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Space to Grow why people need gardens

2 N AT I O N A L T R u S T

The role of the National Trust
The National Trust has been caring for special gardens for over 110 years. Our professional interest in gardens took off in the late 1940s, when we established a Gardens Committee to advise us on our work. We now look after over 200 gardens and parks and and 32 Plant Heritage National Plant Collections and over 70,000 plant species. We employ 450 professional gardeners, who are assisted by 1,500 volunteer gardeners. Another 2,400 volunteers help with activities such as plant selling and guided talks. Octavia Hill, one of our founders, was passionate about the idea that gardens could serve as ‘open air sitting rooms’. Indeed, the National Trust was very nearly called the ‘Commons and Gardens Trust’. Around 87 per cent of the population of England, Wales and Northern Ireland now live within 15 miles of a National Trust garden. Our gardens often function as vital local community spaces, for example at Osterley Park in London or East Riddlesden Hall in West Yorkshire. Many of the gardens in our care have special historical significance. Almost all of the great garden designers of the past worked on gardens that are now looked after by the Trust, among them Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Humphry Repton, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.


Space to Grow
why people need gardens Gardens and gardening have a special place in our national culture. Most weekends, millions of us will be planting, digging and weeding our own plots, or appreciating other people’s efforts as visitors to gardens. There are few who do not value the simple pleasures that gardens and gardening can offer: beauty, fresh air, connection with nature and plants, and the satisfaction of growing our own food. Spending time in a garden is time well spent. That’s why I believe that gardens are more important than ever before. Significantly, seven out of ten of us believe that spending time in gardens is critical to our quality of life, with many agreeing that it is a more enjoyable pastime than shopping or watching TV. I am passionate about the idea that, in today’s fast-paced society, everyone should have access to a garden or green space that they feel entitled to enjoy and use. After all, this was the inspirational vision of the founders of the National Trust. Gardens, great and small, face many challenges. The examples in this report set out how the National Trust is responding to these, and the measures we are taking to ensure that gardens can be appreciated by everyone for generations to come.

Fiona Reynolds Director-General

Left: Fiona Reynolds clearing daffodils with the gardeners at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire

Gardening is one of Britain’s most popular pastimes. Most weekends 11 million of us will be tending our gardens, and more than twice that number say they enjoy visiting gardens each year. Put simply, gardens are a constant source of joy and pleasure. Gardens are places where people can play and relax. When people were asked why spending time in gardens was important to them, ‘unwinding’ was the most frequently mentioned response (68 per cent). One in three members of the public consider gardens to be romantic places that can give your love life a boost. Walking in the scent from the 300 varieties of old-fashioned roses growing in the gardens at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire on a summer’s evening helps to demonstrate why! Nine out of ten of the Trust’s most visited properties are gardens. Even in the depths of winter thousands of visitors come to enjoy the delicate beauty of snowdrops at properties such as Colby Woodland Garden in Pembrokeshire and Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. This popularity means that gardens open to the public are a major draw for tourism in Britain. Gardens are important to sustaining local economies. Visits to gardens generate an estimated £300 million in direct spending and even more than this in associated spending on local businesses. Gardens bring people together. They provide a safe and comforting environment in which to pursue a variety of activities: exercise, socialising with friends, appreciating nature and the seasons, or quiet contemplation. As such, gardens are great social levellers, helping to unite communities in ways that other public spaces often do not.


The Gateway Gardens Trust and Moseley Old Hall
Staffordshire The 17th-century style garden at Moseley Old Hall is one of many in the National Trust to work in partnership with The Gateway Gardens Trust, which helps disadvantaged groups of all kinds to become involved with and experience gardens. Chairman of The Gateway Gardens Trust, Bettina Harden, describes a typical project with local schoolchildren in the garden at Moseley Old Hall in Staffordshire: ‘The children came from a hugely deprived urban area. They planted seeds in their own plot, and came back week after week to weed and water them, and then harvest the produce. They wrote amazing poems and drew pictures about their experiences. It was a spectacular success.’ Bettina sees access to green spaces as a human right. ‘Gardens offer infinite resources to feed our needs as people. One refugee child, amazed to discover the beauty of the walled gardens at Dinefwr, asked us whether he was in paradise.’ The Gateway Gardens Trust is running a series of seminars about increasing access to gardens and historic parks for National Trust staff in order to develop skills and share good practice in outreach work.

