30th March 2017

A glorious book but no local gardens

Close. A Journey in Scotland. Photography by Allan Pollok-Morris. Exhibition at Bonhoga Gallery from Saturday 14th February.

This glorious coffee table book of photographs and text is a hymn to gardens in Scotland. Formal or informal, swathes of public landscape or intimate spaces, the book covers the whole range of garden types and records the struggle and artistry of those who create them. Images from the book, which features gardens from the Lowlands to the Highlands, will be on show at the Bonhoga Gallery from tomorrow.

The photographs from Glasgow-born photo-journalist Allan Pollok-Morris are inspirational. Some, such as of the swirling banks and water feature outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, are clearly too grand to copy at home, but others of nooks and crannies depicting groups of plantings could be.

There are glimpses of surprising objects such as an egg-shaped cairn, a carved garden seat amid cacti and a statue nestling in a sea of ox-eye daisies. Individual plants and trees are captured too, and the very ordinary such as a wooden hen house and stile.

One of the most eye-catching is a waterfall of stairs from Charles Jencks representing the story of the universe, showing that gardens and garden architecture and design can be enjoyed intellectually as well as through the senses. Or the stone pyramid from Niall Manning and Alastair Morton in Stirlingshire, in a garden created over 20 years from a open field to capture a “spirit of place”.

Or the riot of colour in the gardens of Cawdor Castle where the Dowager Countess Angelika planted a holly maze and gardens symbolising earth, paradise and the Garden of Eden and where some of the lime trees date back to 1717.

In the book, and the exhibition, the garden photographs are arranged in a logical south to north order, although sadly there are none of Shetland gardens. In the text which accompanies the book’s photos there is explanation of what the garden creator aimed to achieve – this comes from Andy Goldsworthy, Ian Hamilton Finlay (whose garden Little Sparta was voted the most important Scottish work of art in a Scotland on Sunday poll in 2004) and Penelope Hobhouse, and others, and shows what is possible.

Close. A Journey in Scotland is available in The Shetland Times Bookshop for £17.49 (the normal retail price is £19.99).

Rosalind Griffiths