THE GARDENS TRUST:
A POWERFUL NEW VOICE FOR BRITAIN'S PARKS AND GARDENS
In 2015 the Garden History Society (GHS) and the Association of Garden Trusts (AGT) voted to merge to become The Gardens Trust, a new body created to harness the strengths of the two existing organisations.
The main aims of the merger of the GHS and AGT are:
- To speak with a more powerful voice for the protection of parks, gardens and designed landscape;
- To play a key garden conservation role in the planning system as a statutory consultee;
- To provide support to strengthen the local activity of the County and Country Gardens Trusts;
- To be an internationally regarded centre of excellence in the study of garden history;
- To live within the means of the merged organisation and be financially sustainable over the long term.
The first AGM of The Gardens Trust elected a slate of 12 members of the Board. The first chairman is Dr. James Bartos and Vice Chairman is Michael Dawson. Dominic Cole OBE, formerly chairman of the GHS, was elected President. Five sub-committees were established to reflect the areas of activity and interest of the new organisation, covering conservation, events, publications, membership and administration and finance.
The creation of The Gardens Trust is the culmination of some five years' work and discussion which also involved Parks and Gardens UK (the gardens database and website) and the Garden Museum. The move is fully supported by Historic England. The impetus for the merger was a sense that both the GHS and the AGT would be much stronger if working together, especially in terms of conservation activity. To that end, the Historic Landscape Project was formed in 2010 by the AGT to begin the process of devolving much of the responsibility for the conservation of historic landscapes to the County Gardens Trusts (CGTs). A small team of conservation officers travelled around Britain with the objective of establishing or consolidating conservation activity within different CGTs -- an initiative that has proved extremely successful. The intention is that the CGTs will over time take on more of the conservation work within their regions, with the central Gardens Trust conservation team concentrating on larger or more complex cases or national policy.
Dominic Cole OBE, first President of The Gardens Trust, said ' I'm delighted at the merger, I never really understood why we had two organisations doing much the same thing'. Now the combined memberships of all the CGTs -- all that knowledge and enthusiasm -- can be merged with the specialist expertise and academic clout of the old GHS to become much more effective not just in conservation but in actively campaigning to protect our designed landscapes. I believe that this merger is a great opportunity for both organisations.'
For more information and/or interviews, please phone or email Gardens Trust board member Tim Richardson: 07930 420609; firstname.lastname@example.org.