More than 12 million people visit National Trust gardens each year Seven out of ten of us believe it is critical to our quality of life to spend time in gardens

‘The best thing about Knightshayes Court garden (above) is that it feels warm and neighbourly. Despite its scale and splendour I always feel I’ve just popped in to see an old friend’ National Trust visitor, Devon

Research has shown that physical activity in green spaces is effective in the treatment of clinical depression and can be as successful as psychotherapy or medication, particularly in the longer term. The mental health charity Thrive has found that nearly one in three disabled people believe that gardening has ongoing health benefits, and one in five report that it has helped them through a period of mental or physical ill health. At Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, the National Trust is working with the charity Rethink and the Adult Social Care and Health department of Nottinghamshire County Council to help people who have suffered from severe mental illness by providing space in the Walled Kitchen Garden to propagate and grow vegetables and flowers. Gardening is an excellent form of exercise. Just 30 minutes of gardening can burn as many calories as aerobic exercise, greatly reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It can have broader health benefits too, for example helping older people maintain stronger and more nimble hands. Doctors are beginning to see ‘green exercise’ and ‘horticultural therapy’ as effective treatments for many mental and physical conditions. At Stourhead, Wiltshire, a ‘Heritage to Health’ project has been established to help train and develop health and social care professionals to use horticultural therapy. Healthy gardening initiatives such as at Greys Court in Oxfordshire offer communities the chance to enjoy these benefits at their local Trust properties. Our many garden and parkland walking trails provide visitors with gentle exercise for their bodies as well as spiritual refreshment.


Anglesey Abbey
Cambridgeshire The gardens at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge are the site of a pioneering project to improve the health and well-being of local people – and particularly of disadvantaged or socially excluded groups. The garden has a varied network of long-term partnerships – with charities like Mencap, health trusts, local schools and organisations working with at risk or socially excluded groups. Head Gardener Richard Todd has seen lives change through the experience of working in the gardens: ‘It’s partly just the magic of being in a lovely place, and doing something worthwhile and physical with other people. Many, for instance people recovering from mental illness, have lost all confidence in themselves. At first there’s no eye contact; they struggle to have a conversation. But then they start gardening, see a result, and begin to feel worthwhile. They come out of their shell and can begin to deal with the hubbub of life. Many have gone on to full-time jobs.’ The mental health charity Red2Green has also taken over part of the kitchen garden, while other groups, including children with special educational needs, now grow vegetables which they sell on to the National Trust restaurant at the property.

Across the UK 21,000 people a week are using garden projects to improve their well-being

Weeding for 30 minutes can burn the same amount of calories as a half-hour walk

‘My garden is such a wonderful place when life gets too much. Listening to the birds and pottering amongst the flowers relaxes me more than anything else in the world whenever I start to get all frazzled!’ National Trust visitor, Kent

Gardens are a great source of food, and help inspire people to appreciate more about where their food comes from. The Trust now cares for 26 working kitchen gardens, from Trengwainton, Cornwall, to Wallington, Northumberland. They are increasingly popular visitor attractions at properties, providing opportunities for community involvement, school plots and growing areas for disadvantaged groups as well as fresh produce for the property restaurants and tea-rooms. In the walled garden at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, three gardeners and 40 volunteers grow hundreds of traditional varieties of fruit and vegetables, including 60 kinds of tomato. The gardeners work closely with Wimpole’s chef, Keith Goodwin, who explains: ‘Everything here is cooked fresh. It’s all food in season, grown locally. We don’t talk about “food miles” here; we talk about “food feet and inches”.’ Through our gardens, we can connect with local communities. At the magnificent 2.5 acre kitchen garden at Knightshayes Court in Devon we work with local schools who now come on a regular basis to tend their plots and learn about growing food. At Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire there’s a lively community-based programme of planting and gardening sessions involving families from diverse backgrounds in High Wycombe. Through the Landshare initiative we are committed to offering a thousand new growing spaces by 2012, some of which will be in redundant National Trust kitchen gardens. We’re also encouraging volunteers and allotment holders to cultivate traditional varieties of fruit and vegetables where possible, and passing on the skills and know-how to help them to do so. At Cotehele in Cornwall our cultivation of traditional fruit varieties in the Mother Orchard helps to maintain a unique gene bank suited to conditions in the Tamar Valley.


near Gateshead ‘I love working with the children, sharing my love of growing things with them and teaching them basic gardening skills which hopefully they will take into adulthood. One of the children told me last week that she enjoyed gardening because she would just be bored if she stayed at home!’ says Sue Adamson, Gardener at Gibside. Just five miles from Gateshead, Gibside was once a grand estate built on the profits of coal mining. Now the estate is building a different name for itself, as the centre of a thriving community allotment scheme and a successful farmers’ market. Property Manager Mick Wilkes explains, ‘The historic four-acre walled garden, long ago turfed over and turned into a car park, is now gradually being restored, with fruit trees planted along its walls and the space inside divided into allotment plots.’ So far 30 plots have been created and all are being used by local people and community groups including mental health charities, four schools, a rehabilitation service and a homeless shelter. The only rule is that plots must be kept in a reasonable condition and gardened along organic principles. Most crops are grown from heritage seed varieties, although modern varieties are used too and the differences discussed.

