Garden History

Study the history of landscaping by distance education. Garden history informs us not only about different garden styles and how to design a garden, but also the connection between culture, society and the evolution of civilisations.

Course CodeBHT329
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Immerse Yourself in the History of Gardens

This course will help you to gain an understanding of how gardens have evolved from Roman times to the present day. Learn the value of conserving heritage parks and gardens. Discover 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.

Reasons to study the evolution 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.

  • Some study history because it is interesting.
  • Others study history because it gives insights into how to do things today.
  • Landscapers who don't know garden history are lacking a complete understanding of the art they are practicing; and are probably not seeing possibilities in their work which history can inspire.

    ACS Student Comment:  The course has been fabulous because it really made me think beyond my own planting ideas. I have particularly enjoyed the research into noted garden writers and considering the legal aspects of conservation for the future.  Melanie Veasey, UK - Garden History Course.
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
  2. Development of Private Gardens
  3. Development of Public and Commercial Landscapes
  4. Great Gardens & Gardeners of the World
  5. People who Influenced Gardens
  6. Globalisation of Gardens
  7. Scope and Nature of Modern Garden Conservation
  8. The Role of Organisations in Garden Conservation

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


Gardening is as old as civilisation.

There are records of gardening to be found everywhere from neolithic settlements to Egyptian, Chinese and Roman civilisations.
The way we have gardened has changed from place to place and time to time.
Gardens have come in all shapes and forms; and with varying purposes. A times they have  been primarily places to grow things to use (food, medicine, craft materials). At other times they have been a place to relax in, or to simply look at and admire in the same way one might admire any other work of art.

To understand the evolution of gardens, in different parts of the world, is to discover a wealth of outstanding achievements by remarkable people over milennia; and in doing so, explore a wider variety of things that may be applied to garden development today.

Plant Collectors

Plant collectors emerged in the eighteenth century and their desire to broaden their collections introduced new plants which would influence gardening. The eighth Lord Petre (1713-1742) was an amateur plant collector who traded with Collinson and Bartram who were also collectors. Lord Petre is believed to have established a collection of some 200,000 plants, including many exotic species, at his home in Old Thorndon Hall, Essex by the time he died. In Europe, J. C. Volkamer amassed a huge collection of fruit trees. These were displayed in his book ‘Nürnbergische Hesperides’ (1708) which also included descriptions of German gardens.

As the century progressed botanic gardens in different cities across Europe extended their plant collections and botanists worked together to classify plants. The Chelsea Physic Garden became influential under the stewardship of Philip Miller (1691-1771) and his publication of the ‘Gardener’s Dictionary’ 1724 became a work of botanical and, to a lesser extent, gardening significance. The 1768 version of his dictionary was the first to include the Linnaeus system of classification. Carl von Linne (Linnaeus: 1707-1778), who was regarded as the greatest botanist of his age, corresponded with Miller from Sweden. He also corresponded with the likes of Collinson and Bartram and other botanists whilst his colleagues set about finding more plant specimens from overseas. These would be brought back and added to the expanding ‘Catalogus Plantarum’......


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
Garden renovation & restoration
Working for councils or heritage trusts
Grounds staff at parks & gardens

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Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
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