Use Places & People to search over 6,600 parks and gardens in the UK and 2,100 biographies of people associated with them. Image location: Bedgebury National Pinetum

Learn about the rich heritage of parks and gardens in Topics.
Image location: Powis Castle

Follow News & Events, updated regularly with the latest information affecting historic parks and gardens. Image location: Sheffield Botanical Gardens

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Image location: Cirencester Abbey

View the Illustrated Glossary which provides definitions and accompanying images for terms and concepts associated with historic parks and gardens. Image location: Pannett Park

An Overview of Research and Recording Practice

Article Index

  1. An Overview of Research and Recording Practice
  2. Researching and sources of information
  3. Getting started
  4. Making a site survey
  5. Writing up your findings
  6. All Pages

recording dayMaking a site survey

Making an on-the-spot survey of the garden itself is as important as doing the documentary research. Designers' plans were (and are) rarely carried out exactly, and a survey can provide more reliable information about what actually happened than archive material alone.

  • Walk over the site with copies of old maps, plans and illustrations and identify changes in boundaries and any surviving features.
  • Locate the principal building and the main component areas of the site, such as a walled kitchen garden, a rose garden, or a maze.
  • Look for ‘lumps and bumps' on the ground, which may be the remains of former features (drives, paths, buildings or water features).
  • Identify current elements of the garden, such as water features, garden architecture and ornaments, trees and the remains of planting schemes.
  • Make a written note of the condition of all garden features and structures, and take plenty of photographs.
  • Identify tree and shrub species, their position and condition, and estimate their age.
  • Look for signs of planting schemes, such as rows or clumps of trees or tree pits in parkland, showing where trees once stood.
  • Identify important views within or beyond the garden which may now be hidden by younger planting.