21 per cent of people have taken up gardening to grow their own fruit and vegetables

The National Trust already has community growing spaces – from allotments to kitchen gardens – at over 50 locations around the country ‘Kitchen gardens like ours are fantastic places to inspire people to value food and start growing it themselves’ Christine Brain, Head Gardener, Barrington Court, Somerset

The Trust employs and trains volunteers as gardeners, garden guides and stewards, and in other garden-related roles. Similarly, our working holidays allow people to get involved and work in our gardens. From revamping gardens at Cwmdu in Carmarthenshire to creating a Caribbean Herb Garden at Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton, volunteering provides a chance to work with garden staff and experience at first hand how to maintain and manage historic gardens. Many volunteers have gone on to develop successful careers as professional gardeners with the Trust and they in turn have a crucial role to play in helping others learn gardening skills. The Trust’s own gardeners’ training scheme, Careership, is the uK’s largest new entrant programme for heritage gardeners. Since its inception in 1997, over 200 students have been trained and many are now employed by the Trust or are working within the botanical and heritage garden sector in the uK and beyond.

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The National Gardens Scheme
Enabling the spread of garden expertise throughout the gardens sector is a key objective of the partnership between the National Trust and the National Gardens Scheme (NGS). The Careership scheme is designed to ensure a continuous supply of suitably qualified graduate gardeners, competent to work in historic gardens. At present 13 students each year are supported directly by the NGS. The success of the scheme can be measured by the number of post-Careership gardeners now employed by the National Trust and private gardens. Leslie Hurst, who now works as an Interactive Gardener at Biddulph Grange Garden, says: ‘The Careership scheme is a perfect balance of theoretical study and workplace experience. All aspects of working in a historic garden are covered, from tools/machines through to garden history (and everything in between!).’ Another former Careership student, John Hawley, is now the Head Gardener at Sizergh Castle and explains the appeal of the opportunity to work for the National Trust: ‘After working in a garden for a number of years, helping to shape and evolve things, you feel a part of the place, it’s in your heart and soul.’ As Julia Grant, NGS Chief Executive, explains: ‘The Careership scheme allows the NGS to play a part in preserving our garden heritage. Gardens and garden visiting are an integral part of this country’s culture and keeping a pool of horticultural experts couldn’t be more important in maintaining and developing this wonderful tradition.’ In addition, many National Trust gardens open their gates each year for the NGS and help raise funds for the NGS’s beneficiary charities which include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and Crossroads. Over the last decade, the NGS has raised £25 million this way.

‘Volunteering at Colby (above) gives me something worthwhile to do with my spare time, working in a lovely place – I don’t have a garden at home so it’s the only chance I get to garden!’ Volunteer Gardener, Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire We have 3,900 gardenbased volunteers across the Trust who give us nearly 40,000 hours of their time a year – equivalent to 366 additional posts Public gardens, domestic gardens, botanic gardens and parks, nursery trades, market gardens and historic properties employ over 200,000 people in horticulture

Our gardens are safe, secure places where people can develop their self-esteem and confidence. We work with the charity Thrive in the gardens at The Vyne in Hampshire, giving disabled adults greater confidence and social skills, a stepping stone to employment and a sense of purpose in the community. We provide placements under a number of different government schemes such as the Intermediate Labour Market and New Deal for the long-term unemployed. Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire provides work placements and training for training provider Total People Stoke-on-Trent. At Sheringham Park and Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, the Trust is working with The Prince’s Trust on re-socialisation programmes for troubled teenagers, in some cases leading to full-time employment. Our ‘Getting into the past’ programme with The Prince’s Trust aims to offer an opportunity to get a foot on the ladder in the horticulture field, for example for 12 young people not currently in education or training at Kingston Lacy. Our gardeners also collaborate with probation and prison staff to provide horticultural and social skills training. Examples include the partnership between a secure unit in Newmarket and the gardens at Ickworth in Suffolk, and Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, where prisoners from Styal are helping to restore its newly acquired garden.


