At the end of January I attended the Garden History Society Council Meeting, writes GHSS Chair Judy Riley. Much of the agenda was taken up with the merger with the AGT and the attendant business plan, now available on the Garden History Society website. Details of the merger can also be found in the spring newsletter. We envisage our new organisations working closely together and, to this end, reciprocal ex officio membership of each other’s Board has been agreed.


In the absence of a Conservation Officer during this period of transition, we have had to curtail our responses to planning applications and scoping requests. Historic Scotland will always respond when Inventory landscapes are threatened. However, we did send a short response to the application for re-development at Loudoun Castle, East Ayrshire. The scale of the proposal gave us serious cause for concern as we considered the introduction of an informal lake, with attendant buildings, inappropriate in this formal setting. It is possible we may miss important cases, so if you are concerned about a local development, do please contact us at

With our limited capacity and no evidence that the new Historic Environment Scotland will have more rather than less funding, we have been considering the position that the SGLH should occupy in this sector. We are therefore organising a mini-symposium to address this in the autumn, and in due course invitations will be sent to key organisations and interested individuals.

Our idea is to address the headline issues concerning the conservation of historic gardens and designed landscapes in Scotland. It will be an opportunity for discussion on what SGLH should and can do to address the issues (policy) and, in broad terms, how (implementation). We will also be investigating the establishment of future bidding partnerships and taking advice.

The policy will then be developed by the committee, a document will be drawn up and the SGLH Trustees will work out how best to implement its provisions. If you are interested in joining a conservation group, do get in touch with me (

Other conservation work has continued as group organisers have updated the relevant casework files for links on our new website. In the meantime, our two conservation projects in the Clyde and Avon Valley and Falkirk, undertaken in collaboration with Northlight Heritage, have got off to an excellent start, with Sue Hewer acting as our coordinator. Sue has provided a lively account of progress to date on the Glorious Gardens project.

In the recent issue of The Pleasaunce you will find the first article in a series we are planning about Scottish gardens and gardeners overseas. Contributed by Dr James Simpson, this first article focuses on the Indian Botanical Garden in Kolkata. Sticking with the oriental theme, you will also find a vivid account of a plant-hunting trip to China by Theo Stanning.

SGLH needs you!

I am going to end with a plea for your help. The Committee has raised from its own members much of the money to cover the initial cost of the website, but we now look to our wider membership to help us get on our feet. Please consider making a donation to us over and above your subscription.

In order for the SGLH Trustees to go and ask others for money, we need to show that we have faith in our organisation. Your past membership of the GHS has shown that you are one of those who care about our garden and landscape heritage. Current legislation pays lip service to its conservation and enjoyment but without us fighting its corner, it is a fragile resource.

We need to build up some unrestricted funds to enable us to have some security, to meet day-to-day running costs and to have the resources to fulfill our conservation agenda. Until we are a going concern, it is awkward asking for sponsorship (though I am pleased to report that one firm has promised £500.00 to help us on our way now that we have approval from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator). So please consider giving us a leg up! (Cheques should be made out to Scotland’s Garden and Landscape Heritage)

I look forward to seeing you at our last GHSS and first SGLH AGMs which will be held at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery. We were conceived, so to speak, at last November’s EGM in Stirling, and it seems appropriate that we should return there for our re-naissance. It will be an exciting day for us all. And our speaker in the afternoon, Bill Brogden, one of the GHS ‘founding fathers’ will talk on Stephen Switzer: 300 years – the Scottish connection. He will also mark the 50th anniversary of the GHS by recalling our own past and remembering those, especially Frank Clark, who set us on our path.

Do join SGLH and become a founder member!