Garden History

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

Training Program: Understand Historic Gardens and their Evolution

  • Learn about garden styles and ideas from the past
  • Develop your ability to recreate or renovate a wide range of authentic gardens styles
  • Discover new opportunities for working in garden design, development and maintenance.

Understand how gardens have evolved over the centuries, and broaden your perspective on what is possible and appropriate in garden design today. Garden history will enlighten you, and vastly expand the scope of possibilities you have before you as a modern garden designer. Lessons cover garden designers, great gardens and gardeners of the world, private and public gardens, globilisation of gardens, scope and nature of modern garden conservation, the roles of organisations in garden conservation and much more.

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 Worlds First Plant Collectors
    • Reasons for Studying Garden History
    • Scope of Garden Conservation
  2. Development of Private Gardens
    • Early Private Gardens
    • Persian Gardens
    • Sino Japanese GTardens
    • 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 ofSpecial Historic Interest in England
    • The Impact of Registering Sites
    • CABE Space
    • National Trust
    • Royal Horticultural Society
    • Garden History Society
    • AGHS

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.


  • 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, RHS, Council for Conservation of Plants, and private owners of gardens

Why Study Garden History?

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. You may know how being in a particular garden makes you feel in terms of being relaxed, stimulated, and so forth, but without understanding what it is about the components and layout of the garden that triggers those feelings, you are likely to lack some insight. Through knowledge of how garden trends have developed over time it is possible to gain a more informed understanding and appreciation of gardens. As with anything in life, the past informs the present.

The history of the garden is also an important adjunct to the history of civilisations around the world. For instance, the ancient Egyptian gardens provide insight into the values, ideals, and beliefs of that society. The first gardens were an extension of religion and were often annexed to temples. They represented man’s perception of an earthly paradise. Water, a scarce resource, was highly valued and was incorporated into these gardens to symbolise the ‘river of life‘. These gardens were owned by the wealthy and water was brought to them by slaves. Gardens at this time were also useful as well as idealistic. They were designed to incorporate a ready supply of fruit and vegetables for their owners. Gardens were typically walled to protect them from marauders and the harshness of the desert to provide sanctuary and shade. 

Throughout the course of history gardens have adapted to changes in the social environment, politics, and ideals. In the UK, for example, gardens have been influenced over the centuries by invasions of different races. Gardens from the Roman era introduced vines, chestnuts and topiary. During the Dark Ages, walled monastery gardens provided refuge for monks. These gardens were self-sufficient and supplied food through vegetables, herbs, fruits, and fishponds as well as an area for contemplation and meditation. Saxon gardens are widely regarded as the origin of the cottage garden. The emphasis was on security and it was not until the Tudor period that this emphasis was relaxed and the garden became an extension of the house. The inclusion and exclusion of nature in the garden has vacillated over time. By studying these different fashions and needs, the garden historian is able to understand the significance of gardens and the importance of their design.

In today’s world, as with years gone by, gardens represent man’s attempt to come to terms with his surroundings. These gardens also correspond to ideals and desires and are indicative of the values of our societies today. For city dwellers they are perhaps the only means by which many people can interact with nature and express their creativity. Gardens provide a refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, technology, and industry, and afford their owners the opportunity to find equilibrium in their lives. In order for gardens, whether communal or private, to provide satisfaction in the way that gardens from the past did for their owners, it is important to know why certain garden elements were utilised and to either remove them or adapt them to their surroundings to represent the thoughts and ideals of today’s world.



  • Garden Designers
  • Landscapers
  • Grounds staff
  • Home garden owner with a significant garden





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