The Walled Garden at Stackpole
Pembrokeshire The six acres of walled gardens on the Stackpole Estate are leased and managed by Pembrokeshire Mencap Ltd on a 40-year lease. The focus is on providing opportunities for people with learning difficulties to gain horticultural skills and work experience. Mike Evans, Trustee and Treasurer, explains: ‘We bus 45 students to the garden from their home or a care unit during the week and they take part in pre-NVQ courses in Horticulture and Life Skills for which we are funded by the Welsh Assembly. Funding is also received from Pembrokeshire Social Services.’ ‘The ladies from Styal women’s prison had the chance to experience a variety of skills they probably would never have even considered. The scheme so far has had great success with two of them on release finding employment in a very short time and getting their lives back on track. They still keep me updated with their news’ Students, staff, volunteers and visitors value the gardens for the experience it offers them. under expert guidance, the students take responsibility for their own growing spaces and crops. Friendly and welcoming staff and volunteers are committed to providing students with the very best interaction the garden presents. Visitors are also encouraged to enjoy the space and to take advantage of the availability of delicious, fresh, local produce through the shop. Schoolchildren also visit to see how vegetables are grown and what they taste like freshly picked. Mike sees the garden as a place which coaxes people who might not otherwise develop their own skills. ‘The Mencap Walled Gardens at Stackpole are a peaceful oasis. This environment encourages our students to feel comfortable and be themselves.’ More than 30 National Trust gardens already have partnerships with training bodies, social services, prisons and organisations for people with learning disabilities

Alan Knapper, Head Gardener, Quarry Bank Mill (above), Cheshire

The Trust’s 200 gardens are sensitive barometers registering the pressure of environmental change on our lives, and on the natural world around us. Spring flowers now bloom and trees come into leaf on average two or three weeks earlier than 30 years ago. Summer rainfall in central England has fallen by 20 per cent since the 19th century, and the growing season has lengthened by a month. Frosts are now uncommon in the West Country, and frozen lakes and rivers have become a rarity, even in northern England. The Trust is keen to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of gardening. New methods, such as the solar-recharged lawn mowers piloted at Nymans in Sussex, are being tested alongside tried and trusted techniques, such as the restored Victorian ram pumps used to distribute water at The Vyne in Hampshire and Emmetts in Kent without the need for electricity. We’re working in partnership with Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks to find new ways to reduce our environmental footprint. Green gardening methods, such as composting and water havesting, are good for the environment and save money as well as resources. These techniques also show how we can care for our historic gardens without harmful chemicals. At Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire, the garden is run on organic principles. No chemicals are used: garden staff rely on natural methods to maintain a balance. Gardening without peat helps to conserve the carbon dioxide locked up in peat bogs and protects endangered wildlife. Amateur gardeners are currently responsible for two thirds of all peat use in the uK, the CO2 equivalent of 277,000 return flights to Sydney. All National Trust gardens have been peat-free since 1999, as are all the plants sold at our properties.


Nymans Garden
Sussex Nymans is admired as one of the 20th century’s outstanding British gardens but it also leads the field in demonstrating best sustainable gardening practice. Ed Ikin, Head Gardener, is clear about his priorities: ‘We never compromise on the appearance of the garden – the amazing colour and display that makes it famous – but wherever possible we use alternative organic methods and conventional herbicides or fungicides are a last resort. There are so many alternatives if you look for them. In the rose garden for instance we adopted a system from Australia of spraying regularly with milk – a potent fungicide.’ Water consumption is a fraction of what it would be in a conventional garden. ‘Even in the 2006 drought we watered the borders only four times. Get the plants used to it right from the start and they’ll adapt and their roots go deeper.’ The garden’s carbon footprint is very low. ‘Solar panels recharge all our portable electrical equipment, including lawnmowers. We run our vehicles on recycled vegetable oil and we recycle almost all our waste through composting – including from the house and restaurant.’ Members of the team pass on their experience by talking to visitors, and by offering green garden trails, through interpretation panels, activity weekends and a hugely popular Green Living Fair. ‘People trust what they hear from our staff and garden volunteers, because they can see that it works by looking around the garden.’

