Strolling through the Portrack House gardens in Scotland is not just walking among the splendor of nature. It goes further. In literal sense, because they invite to go for a stroll around the enigmas of the cosmos. For that, Portrack’s House formula is to fuse in equal parts the artistic intervention, the scientific knowledge and the own forms of nature. What for? First, to satisfy our senses and then to provoke a reflection on our own existence.

That was the purpose of its owners and creators: the American architect Charles Jencks and his wife Maggie Keswick, one of the most prestigious landscapers worldwide until her death in 1995, in her incredible Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack House.

The Universe Cascade, emblematic image of Portrack House

The Universe Cascade, emblematic image of Portrack House

In short, here the typical rose gardens of British gardens become a landscape creation of the land-art movement in which contemplation is only the first step. An aesthetic provocation for the spectators to speculate, reflect and think about scientific issues as complex as the origin of the universe, the black holes that absorb and generate matter or the theory of chaos.

Portrack House estate and house

Portrack House estate and house

Cosmic landscaping

In Great Britain, there are many historic gardens, always excellently maintained. However, Portrack House is different. Here there is not much of the traditional vegetation. Only lawn and large trees are used from time to time, in addition to some flower areas but very localized and with a very innovative visual treatment.

Portrack House garden

This area of flower beds is the closest thing to traditional British gardens

On the other hand, the protagonists of this garden are the slopes, hills or ponds, all created for the occasion. And in many cases conceived as sculptures or figures of clear geometrical memory.

Portrack House

The water of the ponds serves to reflect the nature, the firmament and the geometry created by the man

This geometry is reinforced by the presence of checkerboards in white and green, spirals or curves for bridges and paths marked in red on the grass carpet.

Walk and speculate

All these elements are not mere adornments; each of them is a visual explanation to scientific theories. For example, those chess sets that converge to disappear as if swallowed by Earth would be a representation of the mysterious black holes of the cosmos.

Portrack House garden

Representation of cosmic black holes

Those dynamic spirals that are a gigantic and unique representation of the most personal and non-transferable thing we have: our DNA.

Portrack House Spiral evoking DNA

Spiral evoking DNA

Not to mention those bridges, especially striking in the area of ​​Jumping Bridge that set out the butterfly effect, according to which, the slightest act anywhere on the planet can have a huge and sometimes catastrophic repercussion in very distant points.

Curious shapes of Jumping Bridge

Curious shapes of Jumping Bridge

The visit to Portrack House

These and other theories are emerging walking through the gardens of Portrack House. We are convinced that you would love to take a walk there and make your own speculations, ramble or simply admire this work in which architecture, landscaping, engineering, sculpture and science come together. However, getting it is not easy and there are only two options.

Art imitating natural forms

Art imitating natural forms

One of them is being friends with the owner, Charles Jencks, and receive an invitation. Something we know is not easy, given that he is a busy man and that despite his age, does not stop working. Portrack House is an inhabited and private estate, which is why it is not permanently open to visitors.


Image of Charles Jencks, in the gardens created with his wife Maggie Keswick

And the other way to enter this fantastic place is to take advantage of the few days that opens its doors to tourists. Something that is published with time in this web of the Scottish gardens. This year for example has already opened on April 30th, so from Horse we recommend you to keep in mind this destination for a trip to Scotland next spring and pay attention to the opening days.

In the meantime you can start looking at photos of the place on the Internet while listening to the music of the composer Michael Gandolfi, a musician from Boston who made a piece in 2009 inspired by Portrack House, which even was nominated at the Grammy Awards that year in the category of Best Contemporary Classical Work.

Translated by: Raquel Sanchez