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This poem is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

More Detached Sentences on Gardening in the Manner of Shenstone Ian Hamilton Finlay

Gardening activity is of five kinds, namely, sowing, planting, fixing, placing, maintaining. In so far as gardening is an Art, all these may be taken under the one head, composing.

Take a small grove of pine trees and dry-pave the ground with common brick. Now sweep the fallen pine-needles around the base of each tree.

Where the viewer is solitary, imagination is the scale.

In our climate, why should we not provide some of our garden features at least with shadow - formed, say, of brick - in lieu of the sun?

Et in Arcadia ego: the cool root of stone, pleasing to the earthworm, renders the classical (as opposed to the plant) garden very vulnerable to the mole.

The Upper Pool, Little Sparta Photograph by Dave Paterson
The Upper Pool, Little Sparta [Photograph by Dave Paterson]

Strawberries grown in hollow logs stood upright, are not inferior to small orchards, in the pleasure given by the bark, and leaves, and fruit.

Formal gardens are (as it were) statues of Nature.

A little too much is just enough for July.

It is permissible, in the Art of gardening, to substitute a mooring-post for a boat.

What an extraordinary apparition is a tree in leaf!

People who say that there are three dimensions have never practised the art of brick laying. They should read Duns Scotus: 'Every quantity has extension in three dimensions: length, width, and depth. These three dimensions in turn, are extended to the number six, for length extends upward and downward, width to the right and to the left, and depth frontward and backward.' - And that is only the beginning.

The small caves formed by Meadowsweet should now and then be inhabited by a comprehensible fragment of light-coloured stone.

Detail of the Obelisk beside the Upper Pool, Little Sparta Photograph by Dave Paterson
Detail of the Obelisk beside the Upper Pool, Little Sparta [Photograph by Dave Paterson]

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