‘Our aim remains the same as when the garden was created within the Arts and Crafts philosophy: to restore the ideal of man in harmony with nature’ Linda Roberts, Gardener in Charge, Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire

Seven out of ten gardeners now put concerns about the environment into action in their own gardens

A garden sprinkler can use 300–650 litres in an hour – as much as a family of four uses in a day. We are resurrecting old wells and harvesting rain water and installing more efficient irrigation

Our own back gardens are the most common way for people to experience nature close at hand. Private gardens in the UK cover a million acres, an area almost as large as all of the UK’s National Parks. This represents a hugely important resource for wildlife. Birds, bats, amphibians, fungi and a wealth of invertebrates thrive in domestic gardens. In the typical suburban back garden of Mendips, John Lennon’s childhood home, a survey found beetles in the undergrowth, birds in the hedges and a woodmouse munching on geranium seeds. National Trust gardens are important refuges for declining species of native flora and fauna, such as the Four-spotted Flower Bee. Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle are two of the best sites for dragonflies in Kent, while the old lawns at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire boast rarities such as Adder’s Tongue Fern and Bee Orchid. The Mistletoe Beetle was recently found in old orchards on the Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire, while Celypha woodiana, a rare species of moth protected under the Biodiversity Action Plan, was discovered at Barrington Court, Somerset. Wildlife-friendly gardening practices help to promote biodiversity. Older cultivars of garden plants, especially bedding plants and perennials, tend to have much more nectar than their modern equivalents. This helps support pollinating insects such as bees. Gardens have a vital role in maintaining the link between people and the natural world. Gardening is also the easiest way we can encourage wildlife – by providing old wood stacks and ponds, reducing chemicals or growing a greater diversity of plants. Gardens are likely to become increasingly important as refuges in future decades as the countryside comes under pressure from development and climate change.

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The Weir
Herefordshire For 20 years, this informal 10-acre garden, set dramatically on the banks of the River Wye, has been managed for the benefit of wildlife. The result, according to Ned Price, Head Gardener, is a rich sequence of sights and sounds for visitors to enjoy from January through to late autumn. The sheltered riverside location and abundant plant life encourages all kinds of insects, birds and animals. ‘Rooks and ravens, birds of prey, a great range of warblers and tits… it’s a haven for badgers, otters, stoats, weasels, yellow-necked mice, voles, bats, toads and frogs. There’s always so much happening here.’ Ned’s team take positive steps to encourage wildlife: ‘We don’t cut the grass as soon as the bulbs are finished, so meadow flowers thrive and encourage a huge variety of insects. That brings the birds, bats and amphibians. When we do mow, twice a year, we do it in a patchwork, keeping wild corridors across the garden.’ As agriculture has intensified and towns expanded, Ned sees gardens as being more and more crucial as wildlife refuges. ‘It’s not a grand garden here, but the peace, the simplicity, the birdsong, the grasshoppers, the butterflies, the damselflies – the whole atmosphere – that’s what people relate to.’

90 per cent of adults believe that domestic gardens have a key role in improving the natural environment

‘Formal gardens and wildlife don’t need to be mutually exclusive. The two can go hand in hand and they uniquely combine two quintessentially British passions’ Matthew Oates, Butterfly Expert at the National Trust

Paving over of front gardens is one of the main reasons why London’s house sparrow population has declined by 70 percent in 10 years

Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren benefit each year from the experience of visiting Trust gardens. Our pioneering Schools Guardianship Scheme forges close links with over 40 local schools as gardens have become an unexpected and powerful way of bringing history, science and geography alive. They also provide the chance for children to learn practical growing skills. Nothing can inspire the imagination more than a living link to centuries past. The Ankerwycke Yew still grows in the grounds of the ruined Priory it takes its name from in Runnymede, and marks the very spot where the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. A descendant of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree bears fruit in his garden at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire and inspires local schoolchildren as well as generations of students at universities who have received cuttings from the parent plant over the years. The Trust is now working in partnership with local education providers on initiatives such as Forest Schools. These give children the chance to enjoy the natural world and promote problem-solving activities. Teachers in Sheringham’s Forest School in Norfolk have found that under-performing pupils excelled for the first time and visibly grew in self-esteem following a visit to nearby Sheringham Park. Students also come on placements or day-release schemes from local colleges, such as those who helped to restore the walled garden at Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire. A wide range of young adults, some with mental health problems, addictions or backgrounds as former offenders, have helped to bring Tyntesfield’s magnificent estate in north Somerset back to life.


