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 Code: BHT329
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement 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, globalisation of gardens, scope and nature of modern garden conservation, the roles of organisations in garden conservation and much more.

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of garden history
    • Reasons for studying garden history
    • Scope and nature of garden conservation today
    • Development of Private Gardens
    • The historical development of parks and gardens to the present day
    • Key factors such as wealth, status, war, travel and function
    • Influence they have had on styles of gardens and designed landscapes
  2. Development of Public and Commercial Landscapes
    • Parks, Streetscapes, Commercial landscapes
    • The historical development of parks & gardens to the present day
    • Identifying key factors such as wealth, status, war, travel and function
    • The influence they have had on styles of gardens and designed landscapes.
  3. Great Gardens and Gardeners of the World
    • Key individuals such as designers, horticulturists, plant hunters and writers who have influenced horticulture
    • Study of range of gardens and designed landscapes such as landscape parks, botanic gardens, public parks, private gardens etc,
    • Study examples of gardens and designed landscapes associated with individuals and illustrate the association both from historic and contemporary perspectives
  4. People who Influenced Gardens other than Designers
    • Gardeners, Plant Collectors and Writers
    • Key individuals such as designers, horticulturists, plant hunters and writers who have influenced horticulture.
    • Gardens and designed landscapes including landscape parks, botanic gardens, public parks, private gardens etc.
    • Examples of gardens and designed landscapes associated with individuals and illustrate the association both from historic and contemporary perspectives)
  5. Globalisation of Gardens
    • Different garden histories and cultures being adapted and applied in modern gardens
    • Range of gardens and designed landscapes such as landscape parks, botanic gardens, public parks, private gardens etc.
    • Examples of gardens and designed landscapes associated with individuals and illustrate the association both from historic and contemporary perspectives)
  6. Scope and Nature of Modern Garden Conservation
    • The value of gardens and designed landscapes in terms such as education, heritage, leisure, tourism, plant conservation, economy and conservation of skills.
    • Threats to these landscapes
    • Available mitigation measures including legal safeguards
    • Planning policy, planning law and planning bodies.
  7. Role of Organisations in Garden Conservation
    • The role of English Heritage and it’s equivalents in promoting and protecting significant landscapes
    • Register of Parks & Gardens of Special Historic Interest
    • 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.

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
  • 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


 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 millennia; 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
  • Landscaping
  • Garden renovation & restoration
  • Urban planning and construction industries
  • Conservation
  • History
  • Working for councils or heritage trusts
  • Grounds staff at parks & gardens
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
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You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
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You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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 (Horticulturist)

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.

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.

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