Wednesday, October 8, 2014


At Little Sparta
photograph by George Gilliland

October 6, 2014

Hello Bob,

You won't remember me but I got some books off you many years back when I was in Northern Ireland - I was introduced to your work by Alec Finlay.

Anyway, life's quirks and turns have now brought me to where I am gardener at Little Sparta for the past 3 years and I have been enjoying the Birdhouse dispatches - and especially after todays piece thought I should get in touch again.

The house at Little Sparta and Ian's library is turning into a study centre - I don't know if you ever visited, but I came across some of your books as we were moving everything.

The garden has just closed for the year and I am putting everything under wraps - it looks like a ghost of itself….

All best wishes,


George Gilliland


October 6, 2014

Dear George,

I have many loves to speak of having your letter today — that you came my way through the book trade, from northern Ireland ( my mother's birthplace! ) and via Eck. Very nice. Quite nice. And everlasting.

Now you tell me you are a gardener at Little Sparta! Exceptional. I've no idea who has an eye on my daily Birdhouse but I am very thankful you dropped me a note about my wee one for Thoreau and Ian. I'll never have letters from him again, or to think he is up and about and capable of making and sending more postcards, booklets, and heaving grand statues onto the landscape. What a fellow.

I'm glad you are there. Ever thanks for letting me know some of my books gifted to Ian are still about the premises.

I never made it over. Ian had some dream notion of having me there to build him a stone hut. Eck said at the time his father was serious. The dream will last me until the end of time.

Take care of the place.

all's well, Bob

Bob Arnold


October 7, 2014

Hello Bob,

Many thanks for your reply - its always fascinating to see how things connect - a grand idea for a stone hut - - pity, it would have sat very well in the landscape here. I write a little bit about the garden each month, which might be interesting for you if only for the photos which show how the garden is now in its maturity, and how it looks out of season too when I have it all to myself -

Could you also let me know the price to send a couple of your more recent books to Scotland - Beautiful Days and the Love poems..

Again, all best,



Please tap onto this link for much more of George Gilliland, Little Sparta, and the current rhymes and rhythms of Ian Hamilton Finlay's home and garden. George's monthly garden journal is a treasury ~

  correspondence 2014  © bob  arnold, george gilliland

permission to reprint at A Longhouse Birdhouse was granted by both authors