Cornwall For five years Trerice’s gardens have been the setting for an award-winning history project enabling local schoolchildren to ‘taste the Tudors’. They discover at first hand what it was like to work in an Elizabethan garden: growing authentic plants, cooking and tasting the produce, even enjoying Tudor pastimes. James Breslin, Assistant Property Manager, says the key is the practical quality of learning. ‘If the true history of Trerice is to come alive, children have to get their hands dirty. You know the old saying, ‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember, but I do and I understand’. The garden the children have developed over the years is based on historical sources, including the first gardening book in English, by Thomas Hill. ‘There’s practical advice we can use, but also lots of superstition, and quite barbaric methods of pest control that the children call “grisly gardening” – they love it!’ The children have recreated Hill’s ‘Great Squirt’, a massive garden watering device. ‘The children worked with 2-inch wide steel augurs, turned wooden pegs on lathes and made the pistons for the device. Give children responsibility and they’ll act responsibly.’ Gardens, James believes, are just as important as great buildings for bringing history to life, and inspiring curiosity. One child summed up what he’d learned over a hectic year of planting and weeding, hoeing and watering: ‘Now I know that gardening can be tasty.’

The majority of the public (80 per cent) think that all children should learn about gardening, including growing food, at school. Studies have shown that pupils from years six to eight developed better interpersonal relationship skills after participating in a garden programme ‘I know more about gardening now, and help my gran in her garden. We’re going to share our vegetables with her friends too. My mum didn’t know how potatoes grow, but now I do!’ Liam, school visitor, aged 8

The recreated ‘Great Squirt’ at Trerice

A hugely significant and growing area of the Trust’s work is in the conservation of the internationally important collections of plants that contribute directly to the character and significance of our gardens. Many are of great cultural, botanical and ecological value. In fact, no other organisation in Europe has such a large and diverse collection. We manage 32 National Plant Collections on behalf of the cultivated plant conservation charity Plant Heritage. These are heritage plant collections that represent particular styles or periods of gardening and are integral to ensuring our gardens are authentic in design and content. Some of our plant collections have special local significance, such as the historic Hereford and Marches apples at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire or the Tamar daffodils that were bred for the Cornish cut flower industry and are conserved at Cotehele. The names of many favourite garden plants across the uK also have their origin in Trust gardens, such as ‘Hidcote’ lavender and Hypericum ‘Rowallane’. Without the skills and knowledge to propagate and grow plants, the diversity and cultural significance of our collections could not be sustained. Based at Knightshayes Court in Devon, the Trust’s specialist propagation facility, the Plant Conservation Programme, ensures the survival of many of its important specimens. In light of the recent spread of the fungal diseases Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae we are working with the specialist micropropagation unit at Duchy College in Cornwall to ensure the survival of plants threatened by the disease. Building national and international partnerships is crucial to conserving these plants. The Trust is a signatory to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, which seeks to halt the alarming rate of plant extinction worldwide.


A nationwide plant hunt
The National Trust is undertaking the uK’s biggest ever cultivated plant survey. Currently only 10 per cent of the many thousands of plants in National Trust gardens are recorded. Now, thanks to sponsorship from Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank and the dedication of hundreds of staff and volunteers, details of at least 75 per cent of the plants in our collections will be recorded by 2011. The database will enable the Trust to identify which plants are most seriously threatened, and help safeguard the future of thousands of plants that are significant to the character of our gardens. A rare large-leaved rhododendron, Rhododendron magnificum (KW213), in full flower So far over 40,000 plant details have been recorded and we expect this figure to move towards a million by 2011. Volunteers are helping us survey our collections. using GPS technology, each plant is identified, photographed and its details entered onto the database. This in turn is now linked to ‘PlantCollections’, an ambitious international data sharing project led by Chicago Botanic Gardens, of which we are the European lead partner. The project aims to link the databases of major plant collection holders, arboreta and botanic gardens around the world, to help prioritise conservation efforts at each location as a response strategy to climate change. The database will enable us to confirm which plants are most seriously threatened. The plant surveys should help safeguard the future of thousands of rare plants and varieties of fruit and vegetables that are simply part of the character of our gardens. Mike Buffin, our Gardens and Parks Advisor, explains, ‘We can’t promise that nothing will be lost. But those plants we believe are most significant to our gardens won’t be lost – that’s our aim.’

