Bosco della Ragnaia, San Giovanni d’Asso (Italy)

European Garden Award 2015


The Bosco, or woods, of the Ragnaia is a park of large trees which covers ten acres. For some years now it has been noted for its curiosity. For example, the Bosco contains the Centre of the Universe. It also has a Little Tabernacle of Big Certainties, The Oracle of Yourself, and Altar of Scepticism and a Book Which Describes Everything but Explains Nothing. The Bosco is not an ordinary wood.

Everywhere there are words, following three large themes. The first of these themes would lie in the tension, or balance, between certainty and doubt. The second theme regards nature: is it there open to us, thrilling and generous, or is it veiled, always just a step beyond our comprehension? The third theme is the mystery of time, one that each gardener feels in his own way.

Not all words, carved into marble, travertine and terracotta or set into masonry, are permanent. This is because words change their meanings in the woods. Sheppard Craige, American artist and creator of the Bosco della Ragnaia, who lives in Italy for over twenty year says that phrases left alone in the woods for a while can dry out and their meaning evaporate.

The Bosco does not offer a meaning, but is, on the contrary, open to all interpretations.

There is another essential in Craige’s work, to be found in the woods and on the garden’s emblem: “If not here, where?” The jury fully agrees, but would also wish to see some “Ragnaia” in other places.

The jury also discussed if Ragnaia, started in 1996, is a real contemporary garden. It is so different from other modern gardens and gives a unique feeling of long grown and being mature. But this discussion ended with “If not now, when?”

Link to Bosco della Ragnaia website