Conservation and restoration of historic gardens
Practitioners predominantly come from backgrounds in horticulture, garden design, landscape design, and landscape architecture. To prepare a management plan for a historic garden, such experts require knowledge and skills in environmental design, horticulture, landscape history, architectural history, and management. Specialist educational programs are available (see section below).
Historic garden restoration is the professional task of restoring historic gardens to the character they had at a previous point in history. Since the use of old gardens is in flux, this normally involves a consideration of current and future use. The job of researching historic gardens and preparing a policy for their conservation involves landscape archaeology, historic knowledge, design judgment and technical skill in horticulture and construction.
Several universities and colleges in England run undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to historic garden conservation.
- Institute of Historical Research - MA in garden and landscape history, Institute of Historical Research (London)
- University of Greenwich - BSc landscape management course, University of Greenwich
- Institute of Continuing Education - historic environment (landscapes and gardens) courses, Institute of Continuing Education (Cambridge)
- Writtle College - BSc garden design, restoration & management, Writtle College
- MA historic designed landscapes, Writtle College
- The University of Bath ran a specialist MSc / PGDip course in the conservation of historic gardens and cultural landscapes, until the 2014-15 academic year.
- The Institut national du patrimoine (The National Institute of Cultural Heritage) trains curators specialized in « scientific, technical and natural heritage ».
Statutory protection exists for registered parks, gardens and designed landscapes. There are separate heritage registers maintained for each of the four countries of the United Kingdom:
- The Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England is maintained by English Heritage;
- The Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales is maintained by Cadw;
- The Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland is maintained by Historic Scotland;
- The Register of Parks, Gardens and Demesnes of Special Historic Interest is maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust, and likewise in Scotland the National Trust for Scotland, own or manage many country houses and/or the gardens and parkland attached to them, as well as other treasured gardens, parks and landscapes, on behalf of the nation.
The Garden History Society is the oldest such society in the world, forming in 1966. It became The Gardens Trust in 2015, having merged with the Association of Gardens Trusts. Its aims are to study garden history and conserve historic gardens. Since 1995 it is a statutory consultee on proposals affecting registered parks, gardens and landscapes in England. It has about 1,500 members and publishes the Garden History journal twice-yearly, as well as a regular members' newsletter. The society has an active group for Scotland, with its own regular newsletter and conservation officer.
The Welsh Historic Gardens Trust is a similar society specifically for gardens, parks and landscapes in Wales. Most of the counties of England also have their own trust, which were represented by the Association of Gardens Trusts, which since 2015 forms part of The Gardens Trust.
In London there is the Garden Museum, covering all aspects of gardening history and with a large and growing collection of historic objects such as old tools and plans.
The Archives of American Gardens is an archive which preserves documentation and content related to gardens in the United States. Housing over 80,000 photographic images and records pertaining to over 6,000 gardens throughout the United States, some as old as the 1870s, the Archive is part of Smithsonian Gardens, a unit of the Smithsonian Institution.
Examples of restoration
Recent and ongoing examples of garden conservation and restoration in England include Lowther Castle in Cumbria, Lever Park in Lancashire, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, Croome Court and Witley Court in Worcestershire, Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, and the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.
- "Historic Parks and Gardens". English Heritage. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Historic Parks and Gardens". Cadw. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Gardens and Designed Landscapes". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes". NIEA. Archived from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- The Gardens Trust
- BBC News Croome parkland restored by National Trust (4 October 2014)