Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Time to wake up?

(Copyright Liz Ware)

Spring is on its way and
The Association of Gardens Trusts 2015 Yearbook is hitting the bookshelves of County Gardens Trust (CGT) members around the country.  In this year's lead article, Chris Beardshaw writes about the responsibility we all have to present and explain our heritage gardens and landscapes to a new generation.  The CGT articles that follow show the many creative ways in which we are taking that responsibility very seriously.

There's the Surrey Gardens Trust's development of  'Gateway' visits; London Parks & Gardens Trust's collaboration with the Duke of Northumberland and his team at Syon Park; and Hertfordshire Gardens Trust's ground-breaking collaboration with the Woodland Trust at Tring Park.

From Somerset Gardens Trust's work with schools to Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust's Research and Recording project to record Aylesbury Cemetery, it's difficult to believe that such a wide variety of successful projects has been created - and all by volunteers.

Gilly Drummond (AGT President and Chairman of CB300 Project Management Board) also brings us up to date with news about Capability Brown Festival 2016.  How exciting that Alan Titchmarsh will be presenting a three-part series on Brown at Belvoir Castle for Channel 4.  How wonderful that so many events are being planned to tempt urban audiences to explore Brown's landscapes.

The opportunities for waking people up, not just to Brown, but to all our historic landscapes and the  wellbeing we experience when we're in the natural world, are growing by the day.  Perhaps this is just the right time for the UK based and multidisciplinary Landscape, Gardens and Health Network to make an appearance?

Last year's Symposium on 'Healthy Landscapes' held at the Garden Museum was inspirational.  But, despite its fascinating content and excellent speakers, it seemed to me that something crucial was missing.  While the positive effects of landscape on our minds and bodies had comprehensive coverage, our spiritual connection with nature barely had a mention.

The recently established Landscape, Gardens and Health Network recognises that we need to take a more holistic approach.  It would be good to think that it in the near future it will be common sense to include an appraisal of spiritual benefits in any evaluation of a landscape, rather than pretending that they don't exist.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre (copyright Liz Ware)

The Network's latest meeting and Seminar (held at the exemplary Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre in Bristol) brought together a mix of gardeners, landscape architects, designers, academics and health care professionals to discuss their work and to make plans for the future of the network.

A website and an international conference highlighting current research are just two of the options being discussed.  There's no shortage of material.  The eight very brief presentations given by network members left me wanting to hear more from them all.  Why, for example, does designer Juliet Sergeant feel that an over-emphasis on the visual beauty of gardens may be leading us to underestimate their full potential?  How does a garden designed for dementia patients as described by Stephen Pettet-Smith differ from the hospice gardens designed by Kathyrn Aalto and Jeremy Parker?

Contact or for more information.

No comments:

Post a Comment