The Trust works with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, to help conserve wild source material from the conifers Fitzroya cupressoides, threatened by illegal logging in Chile, and Torreya taxifolia (above), a conifer native to Florida and Georgia of which only 27 are left in the wild

Over 300,000 species of cultivated plants are grown in UK gardens, compared to only around 1,500 native species

Gardens are among this country’s greatest cultural achievements. The 18th-century landscape gardening tradition is associated throughout the world with places such as Stowe in Buckinghamshire or Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal in Yorkshire, which has World Heritage Site status. Figures such as William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton were crucial to the development of this tradition – transforming earlier formal gardens into broad sweeping landscape gardens. In the 19th century garden designers such as William Nestfield, the architect Sir Charles Barry and Gertrude Jekyll continued to experiment with new designs and innovations: newly imported exotic plants, ever more elaborate greenhouses, and gardens laid out to harmonise with the latest architectural styles. The tradition continues to evolve, with new gardens still being created in Britain. Keeping garden traditions alive and interpreting their histories for new generations is a vital part of the management of all National Trust properties. At Sissinghurst in Kent, the famous gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West are carefully maintained by a team of gardeners in the spirit of her original plans and methods. Stourhead in Wiltshire has been attracting visitors since the 18th century and today over 300,000 visitors come each year to discover its beauty for themselves. Many of our smaller properties have gardens that are every bit as important as those found at large country houses. The cottage garden and orchard at Rosedene, Warwickshire bring to life the story of the Chartists and the struggle for democratic rights. The garden at Red House in Bexleyheath, William Morris’s 19th-century home, is filled with cottage garden plants which inspired some of the most iconic designs of the Arts and Crafts movement.

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Mount Stewart
Northern Ireland When she arrived at Mount Stewart in the early 1920s Edith, Lady Londonderry, found an unremarkable parkland typical of any ‘big house’ of the day. Within 10 years, her unique passion had created a landmark in the history of the modern garden. Edith worked with ex-servicemen from the First World War, who helped turn her passion for exotic plants into a unique garden, ‘a fantasy, a wonderland of plant treasures’, according to Head Gardener Phil Rollinson. Taking full advantage of the unique microclimate found next to Strangford Lough, Mount Stewart became a true garden of the imagination. The Italian and Spanish gardens feature glorious and eccentric statuary. Tudor roses nestle beneath shapely dovecotes, while clipped Irish yews form symbols steeped in Celtic symbolism. Lady Londonderry opened the garden to the public for two days a week in the 1920s and 30s. The desire to let a wide range of people enjoy the beauty of the place led her to donate the garden to the National Trust in 1956. The Trust now has a delicate balance to achieve in conserving this design classic. We can draw on a fantastic archive of diaries and paintings and the vast knowledge of Lady Londonderry’s daughter, Lady Mairi Bury. At the same time, as Phil explains: ‘This must never become a museum piece. It’s a living collection and we want to keep to that tradition – always looking for exciting new plants and pushing the boundaries of what we can grow, just as Edith did.’

‘We need these places of pilgrimage to give us space to think and be ourselves’ Respondent to the History Matters campaign Together our gardens represent over 400 years of changing fashions in garden design, charting our evolving relationship with the natural world Above, Phil Rollinson, Head Gardener at Mount Stewart – a true garden of the imagination Over half of the population believe we are a nation of gardeners

Our gardens have huge potential to provide public benefit, but their future is not secure. The cost of maintaining them keeps growing, and is currently £11 million a year. Without new recruits to the horticultural profession, there could be even more significant challenges in the future, as traditional gardening skills are lost. Climate change will affect the character and content of our gardens as well as the cost of maintenance, and has encouraged the spread of pests and diseases. Beyond the care of the National Trust many gardens are at risk of being lost to development or neglect.

Developing gardening skills
A chronic lack of young people training to work in historic and botanic gardens could result in borders and flowerbeds at some of the country’s finest gardens being grassed over. With almost 40 per cent of the existing workforce due to retire by 2015, there are not enough younger staff available to fill their shoes. Potential recruits, young and old, are put off by what they see as a low-status job with poor wages and conditions, and limited career prospects. Yet the reality is that gardening provides a range of relevant skills, and career opportunities and conditions are the best they’ve ever been. At the National Trust our vital skills base is being eroded as experienced staff retire and only 6 per cent of the Trust’s gardening staff are under 25. Alongside our own Careership programme, the Historic and Botanic Gardens skills partnership is now helping to develop a national strategy to improve the marketing and delivery of training and work experience for young people. This is backed by an innovative web portal GROW ( which the National Trust has supported and which provides details of the different careers and training available throughout the horticulture industry.

