Betania Garden – Rich and Detailed Composition With Minimum Amount of Moves

Sarah Cowles of Ruderal presents their design for the Betania Garden near Tbilisi, Georgia, which was awarded LILA 2023 Special Mention in the Garden category. We start the discussion with an update on Arsenal Oasis, another LILA-winning project from 2021 (See the presentation).

For the Betania Garden, the LILA 2023 jury wrote:

At first glance, this garden completely ignores or even challenges all the dogmas of garden design ‘by the book’. However, at a closer look, it offers a number of appropriate statements and manages to remain open to interpretations.

The oversized stairs seem to have no excuse, yet they embody a sculptural dimension whilst providing seating in a peculiar grove of densely planted trees and shrubs. More importantly, the stairs lead out of the garden, through a small door in a wooden fence, into the forest, where a ‘forest garden’ ambience is achieved by almost nothing – a table and a hammock.

There are several different dialogues between pastureland and forest, private and public, an object and its context, inside and outside, but above all, between a garden as a notion and its relation to the surroundings. The design seems to be based on questioning, yet it feels entirely confident at the same time.

This garden is full of deliberate contradictions, contrasts, beautiful strangeness, and the jury was inspired by the scope of questions it poses with so little.

Published on November 6, 2023

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