Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Jun 12, 2014 12:52 PM


Composer Michael Gandolfi


Near Dumfries in southern Scotland is a private garden unlike any other garden in the world. Designed by land architect Charles Jenks, it takes as its inspiration modern scientific discoveries about the nature of the universe and its underlying mathematics.

 A water cascade of steps moves up from a pond, each step recounting an event in the formation of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day. A terraced mound presents a visualization of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. The distortion of space and time by black holes, the double helix form of DNA, soliton waves of energy — these all inspired aspects of the garden.  Forty major areas covering 30 acres present lakes and landforms, sculptures and architectural works celebrating the mystery of nature and the cosmos. Jenks calls it The Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

The garden has been a source of inspiration as well to composer Michael Gandolfi . He is the chair of the composition department at the New England Conservatory of music in Boston, and was chosen to receive the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra‘s 2014 Composer’s Award. He has written nearly an hour of music inspired by different sections of the garden.  The Lancaster Symphony performed a section of his work called the Garden of the Senses.

The garden is open only one day every year to the public, an aspect that adds to its mystery and attraction. But Michael Gandolfi  has offered that if anyone would like to visit the garden, he might be able to help arrange it. His email address is

Below is a gallery of images from Charles Jenks Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

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