Arty gardens: escape Festival madness to these beautiful outdoor spaces

This article is from 2016

Preview: Arty Gardens

'From Hear to Ear', Céleste Boursier-Mougenot / credit: Ruth Clark

Edinburgh has plenty of options to be immersed in Festival art with added tranquility

The List's Visual Art Editor Rachael Cloughton picks some of the best gardens for art lovers to explore in and around Edinburgh during the festival …

Jupiter Artland
Take a half-hour bus ride to West Lothian and you'll arrive at one of the most remarkable sculpture parks you'll ever visit – Jupiter Artland. Grand outdoor works by some of the most influential contemporary artists, including Antony Gormley, Nathan Coley and Cornelia Parker, are dispersed across the 100-acre site, which was set up by the art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson in 2009. There's also a programme of temporary exhibitions and this year's Christian Boltanski show is worth the journey alone.
Bonnington House Steadings, Wilkieston, daily 10am–5pm through Jul & Aug.

Calton Hill
The philosopher David Hume lobbied Edinburgh Council to build a walk 'for the health and amusement of the inhabitants' and in 1724 the town council bought Calton Hill, making it one of the first public parks in the country. The site is most famous for its collection of historic monuments – such as the neoclassical architect William Playfair's 'National Monument,' an unfinished reconstruction of the Parthenon. However, art lovers on the hunt for something more contemporary should check out the Collective Gallery, one of Edinburgh's most cutting edge, artist-led spaces.
Collective Gallery, City Observatory and City Dome, Calton Hill, daily 10am–6pm during Aug.

Royal Botanic Garden
Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens are a city centre oasis, with 70 acres of lush flora from all over the world. But for art lovers, the main draw is Inverleith House, an 18th-century mansion hosting a consistently acclaimed programme of temporary exhibitions. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the gallery and to celebrate, it's hosting I Still Believe in Miracles, which presents a retrospective of the space's huge contribution to the city's art scene over the last three decades and includes work by Louise Bourgeois, Isa Genzken and Nicolas Party.
Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row, Tue–Sun 10am–5.30pm.

Little Sparta
Set in the rolling Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh, Little Sparta represents renowned Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay's greatest work. Little Sparta comprises ten different gardens, each designed to evoke a different character and mood, and an astonishing 270 works by Finlay. The artist's most familiar themes, such as the contradictory relationship between culture and nature, are particularly resonant in this dramatic setting.
Stonypath, Dunsyre, until 30 Sep (Mon, Wed & Fri only), 2.30–5pm.