in the landscape as it is in the art gallery.

In clearings around the main suite of garden ‘rooms’, you find many rather unsuccessful experiments in design or material use, and even some rather conventional, finely-kept borders of – wait for it – flowers and shrubs. I enjoyed all of these. Seldom does one get to visit a private garden which retains such a feeling of the passing stylistic and conceptual interests of its maker. So, it may result in an awful 1980’s Po-Mo folly, or too many mazes, but our forebears will likely sweep away our ‘mistakes’ in good time, so there’s no need for us to do it ourselves in some dreadful revisionist attempt.
Why not, like a collector of fine antiques, content oneself with allowing a little dust to gather on our more youthful passions, kept in their own cupboard in the less-visited room of the house? Jencks’ many gardens can be read as a diary of someone with much going on outside his interest in horticulture.

Recovering from the extensive meander around the gardens, we had tea and noticed this beguiling rock and binbag arrangement.

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