logocolour bestWelcome to the Birkbeck Garden History Group web site. The group is interested in studying garden history through lectures, garden visits and exhibitions and in encouraging others to become interested in the subject of garden history. Click on the links along the top of the page to find out more about the BGHG and our activities. Click ‘Follow’ at the bottom of this page on the right to receive alerts when new items are posted.

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April 2021 Update

Our Lectures Calendar has been updated and details 40 garden history lectures we are aware of taking place between 6 April and 14 June 2021. Amongst these is a new series of Unforgettable Gardens focusing on London, and a lecture from the Sussex Snowdrop Trust about Denmans, one of the gardens BGHG had planned to visit in 2020 and the first to fall victim to the arrival of the pandemic.

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March Update II

Our LECTURE CALENDAR 2021vi_MARCH_15_UPDATE is now in its sixth version with the addition of a further 27 online lectures between 18 March and 14 June. As well as two new individual lectures the calendar includes a further 4-week Unforgettable Gardens series – this time focusing on gardens in Wales; a 6-week series on Gardens of the Early-17th Century; a 5-week series on Garden Archaeology; and a10-week Other Voices in Garden History series.    

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March Update

The 2021 Lectures Calendar has been updated and now includes some 40+ lectures from 15 different organisations taking place in March and April. You can view or download it here

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February Update

The BGHG Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday 23 February at 18.30 online via Zoom. All papers have been sent out to Members and sign-in details will be sent to all members a few days before the event.

An updated version of our Lectures Calendar 2021 provides details of a further 15 lectures including details of  the BGHG Lecture Series, full details of which are now also available on our BGHG Future Events page.


A new paperback book by Fergus Garrett: Great Dixter: Then & Now has been added to our Publications page.

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January Update II

Our BGHG LECTURE CALENDAR 2021iii has been updated with the addition of a further 8 lectures: Bucks Gardens Trust (BGT) are presenting talks on a variety of topics ranging from Public Parks in Milton Keynes to The Gardens and Estates of the Caetani at Ninfa and Sermoneta, Italy, alongside The Garden in Twentieth Century British Art.  At the Garden Museum (GM) Charles Aldington will be in conversation with the Museum’s director, Christopher Woodward; and The Gardens Trust’s new series: Portraits, Politics and Passion will feature Thomas Gainsborough, William Morris, Winston Churchill and Cedric Morris

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January 2021 Update

Firstly, and of prime importance to BGHG members, is our Annual General Meeting which this year will be taking place online, using Zoom, at 18.30 on Tuesday, 23 February. The Business Meeting will be followed by a short lecture by Peter Hughes, QC, current Chair of the Gardens Trust. The topic for Peter’s lecture will be Conservation and the Challenge of Garden Tourism. An invitation to the AGM and related papers have already been sent to BGHG members.

Our LECTURES CALENDAR 2021ii has been updated with a further 12 lectures added: new entries have been underlined to differentiate from previous entries. New entries include a second series of Unforgettable Gardens from the Gardens Trust; Trees with Tales to Tell – Cultural Heritage and Britain’s Ancient and Notable Trees – from the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (THCP) – in which  Claire Slack, Heritage Officer at THCP, will explore the cultural heritage of some of Britain’s Ancient and Notable trees, from myths and legends to eco-tourism and the dangers to conservation surrounding widespread fame; a lecture from Surrey-based Dunsfold & Hascombe Horticultural Society on Surrey Gardens; and the IHR Winter Term’s Gardens & Landscapes seminars continuing their theme of Rus in Urbe from the 2020 autumn term.

A new online course Gardens in Opera and Ballet starts at the City Literary Institute on Friday 15 January 10.30 -12.30 and will run until 12 February. For full details and to book visit https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/gardens-in-opera-and-ballet

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December 2020 Update III

An updated version of our 2021 Lectures Calendar is now available for download here LECTURE CALENDAR 2021i

The Lectures List currently contains 51 lectures being offered from 5 January – 24 April 2021. The list will be updated as and when new lectures are announced. 

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mid-December 2020 Update

If you think you may have missed out on online garden history lectures in 2020, fear not: there are even more to come in 2021.

The current calendar for lectures during January to April 2021 reads as follows:

There are currently 7 lecture series on offer:

Man, Myth and Mountains: Reginald Farrer and His World

Unforgettable Gardens

England’s Post-war Designed Landscapes: Rediscovered and Revalued

LGT/GT Winter Lecture Series (various)

Sculpture in the Designed Landscape

Thames Luminaries

Walled Kitchen Gardens, Glasshouses and Plants for the House

Visit Garden History Lectures & Talks for further information and how to book



Tuesday 5 January – Man, Myth and Mountains 1: The Power of Farrer

Wednesday 6 January – Unforgettable Gardens 1: Lyveden New Bield

Monday 11 January – Biodiversity & the Wild West End Project: Encouraging Birds, Bees & Bats into the Heart of London

Tuesday 12 January – Man, Myth and Mountains 2: The Rescue of an Edwardian Rock Garden

Wednesday 13 January – Unforgettable Gardens 2: Coton Manor

Friday 15 January – England’s post-war designed landscapes: an overview 

Saturday 16 January – Purchasing Paradise

Tuesday 19 January – Man, Myth and Mountains 3: Farrer in the Alps and the Far East

Wednesday 20 January – Unforgettable Gardens 3: Burghley Walled Garden

Thursday 21 January – Sculpture in Italian Renaissance gardens 

Friday 22 January – ‘The Public Relation Value’ – landscapes of infrastructure in post-war England.

