Garden History

Course CodeBHT329
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Develop an appreciation for the meaning of gardens

If you are to get the most enjoyment out of a painting, then some knowledge of painting techniques and styles will assist you. Likewise, to fully appreciate a game of cricket then a basic grounding in the rules and tactics of play is important. In a similar way, it can be argued that in order to fully understand garden design and the role of gardens in today's world, an appreciation of the evolution of garden history is extremely beneficial. Garden history will enlighten you, and vastly expand the scope of possibilities you have before you as a modern garden designer.

  • Study Heritage Gardens and the history of gardening.
  • Learn how to design different styles of gardens from history.
  • Discover new opportunities for working in garden design, development and maintenance.
  • Study conservation of historical gardens.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Ancient Middle Eastern Gardens
    • Chinese Gardens
    • UK Garden History
    • Important English Landscapers
    • Europe; Spanish Gardens, Monastery Gardens, Le Notre
    • The World; Olmstead, Burle Marx, Australian Bush Garden, Permaculture
    • The World's First Plant Collectors
    • Reasons for Studying Garden History
    • Scope of Garden Conservation
  2. Development of Private Gardens
    • Early Private Gardens
    • Persian Gardens
    • Sino Japanese Gardens
    • Hispano Arabic Gardens
    • Italian
    • French
    • English
  3. Development of Public and Commercial Landscapes
    • Earliest Public Gardens
    • Development of the English Park
    • The Park Today
    • Factors Influencing Development of Parks
    • Streetscapes and Public Landscapes
  4. Great Gardens & Gardeners of the World
    • Villa D'Este
    • Villa Lante
    • Vaux-le-Viconte
    • Versailles
    • Stowe
    • Hidcote Manor
  5. People who Influenced Gardens
    • Sir Frances Bacon
    • Joseph Furttenbach
    • Sir Joseph Banks
    • Edward Beard Budding
    • Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward
    • Plant Collectors -review of around 40 important collectors over the 19th and 20th centuries
  6. Globalisation of Gardens
    • Indian Influences
    • Chinese Influences
    • Japanese Influence
    • Eclecticism in the nineteenth and twentieth century
    • Resurgence of the Renaissance Garden
    • Influence of William Robinson and Gertrude Jeckyll
    • Burle Marx
    • Permaculture Gardens
  7. Scope and Nature of Modern Garden Conservation
    • Introduction
    • Approaches to Conservation
    • Conservation Policy
    • Collecting Information for Garden Conservation
    • Storing Information for Garden Conservation
  8. The Role of Organisations in Garden Conservation
    • English Heritage
    • Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England
    • The Impact of Registering Sites
    • CABE Space
    • National Trust
    • Royal Horticultural Society
    • Garden History Society
    • AGHS


  • •Become familiar with a brief outline of garden history, reasons for studying garden history, and the scope and nature of garden conservation today.
    • •Discuss the development of private gardens through to the present day and to identify the influence of key factors such as wealth, status, war, travel and function.
    • •Discuss the development of public gardens and commercial landscapes through to the present day and to identify the influence of key factors such as wealth, status, war, travel and function.
    • •Provide examples of gardens and designed landscapes associated with individuals and illustrate the association both from historic and contemporary perspectives.
    • •Identify key individuals such as designers, horticulturists, plant hunters and writers who have influenced horticulture
    • •Describe how various influences from different countries have come together in the modern world to impact on garden designs and built landscape developments, across the modern world, in places other than where those cultural, historic or other influences first originated.
    • •Identify the value of gardens and designed landscapes in terms such as education, heritage, leisure, tourism, plant conservation, economy and conservation of skills;
    • •Identify and assess threats to these landscapes and available mitigation measures including legal safeguards; Show an awareness of planning policy, planning law and planning bodies.
    • •Explain the role of ‘English Heritage’ and its equivalents in promoting and protecting significant landscapes; and the role of the Register of Parks & Gardens of Special Historic Interest; Describe the role of other organisations such as CABE Space, Local Authorities, Historic Houses Association, Garden History Society, National Trust, Council for Conservation of Plants, and private owners of gardens

Scope and nature of garden conservation today

Conservation is an important component of garden history. By preserving our garden heritage we are able to inform not only our own understanding of the evolution of garden history, but also that of future generations.  In the UK, for example, there exist gardens and parks which span many centuries of history. These range from medieval knot gardens to eighteenth century landscape gardens, extravagant Victorian gardens to those of the post war era. The types of gardens preserved include country estates, public parks and town gardens. Each represents the fashions and ideals of their time and the shifting social circumstances of those generations. Their preservation enables us to look through a window in time.

Throughout the world, garden conservation has developed as a means of preserving history. Heritage trusts and conservation societies have evolved to save and restore these gardens so as to provide a link between past and present. Garden conservation requires the skills of many different professionals. Heritage trusts are usually government backed and may award grants for worthwhile restoration projects as well as undertake conservation of existing gardens. The types of professionals employed by English Heritage include:
  • Landscape architects: to provide advice on restoration of gardens, parks and landscapes  
  • Conservation consultants: to undertake research and to advise on policies and standards
  • Landscape managers: responsible for overseeing garden maintenance projects
  • Head gardeners: to manage a team of gardeners responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of plants, to curate plant collections, and implement management plans
  • Advisors: to offer advice on, and to upkeep, a register of parks and gardens

Garden conservation societies are usually voluntary organisations which rely on income from memberships. They may also hold some sway with government. For instance, the Garden History Society in the UK is often consulted by the government in relation to a wide range of issues pertaining to historic gardens. This society also has clear aims which include the promotion of the study of garden history, the promotion of conservation of historic gardens and restoration advice, and to encourage the development of new garden projects.

In addition to preserving the buildings and landscapes of historic gardens, conservation also entails the preservation and documentation of plant collections.


Opportunities Following Study

Garden history not only fulfils a need to understand how gardens have evolved and how they reflect our culture but knowledge of garden history can be of value in a number of different fields such as:

  • Garden Design
  • Landscaping
  • Garden renovation & restoration
  • Conservation
  • History
  • Working for councils or heritage trusts
  • Grounds staff at parks & gardens



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