The Culture Trust and Luton Council are celebrating Historic England's decision to classify The Improvement Garden by Ian Hamilton Finlay as a site of Special Historic Interest in England.
The Improvement Garden is considered to be the most important example in England of the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Finlay is widely considered to be the most adventurous and controversial sculptor-cum-landscape designer of the post-war era in Britain.
Originally commissioned by Luton Council in 1986. It was seen as an extraordinarily ambitious and far-sighted commission from an urban local authority in the mid-1980s. Initiated by the Master Gardener Robert Burgoyne as part of a series of formal, high-maintenance gardens.
The inspiration for the sculptures and gardens range from Greek mythology and Roman architecture to the grand landscape gardens of the 18th century and reference the lost mansion and garden of Stockwood Park itself.
Karen Perkins, Director of Culture and Engagement at The Culture Trust Luton said: "The Culture Trust has been a custodian of the gardens at Stockwood for over eleven years and we are excited that The Improvement Garden has been added to the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. We are proud to have this iconic garden here in Luton and free to visit. We will continue to preserve the site for future generations of Lutonians and look forward to welcoming new visitors to enjoy their beauty "
Councillor Paul Castleman, portfolio holder for Place and Infrastructure, said: “Luton has many wonderful parks for residents and visitors to relax in and enjoy. We are delighted that the council’s ambition over 30 years ago in commissioning The Improvement Garden has been recognised through this prestigious award national award. I hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity to visit and enjoy it.”