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Managing Notable Gardens and Landscapes

Course CodeBHT340
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Manage Notable Gardens & Landscapes 

Expand your skills to manage notable landscapes and gardens. This course will:

  • Discuss appropriate management strategies to ensure the long-term survival of plants and garden features.
  • Identify and evaluate sources of funding and associated issues.
  • Identify and discuss the issues concerned with the presentation of a site to visitors.

Gardens are significant to a country's heritage. They encapsulate the culture and prevailing philosophies of the time. Like everything else, gardens are prone to change. Sometimes changes are needed to improve gardens, sometimes merely to try and conserve them or restore elements of them. This course will equip students with an appreciation of how to look after heritage gardens through making the most of resources and staff management as well as making decisions which are in keeping with the ambience of the garden and the requirements of stakeholders.

This course will be of most value to people working in:

  • Parks & gardens
  • Garden conservation & restoration
  • Stately homes
  • Garden tourism
Some sites may have significant wildlife, archaeological and scientific interest; they are also often the grounds in which buildings of historical significance are situated.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Role and Formulation of Conservation Management Plans
    • Introduction: types of notable landscapes
    • The role of conservation management plans
    • Why research is important
    • National registers
    • Other sources of information
    • Gathering and organising the documentary information
    • The site survey
    • Reporting the research
    • Formulating conservation management plans
    • Writing the plan
  2. Consult Public and Interested Parties, Statutory and Non-Statutory Consultees.
    • The consultation process
    • Stakeholders
    • Community participation strategy
    • Collecting and analyzing data
    • Primary data research
    • Secondary data research
    • Steps for collection and analysis of data
    • Planning a formal survey
    • Designing a questionnaire
    • Common problems
    • PBL project to formulate criteria required for the successful consultation with all relevant stakeholders, in the implementation of a maintenance program for a notable garden.
  3. Role of Public and other Sources of Funding
    • Funding restoration and conservation
    • Examples of funding objectives
    • Large funding bodies
    • Other funding bodies
    • Grant aid criteria
    • Funding applications
    • Other sources of funds
    • Other cost considerations for sites open to the public
    • Plant sales, garden shop, tea rooms, etc
  4. Planning for Renewal of Plant Features
    • Plant surveys
    • Current plantings
    • Other considerations
    • Using experts
    • Trees
    • When not to retain a tree
    • Sourcing plant material
    • Collecting seed
    • Selecting a parent plant
    • Timing
    • Method of seed collecting
    • Removing seeds
    • Replanting strategies
  5. Developing New Features within Existing Landscapes
    • Type of actions: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, reconstruction
    • Principles to follow
    • Car parks
    • Surfacing
    • Pebble and cobble paving
    • Fencing
    • Dry stone walls
    • Steps
    • Ramps
    • Railings
    • Retaining walls
    • Brick
    • Drainage
    • Timber
    • Stone
    • Rockeries
  6. Programming Repair of New and Existing Hard Landscape Features.
    • Introduction
    • Action plans: preparing maintenance management schedules
    • Managing and storing records
    • Hard copy information
    • Classifying information
    • Active and inactive records
    • Data protection
    • Fundamental maintenance tasks: drainage, paving
    • Maintaining stone and brick walls
    • Maintaining ponds
    • PBL Project to formulate a Maintenance Schedule for the repair of new and existing hard landscape features.
  7. Creating New Gardens and Landscapes.
    • Principles of landscape design
    • Design elements
    • Gathering site information
    • The base plan
    • Basic surveying
    • Design drawing
    • Completed designs and plans
    • Park design
  8. Identifying Required Staff Skills
    • Staff management, training and associated issues
    • Skill set required for workers in historic parks and gardens
    • The skills crisis
    • Training schemes
    • Volunteer labour
    • Skills audits and training plans
    • Identifying skills chortages
    • Conducting a skills audit
    • Training programs
    • Workplace health and safety
    • Identifying hazards
    • Risk control methods
    • Conducting a safety audit
    • Assessing risks
  9. Adapt Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes for Modern Use
    • Presenting historic gardens and designed landscapes
    • Visitor interpretation
    • Marketing and PR
    • Visitor facilities
    • Equal access
    • Access strategy
    • Managing wear and tear, vanalism, theft
    • Managing legislative requirements (eg. health and safety, equal access).
    • PBL project to adapt a historic garden or designed landscape for modern use.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Examine how conservation management plans for designed landscapes are formulated and how the information gathered is evaluated and verified
  • Examine and explain the role of public and interested parties, statutory and non-statutory consultees.
  • Examine the role of public funding; evaluate other sources of funding; discuss the implications of grant aid criteria
  • Explain issues and procedures associated with the renewal of plant features.
  • Develop and outline strategies for creating new features within existing landscapes.
  • Describe the processes involved in creating new gardens or landscapes.
  • Manage wear and tear on historic gardens and designed landscapes
  • Determine appropriate work programs for repair and maintenance of hard landscape features.
  • Identify and outline staffing management and training issues, determine labour skill sets requirements.


