Gardens at Risk
Some 372 Parks and Gardens in Wales have been placed on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register. These are nationally designated sites varying in size and character, including public and private parks and gardens valued for their beauty, diversity, and historic interest. In comparison to the number of listed buildings this represents a small number of properties of heritage significance. It is therefore a concern that a number are considered ‘at risk’.
Parks and gardens can become ‘at risk’ for a variety of reasons. Some have suffered from continued periods of neglect, others are threatened with inappropriate development, diseases such as Phytophthora ramorum causing ‘Sudden Oak Death, or invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum may threaten certain properties and a few gardens are probably lost through ignorance. Ignorance particularly applies to the ‘Essential Settings’ which are often tracts of landscape all too often taken for granted. There is also a wide lack of appreciation of designed views - often developed with considerable effort and not insignificant cost which also are important aspects of our heritage, sometimes the subject of prose or poetry.
The registered area afforded guardianship is frequently not large enough and as the protection of heritage landscapes is not statutory it is likely that further Welsh landscapes will be lost or are ‘at risk’.
English Heritage has now published its Parks and Gardens at Risk Register 2009, these are the registered parks and gardens most at risk due to neglect, decay and the pressures from development. This involves 96 parks and gardens ranging from public parks and cemetery gardens to the gardens of stately homes, totalling some 6% of parks and gardens on the English register. This now means that there is a greater awareness of those gardens which might soon be lost and greater efforts can be focussed on trying to save them.
We hope to compile a similar list for Welsh gardens and parks ‘at risk’. If you are aware of any park or garden in your area which seems neglected or has a fragile status please contact Ros Laidlaw or Glynis Shaw