Join Us


Wotton, Bucks

Courses include 1-day or weekend courses, short courses over a few weeks, as well as those lasting one or more academic terms.   Amongst current providers are:  


A new MA in Garden History started in October 2023. The next opportunity to join the course will be January 2024 

The course will be a research- rather than taught-degree and can be taken over 1 or 2 years. 

The course will be organised around a series of case study seminars looking at significant sites, which will be led by owners and professionals. These will be complemented by background lectures about the period to give a wider context. There will also be a number of day visits to other important historic gardens.

Seminars will be held at the university’s base in central London while the lectures will be online. To find out more.


The Modern British Garden: The Interwar Years  - Wednesdays 4 October - 6 December 2023 from 10.00 -12.00

This course will explore the interwar years which would become one of the most important and influential periods in the history of garden design; one which brought together art, artists, writers, architects and designers. Participants will study artists, writers and sculptors active throughout garden history, and the gardens they created, painted, or wrote about. Gardens that are well known as well as a few private gardens will be discussed, encompassing gardens throughout Great Britain, Europe and America.  For full deails and to book a place click on the link above.

The Formal Garden: structure and symmetry - Wednesdays 10 January - 13 March 2024 from 10.00 - 12.00

The formal garden continues to be a significant element of garden design and landscape architecture. From Italy on, this course will bring the history of formal gardens right up to date, with a discourse that runs counter to the dominant fashion for naturalism and wild planting.

The course will explore designers and gardens that work within a rigid formality, where geometry is king and the Arts and Crafts and modern architectural inspiration abound. Overall, the Modern formal garden is a sophisticated and elegant style of garden design that emphasises simplicity, order, and balance. It is an ideal choice for those who appreciate a clean and contemporary aesthetic in their outdoor spaces. For full deails and to book a place click on the link above.

It’s not all Country Life: the new urban garden - Wednesdays 17 April - 19 June 2024 from 10.00 -12.00

The 21st century is proving to be a sea-change in how gardens are created and maintained. Climate change, new plants and design challenges combine to create a whole new dialogue around the contemporary garden.  This course will explore many of ground-breaking new gardens, designers and approaches, rural and urban, small and large.  For full deails and to book a place click on the link above.

THE GARDEN HISTORIANS in association with Imperial College, London.

Italian Renaissance Gardens - Imperial College, London from 9th October 2023

Early Italian gardens, often belonging to monasteries, were enclosed by walls, and used for growing vegetables, fruits and medicinal herbs. To our eyes, these medieval gardens can look beautiful, but their primary aim was functional. So how did Italian gardens evolve into playgrounds of the mythical gods, with winged horses landing on Mount Parnassus, giants dipping into fishponds and bronze birds fluttering over fountains?  Whether you enjoy gardening or visiting gardens, or are just fascinated by history, art history or the Renaissance world, join us on this extraordinary exploration into the birth of the modern garden five centuries ago! Sessions will be informal and will involve no coursework. No previous knowledge of garden history is required. For full information and to book click on the title link above.


English Landscape Gardens: 1650 to the Present Day (Online)

This course is the ideal introduction to English garden history. It provides an overview of five centuries of development, from Baroque formalism through the naturalistic landscape style, right up to contemporary cutting-edge planting style. The course was written by Tim Richardson, an independent garden historian and landscape critic. Fuller details of content, tutors and more can be found by clicking the dates below.

Course dates 
Wednesday 27 September - Friday 8 December 2023 bookimg now open
Monday 29 January - Friday 19 April 2024  open for booking on 27 September 2023


Architecture in the Landscape Garden - Wednesdays 17 April - 26 June  2024 from 16.00 -17.00

 Using a broad definition of what has become known as the landscape garden, this course will explore the design of 'hard' elements like bridges, temples, arches, grottoes and follies within the wider context of architecture over the centuries. Participants will be encouraged to consider the aesthetic impact of architectural elements within gardens as a whole, whether an enclosed, urban garden or a far-ranging landscape, and the course will look at the challenges involved in preserving and interpreting historic gardens and landscapes.

Full for full details of course content and structure,and to book a place click the link above.



