The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland is a garden full of majesty and mystery, science and math, art and intrigue. But it is only open to the public for one day out of the entire year. So, when the day comes for it to be open, it’s wise to be prepared ahead of time.
What is the Garden of Cosmic Speculation you ask? It is a 30 acre garden at Portrack House near Dumfries, Scotland and was created by its owner, the American ex-pat architect Charles Jencks. For this garden, he used the inspiration of his then-wife Maggie Keswick and combined it with the many wonders of the natural world plus a healthy dose of math and science-related gardening. Once you alight from the 18th century manor house you walk down a rather sensational set of steps which leads you straight to the garden.
You will encounter sculptural masterpieces such as a towering DNA helix. Representations of fractals and black holes lurk here and there, so keep an eye out for these too. There is also a quite large and grassy mound which represents the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that equal a shell. You can feel the soft grass swaying gently beneath your feet while you stand upon the mound and think of the many wonders in science while you’re enjoying your pastoral surroundings, complete with beautiful man-made lakes that project serenity onto this very special environment.
Professor Peter Higgs (of Higgs boson fame) and Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the Director General of CERN, were so very impressed with the garden that even they would like to find a way of reproducing it at CERN. And to think, all of this came about because Maggie Keswick was looking for a place for her children to play. The area she was thinking about was once a swamp filled with mosquitoes, so work was done to remedy the situation. It was then that a digger took away ten feet of earth and left Maggie and her husband enthralled at how the digger was able form mounds in unusual shapes.
The last words here come from Charles Jencks himself, who explains, “I n the Garden of Cosmic Speculation I try out questioning metaphors, and this means that all design is really double design: that is, solving formal and functional problems, and coming up with new, appropriate metaphors (both visual and verbal). There is a large public fed up with this regressive taste, waiting to feed on a culture that is more nourishing, and true, to life.”