Monday 25 January – The Integration of Derek Jarman’s Garden

Tuesday 26 January – Man, Myth and Mountains 4: Plants, Books and Journeys

Wednesday 27 January – Unforgettable Gardens 4: Deene Park

Wednesday 27 January – Thames Luminaries: Within the garden walls at Hogarth’s House

Thursday 28 January – Thames Luminaries: A painter’s garden: J.M.W. Turner and the grounds of Sandycombe Lodge

Friday 29 January – The 21st century value of English post-war parks and civic spaces

Friday 29 January – Thames Luminaries: Alexander Pope: the poet and the poetic landscape


Wednesday 3 February – Thames Luminaries: Chiswick House, William Kent, and the birth of the English Landscape Movement

Thursday 4 February – Sculpture in British Georgian gardens

Thursday 4 February – Thames Luminaries: Marble Hill: Howard and her garden of grottos and groves

Friday 5 February – The business of the commercial designed landscape in post-war England

Friday 5 February – Thames Luminaries: Strawberry Hill: the open grove in which Walpole explored the ‘gaiety in nature’

Monday 8 February – Too Young to be Loved? Post-war designed landscapes of London and environs

Wednesday 10 February – Thames Luminaries: Fishponds, great cedars and Jayne Mansfield – renovating the historic landscapes of Boston Manor Park for the 21st century

Thursday 11 February – Thames Luminaries: Pleasure Garden to Parkland: The Changing Landscape of Orleans House

Friday 12 February – Thames Luminaries: 17th to 21st century – is Ham House Garden still a garden of contemporary ideas?

Friday 12 February – Death and post-war designed landscapes

Thursday 18 February – Sculpting the Land

Friday 19 February – ‘An Abundance of Green and Open Spaces’ housing landscapes in the post-war period

Saturday 20 February – Restoring Audley End’s Walled Kitchen Garden  

Monday 22 February – Transatlantic Slavery’s Long Reach: The impacts of direct and indirect slavery connections on eighteenth century estate gardens and parks in Britain 

Friday 26 February – Post-war gardens: structure and the pretties, their recognition and care


Friday 5 March – Late 20th century English university landscapes

Thursday 6 March – Sculpting Water

Monday 8 March – Dinosaurs, Italian Terraces and Future Sustainability: Crystal Palace Park

Saturday 20 March – A Short History of the Glasshouse

Monday 22 March – What is Wild? – Dr Kim Wilkie


Saturday 10 April – Flowers for the House: The Story of the Cutting Garden

Saturday 24 April – Is it all over for the Fiddle Leaf Fig? Fads and Fashions In Houseplants.


New courses – all online – have been added to our Garden History Studies pages: Under Garden History Short Courses (1-3 days) you will find two courses from the Cambridge Botanic Garden and at Longer Garden History Courses there are courses from The Garden Historians and from The Gardens Trust.

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December 2020 Update

As we move into the festive season we have again asked our BGHG committee to suggest garden history-related books that might make a suitable gift at Christmas. Our list this year contains books focusing on garden design, allotments, parks, gardens in art, biography, garden visiting, and plants: their history, use in folklore, magic and medicine, and in re-wilding and nature. Titles include:

Marianne North: The Kew Collection by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Of Cabbages and Kings: The History of Allotments by Caroline Foley

On Landscape Design: In the words of the Masters through the centuries by Charles Aldrington

The Well Gardened Mind: Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World by Sue Stuart-Smith

Beth Chatto: a life in plants by Catherine Horwood

The Tulip by Anna Pavord

20 Sussex Gardens by Lorraine Harrison

Witch’s Garden: Plants in Folklore, magic and traditional medicine by Sandra Lawrence

A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution by Travis Elborough

Wilding: the Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree

You can view or download the list of BGHG Christmas Book Suggestions 2020 below with full details and reviews.

BGHG Christmas Book Suggestions 2020

and if none of those suggestions are what you are looking for there’s always the book featured in our October II Update, published by the Association of Bloomsbury Squares and Gardens and written by the current Chair of the BGHG Committee, Susan Jellis.

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November 2020 Update

As the whole country faces a further period of lockdown some of the face-to-face activities listed on this website will not now be able to take place so you are advised to check with the relevant organisation to ascertain their plans.

Cambridge Institute for Continuing Education (ICE) has already decided to cancel all face-to-face teaching until at least April 2021.

There are, however, numerous talks and lectures already being delivered online: see our GARDEN HISTORY STUDIES pages for details. The BGHG Annual Lecture on Tuesday, 10 November will be delivered online as previously announced. There are still a few places available: booking information as sent out to members. Full details are available on our BIRKBECK FUTURE EVENTS page,

Answers to our October Gardens Quiz can now be found on the COVID-19 GARDENS QUIZ page.

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