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Conservation of Historic GardensTaught by Dr Audrey Gerber

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  • Understanding concepts of restoration, re-creation, and replicas

  • How to research a garden’s history

  • Conservation management and planning

  • Managing environmental change


Dr Audrey Gerber is a researcher who specialises in garden conservation, and has international experience in ornamental horticulture. Through this course, Audrey shares with you her knowledge and enthusiasm for conserving our historic gardens. By the end of the course you will have an understanding of the many layers of significance of historic gardens around the world, and the value that conserving these has to us, and future generations.

Garden style is defined by a dynamic relationship between fashion and function over time. Influenced by politics, art and socio-economic trends, historic gardens provide us with opportunities for simple recreation or complex education from which we can learn about past cultures, horticultural techniques and patterns of life. Historic gardens are not living museums; they are enriched and challenged by change. Understanding the origin and influence of these changes, and recognising our capacity and responsibility to sensitively manage change, is the essence of conservation.

In this course Audrey will explain why conservation is relevant to you, locally and globally. You will learn how to research a site, using many formal and informal sources. This will enable you to write a detailed statement of significance, which is essential to articulating why a site deserves to be conserved. You will learn about elements of change, how these influence or threaten gardens, and how we can proactively respond. Audrey will guide you through the legislation that governs protection of heritage assets, and introduce you to ways in which you, as a professional or an enthusiastic amateur, can become more actively involved in conservation.

This course delivers both a broad outline and a deeper philosophical and practical approach to conservation of historic gardens.

You’ll be suited to this course if you are a student of garden history, a professional whose talents shape our heritage landscapes, someone involved in the practical aspects of managing historic gardens, and anyone who responds, formally or informally, to policy relating to our heritage environment. It is designed for those with an intellectual curiosity in conservation of heritage assets. As a self-employed professional the cost of this course can be off-set against tax as "Continuing Professional Development".

The Curriculum

  • 1. The Ethos of Conservation

    In the first lesson you will learn about conservation philosophy, exploring the concepts of restoration, re-creation, and replicas. In this first week, Audrey walks you through examples to illustrate what historic gardens can teach us about society and culture, horticultural techniques, and design trends. You will learn about the events that have influenced and shaped the development of garden conservation in different countries. To highlight the global enthusiasm and commitment to conservation, Audrey introduces you to individuals, groups and organisations that advocate and champion the cause of conservation of historic gardens.

  • 2. Researching a Heritage Site

    The second lesson teaches you how to research an historic garden. You will learn where to look for snippets of information, and how to piece the story together. Studying old maps and adapting modern techniques, Audrey describes curious findings and happenstances that have enabled lost gardens to come back to life. You will be shown examples to illustrate useful resources, methods and strategies, and hear about how this research has shaped conservation activities.

  • 3. Writing a Statement of Significance

    In the third lesson you will hear about the reasons why a site may have conservation merit. Audrey will describe how different countries define heritage values, outlining similarities and varying cultural interpretations. You will learn how to prepare a Statement of Significance which articulates why a heritage site is worthy of conservation, and underpins how it should be managed, will be introduced to global, national and local legislation that guides conservation imperatives, and learn about the value of a Statement of Significance in responding to regulatory issues. Audrey will briefly present examples of more detailed heritage statements, such as Conservation Management Plans, Heritage Landscape Surveys, and Historic Landscape Analyses, and explain how they all rely on a clear understanding of why the site has heritage significance.

  • 4. Managing Change

    In the final lesson, Audrey will describe the forms of change that threaten historic gardens. You will learn how climate change is likely to affect planted and structural elements of a garden. Audrey will lead you through examples of the threat of development to heritage sites, and show how compromise may be reached. You will learn strategies to adapt to natural senescence, replacing plants while maintaining the heritage significance. And all gardens need to adapt to changing techniques and improvements. Audrey will show how this can be sensitively achieved. And finally, you will learn how to become more actively involved in conservation advocacy and practice, and find out what formal and informal support and funding are available to you.

Meet your expert tutor

Dr Audrey Gerber is a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. Audrey is specialised in the flowering and growth physiology of ornamental woody perennials, and her work at the University of...read more

Why you'll love learning here

  • Exclusive: Be coached directly by Dr Audrey Gerber

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  • Fun: Get a new perspective with classmates from around the world

  • Inspiring: Real experts sharing their secrets

  • Convenient: Fits with real life. Study whenever and wherever you like

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