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Adapting to climate change
Gardeners cannot stop the clock on climate change. They know our gardens must evolve to survive as the planet grows warmer. So the range of plant species and the techniques used to cultivate them will inevitably have to change. The Trust is re-thinking what conservation in a changing climate will mean, and we are already altering our gardening methods. For example, we mow over 30 square miles of lawn, consuming more than 200,000 gallons of fuel a year, so finding alternatives is vital. Those who care for historic gardens need to combine a willingness to innovate with a responsibility to protect the unique historic character of each of our gardens, and protect the biodiversity of our heritage plant collections. Chestnut Leaf Miner (Cameraria ohridella)

New pests keep coming, the latest being the Oak Processionary Moth whose larvae can defoliate oaks and cause severe health problems such as respiratory difficulties for humans and animals. The Trust is working with local authorities and organisations such as Kew Gardens and the Forestry Commission to provide guidance and help to sites affected or threatened by this pest.

Ensuring political and public support
Long-term political and public support of the contribution being made by gardens depends on them responding to public needs and wants and reaching out to new and different audiences. We want our gardens to be more accessible and involving. People want the chance to ask questions, to do research, to take home new gardening ideas, interests or produce – and in time, as volunteers, to take a hands-on role in plant conservation under the guidance of the experts.

Tackling new pests and diseases
Other forces, both natural and human, threaten our gardens. Early indicators of climate change are the increased incidence of new pests and diseases. Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae, first identified as new to this country in 2002, have so far affected 19 Trust properties, resulting in the loss of thousands of plants. The Trust has already spent over £750,000 on containment measures. We are developing and implementing biosecurity measures through informative posters at properties to remind our staff and volunteers of good practice. We are also a partner in the £25 million Government-funded programme to tackle Phytophthora.

Oranges and other citrus fruit could be a common sight in UK gardens under climate change

The sense of pride and achievement through being involved in gardens projects paves the way for people to realise their own potential. Many of the garden projects we’re involved in are resource-intensive and many of them are almost entirely reliant on one-off funding. Longer-term investment in this work would allow the connections generated between the Trust and others to become better established. ‘I spent my career as an engineer in the metal processing industries and experienced at first hand what a mess we can make of the environment; working in a National Trust garden offers me an opportunity to enjoy and contribute to a better human endeavour!’ Tristram Hill, Volunteer at Treasurer’s House, York and Beningbrough Hall and Gardens, North Yorkshire

Flooding at Coughton Court, Warwickshire

2 6 N AT I O N A L T R u S T

Call to action
Gardens have immense potential beyond the conventional boundaries in which we place them. Through the experience of the Trust’s own diverse collection of more than 200 gardens we have begun to understand this power and the ways in which gardens can transform people and places. The National Trust cannot achieve all this alone and we are already working in partnership with many other botanical and horticultural organisations across the uK and beyond. If we are to release the potential of gardens, however, more needs to be done by Government, local authorities, business and others to recognise the extent of the true value of gardens for the benefit of us all. There are seven areas in particular where more action needs to be taken…

Recruit and train tomorrow’s gardeners
Greater effort needs to be made to promote careers in gardening in schools. Training in horticulture should be boosted through education reforms for 14 to 19-year-olds, such as apprenticeships and work experience, and national and local voluntary bodies expanding the scope for garden volunteering.

Use gardens as outdoor classrooms
Local authorities should actively enable and support schools to use gardens as places for learning, and gardening as a doorway to science, ecology, arts and cultural learning.

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Develop garden spaces for communities
Expanding and improving the quality of public and community gardens and allotments should be at the heart of green infrastructure strategies and community development, particularly in areas with a poverty of green space.

Develop the healthcare potential of gardens
The Government and NHS Primary Care Trusts should exploit the full potential of gardens as a ‘Natural Health Service’ in promoting physical and mental well-being. Investment should reflect their role in preventative healthcare and gardens should be a regular ‘prescription’ to improve the health of the nation.

Respond to the threat of new pests and diseases
The Government and the gardening sector should raise standards for biosecurity, domestically and internationally, and invest in research and eradication programmes. We need to support the industry in developing sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives to the many synthetic pesticides that will soon be withdrawn under Eu regulations.

Inspire green thinking and promote greener living
All those concerned with engaging people about climate change, wildlife conservation and greener living should harness the extremely effective vehicle of gardens to tell the story and inspire action through informal learning, advocacy, volunteering, social marketing, campaigns and expansion of opportunities for allotments and other growing spaces.

Share best practice within the garden and horticultural sector
We need to share best practice and knowledge within the sector and provide stronger championing of the public benefit of gardens. We would like to explore the idea of building a network of garden organisations, to press for a better deal for gardens.

If you require this information in alternative formats, please call 020 7799 4541 or email externalaffairs @
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