The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
The other-worldly garden of Charles Jencks.
Is there any more impactful type of architecture than that which seeks to realize the unknown?
In South West Scotland lies the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, a 30 acre sculpture garden designed by Charles Jencks. The garden blurs the line between cosmic reality and fantastical reimagining.
Carved into lush, green hillsides are undulating contours, recalling a galaxy; comet-like red bridges arc over the landscape; winding rivers speak to our own uncertain path throughout the cosmos. Jencks’ fusion of what we know and what we don’t helps to contextualize the unconceivable. After all, as Jencks once said, “What is a garden if not a miniaturization, and celebration, of the place we are in, the universe?”
Perhaps the structure that best captures this idea is “The Universe Cascade,” an experience analogous to the evolution of our universe. Visitors start at the top of the installation, a small white building, representative of our present-day world. From the house streams a white staircase, each of its 25 landings illustrating a previous celestial era. The stairway ends at the foot of a pond, pointing to the heaven’s mysterious beginnings.
The garden, usually private to the public, opens on one day a year for five hours for 1500 ticket holders. The garden’s poignant message extends beyond its sculptures: Proceeds from ticket sales raise money for Maggie’s Centres. This charity program, dedicated to helping those affected by cancer, was founded after Charles Jencks’ late wife, Maggie Jencks, died of cancer in 1995.
In a time when traveling can be difficult, we hope that the images of Garden of Cosmic Speculation can transport you to another world—and that its message of hope grounds you in reality.
Images by John Jencks. Words by Violet Goldstone.