castle garden of water to beyond

Twelve months in a Japanese garden in Edinburgh

Setting Out

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A couple of years ago I spent a day with friends walking on Blackford Hill and Braid Hill on the south side of Edinburgh. It was all part of Shadows of our Ancestors, a project for World Heritage Day, and we were thinking about Scotland in terms of the Romans, and the Antonine Wall – not so much historically or archaeologically, but in terms of how that imperial and military culture played out in the city and the wider landscape today.

It was a good day, and we said we should do something similar again, but it never quite happened. Then at the end of 2013 I had a notion to visit the Japanese Garden at Lauriston Castle monthly over the coming year, maybe writing a monthly poem or journal, and taking photos and blogging the visits as well… just the regularity of a monthly visit, and see what happens. And then I thought I’d invite the others along too… so this blog records some of what we’ve done in the gardens, and what they moved us to make afterwards.

On my first visit, I came across a sign saying the Japanese name for the garden means “Castle Garden to Water of Beyond”, hence the title – the “Water of Beyond” being the Firth of Forth, with Cramond Island just offshore, and the Fife hills beyond.

Ken Cockburn


January 2014


Author: Castle Garden of Water to Beyond 2014

Poet Ken Cockburn decided to visit the Japanese garden at Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh once a month during 2014, and to invite a group of friends to join him on these visits. The idea is to get a sense of the garden as it changes over the year, to meet and talk socially in an outdoor setting, and to make of it what we will…

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