Portugal is a long country with a varied terrain, and a cultural history at times dominated by Spain with influences from Italy, the Low Countries and English trade and military support. The architectural and artistic legacy of this history was often enormously spectacular and colourful and at other periods quite plain and domestic in scale. This is apparent in church, palace and civic buildings, their tiled and painted decoration, formally tiled and landscaped gardens and parks, and their adaptation to an Atlantic seaboard but a Mediterranean climate at home and abroad from Madeira to Macao.

Full for full details of course content and structure click the link above.

This course will explore the effect of the last four centuries on the landscape around us. In 1600 most of the population still lived in the country, but the changes of the early modern and modern period mean that the majority today is urban. Yeoman farmers built up their land holdings during the 17th century, and the new gentry increased theirs too, at the expense of small farmers. In the 18th and 19th centuries Parliamentary enclosure reshaped whole landscapes, and enormous acreages were reclaimed from the wild.  At the same time new fashions in houses and gardens were transforming the gentry's surroundings, and the mills and factories were marching across the fields elsewhere. 

Full for full details of course content and structure click the link above.

Gardens and horticulture have been a central part of human civilisation, and any changes in our gardens reflect changes in the wider society and vice versa. This course explores the origins of the Italian Renaissance Garden, its key features, elements and underlying principles as well as their far-reaching legacy of its Victorian, early 20th century revival.

Fuller details can be found by clicking the link above, where you can also enrol. 

New Perspectives on Botanical Gardens - 18.00 on Friday 31 May to 12.45 on Sunday 2 June 2024

This weekend course will explore and debate the contribution of botanical gardens to research, education, conservation, well-being and commerce from the 17th century to the present day.  New scholarship will be presented to illuminate the involvement of designers, plant hunters, gardeners, scientists, artists, governments and local communities – and to tell the forgotten stories of those who suffered as plants became commodities in global trade. The weekend will include tours of the country's oldest botanic garden: Oxford Botanic Garden/

For details and to book click the link above.


~  none current  ~


The City Literary Institute

Archaeology of London gardens: Saturday 11 May 2024 from 11.00-16.00

This 1-day course will explore ways in which archaeological excavations have been used to research garden designs and features at some of the UK's most well known, and also lesser known, parks and gardens. Examples both from London and from the surrounding areas will be used to gain an overall understanding of this lesser publicised side of the archaeology of the past.

For full details and to book a place click the link above.

~ none current ~


Diploma in Garden History This Diploma course is currently a blend of online learning and study days/weekends. The course consists of five units which are divided over four terms within the two-year duration of the course, If you would like to find out more and to register an interest in the next course go to RBGE Diploma 

are offering 4-week online course The History of Garden Design. Taught by Dr Toby Musgrave, this course can be taken at any time, with a choice of two available formats.

‘Ornamental gardens are complex, three-dimensional, (albeit overlooked) works of art, and ever since the first garden was made in Ancient Egypt some 4,300 ago they have acted as cultural barometers…………….’  Read more about this online course at The History of Garden Design including how to book
A separate course on offer from the same source is The Conservation of Historic Gardens. This course is taught by Dr Aubrey Gerber, a specialist in garden conservation  

'Garden style is defined by a relationship between fashion and function. Influenced by politics, art and socio-economic trends, historic gardens provide us with opportunities for simple recreation or complex education from which we can learn about past cultures, horticultural techniques and patterns of life. Historic gardens are not living museums; they are enriched and challenged by change. Understanding the origin and influence of these changes, and recognising our capacity and responsibility to sensitively manage change, is the essence of conservation.

In this course Audrey will explain why conservation is relevant to you, locally and globally. You will learn how to research a site, using formal and informal sources. This will enable you to write a detailed statement of significance, which is essential to articulating why a site deserves to be conserved.

Follow the links above to learn more detials of each course. 


This course explores the evolution of gardens from Roman times to the present day and how they have evolved to reflect our culture. Course content, delivered through 8 lessons, will cover garden designers, great gardens and gardeners of the world, private and public gardens, globalisation of gardens, scope and nature of modern garden conservation, the roles of organisations in garden conservation and much more.

The course is a self-paced, 100-hour course that is studied by distance learning. It can be started anytime from anywhere in the world, and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in garden history and useful to those working in fields such as Garden Design, Landscaping, Garden Renovation & Restoration, Conservation, History, working for local councils or Heritage Trusts, and staff working on the ground in parks and gardens. For a detailed description of course content and to enrol visit ACS Distance Education 


Related Articles