Historic parks, designed landscapes and notable gardens may have a diverse range of features and interests that need to be considered in their restoration and or conservation. Historical layers, conservation of natural areas, the business of working farms, and whether a property will be opened up for public access are all important considerations. Conservation management plans help to assemble research and clarify what is important and why. From this, plans can be confidently developed for repair, restoration and conservation programs, or as a basis to propose change.

Note: In most cases (when work is to be funded by grants), grant bodies will need to be consulted before any management or maintenance plans are devised. In the case of notable, historic and or important parks and gardens, they may require the use of expert advisors in the conception and preparation of the conservation management plans; most funding bodies will not offer grants without such a plan.

A Conservation Management Plan will usually involve three processes:

  • Investigation (research) - this step identifies the resource (garden, park etc. and documents it).
  • Assessment (to verify and evaluate the information gathered and to determine the condition of the garden and any relevant components; to assess its value to the community or sections of a community).
  • Determining management policies - (this will include consultation with various stake-holders ie. grant bodies, local authorities, general public, and in the case of private owners – the owner etc.)  to retain its cultural, historical or landscape significance; policies may include conservation through active or passive management, preventative intervention measures, or the controlled destruction of certain components. A conservation management plan may include, as a condition of a planning agreement or consent, the required maintenance of the historical and cultural value of the landscape.

Investigation: Why Research is Important
Research gives us a greater awareness of how the landscape in question was originally designed, its historical development, its special qualities, and its setting. These aspects are fundamental in avoiding inappropriate planting, the loss of vistas and other valuable features. They are also important in maintaining the integrity and purpose (where possible) of the original design.

Research is also important to record historically significant designed landscapes, parks and gardens; records increase understanding helping to protect, restore and conserve them.   It also highlights their historical importance, their value and their contribution to the wider landscape. Research increases understanding and also helps the public in general to learn about historic gardens. A range of historical research and survey information may be required before a conservation management plan can be written.

Researching and Recording

The reasons for researching and recording a particular garden, park, or designed landscape are many and varied, however a primary reason for selecting a site for placement on a local or national register or inventory is established.

Following primary reasons for researching and recording a garden (or other significant place) can be used as a guide:

  • To make local authorities and special interest groups aware of a particular designed landscape, park or garden.
  • To record its historical significance.
  • As part of a funding application.
  • To give support plans for the future conservation, restoration and management of a designed landscape.

The Researching Process

The researching and recording process aims achieve the following:

  • To locate relevant information – primary sources of information are the most relevant and reliable ie. this information is contemporary with the garden under study ie. accounts, diaries, financial records, estate plans, garden plans, plant lists, visitor descriptions, letters, maps, photographs, paintings, drawings etc. Secondary sources of information may also be useful – ie. later information: published accounts, recorded accounts, magazine articles, journals etc.
  • To analyse the sources of information – published and unpublished sources and their location.To analyse the source materials uncovered.
  • To conduct a site survey – this will help to establish the condition of the place in question and to discover what relevant historical evidence remain or are contained within it
  • To make a written and photographic historical record and to record the features still present.
  • To determine whether a garden is noteworthy enough for further in-depth research.
  • To circulate, record or publish the results.

Conducting Preliminary Research
Not all gardens under investigation are notable enough to be included in national records, designed landscape archives or garden history archives etc. In order to determine the noteworthiness of a place, a preliminary investigation should be conducted. From this it can be determined whether further, more in-depth research is warranted.

Preliminary research should aim to:

  • Collect a brief history
  • Determine the main components
  • Determine the current condition
  • Recording key sources of information collected
  • Collecting copies, both historical and current, of plans, photographs, drawings and any other information relevant to the development of the park, garden or designed landscape under investigation.

Research Issues
Sources can be inconsistent - dates can vary, spelling of names, similar or same names (but entirely different people), different names for the same person (due to name change), and place names may differ. References and sources must always be recorded. Dates for the birth of people, events or construction dates of buildings and gardens may also differ.  Primary sources of information will provide the most accurate information, i.e. church registers, company records, burial certificates, parish records etc. 

Always cross-check sources of information to ensure that the source and the place or person you are researching actually correspond. Take care using websites unless they are known; standards of research on the web varies considerably. Known sources of information such as organisations and government departments, universities and standard reference works (like those produced by the Garden History Society etc.) are the best source of information.