Charles Jencks, landscape artist, architectural theorist and philanthropist lives near Dumfries at Portrack House. Once a year, he opens his garden, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, to the public in aid of Scotland’s Gardens and Maggie’s (the charity founded in honour of his late wife) for just one day every year. Not surprisingly, it was very popular with around 2,000 visitors over the course of the afternoon, including a few camper-van loads of circus-skill fanatics in interesting leggings.

2014-05-04 16.44.25

The 18th century manor house (substantially extended and altered by James Barbour in 1879) is in an idyllic spot but Jencks and Keswick’s vision has made the surrounding gardens quite remarkable. We only had a couple of hours to spend here and the day was dull but the gardens are amazing to explore with fascinating details everywhere you looked and stimulation for all your senses.

Arthur’s favourite was the garden of six sense (not the ones you think) and mine was the Octagonal folly (a library) and the potting shed. Major potting shed envy.

2014-05-04 16.46.34

The gardens aren’t all artifice and manipulation either. There were some gorgeous old trees, including a beautiful magnolia effectively obscuring one of the house’s windows and a gorgeous woodland walk. Given the time of year, the paths were strewn with masses of bluebells.

2014-05-04 15.52.51 2014-05-04 15.52.58

It’s the kind of garden I’d love to have but am never likely to have the eye, time or money to do. Still, we can dream and it’s always good to see gardens tackling the same soil and climate conditions with such aplomb. They might even have persuaded me on the dubious merits of rhododendrons.

2014-05-04 15.32.15 2014-05-04 16.19.01