What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or government agency (referred to as a holder) that permanently limits a property’s uses to protect its conservation values, such as its special gardens. Each easement's restrictions are tailored to the particular property, to the interests of the individual owner, and to the policies and purposes of the easement holder. Landowners conveying conservation easements retain title to their lands and continue to enjoy all the benefits of land ownership, subject to the easement’s restrictions, local codes, and other applicable governmental regulations.
Following is a list of the Garden Conservancy's current conservation easements. You can also download a PDF of the list with a short description of conservation easements, by clicking here.
More detailed information on the easement acquisition process, documentation, tax benefits, and ongoing stewardship are available from the Preservation Projects department at the Garden Conservancy.
The Garden Conservancy’s conservation easements
The Conservancy currently holds six garden conservation easements in the United States. These easements protect the gardens in perpetuity by assuring that they will be retained predominantly in their current condition as historic, horticultural, and educational resources. The easements prevent any uses that would significantly impair or interfere with the land’s identified conservation values.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden
Walnut Creek, California
In 1992, Ruth Bancroft donated an easement to the Garden Conservancy to protect her exquisite 2.5-acre dry garden, which she created over a 40-year period. Her garden is an extraordinary collection of succulents and cacti and is nationally recognized as one of America’s finest gardens. The Bancroft Garden is now owned and operated by a nonprofit organization the Conservancy helped establish. Visitor facilities are planned for the site.
Mt. Kisco, New York
In 2000, the Garden Conservancy received a conservation easement donation from Rocky Hills owner Henriette Suhr. This 14-acre property in the northern suburbs of New York features an outstanding collection of trees and flowering shrubs, a woodland garden, a fern garden, a wildflower meadow, and extensive bulb plantings, all developed over fifty years by Mrs. Suhr and her late husband, William Suhr. Rocky Hills will eventually become a public garden, owned by Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
The Garden Conservancy received an easement donation from the Keil family in 2002. The 34-acre Keil Cove property is located on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Its landscape garden was created for the family in the 1890s, and was designed by John McLaren, the landscape architect responsible for designing and developing Golden Gate Park. The property includes three houses, a quarter mile of beach, a five-acre lake, fourteen acres of developed gardens and forests home to a number of rare and endangered species.
In 2004, the Fleishhacker family donated an easement to the Garden Conservancy that protects a historically significant garden and architectural landscape. The 75-acre Green Gables estate, designed by famed architect Charles Sumner Greene in the early twentieth century, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The easement restricts subdivision or further development of the property, and ensures that the historic gardens, buildings, and landscape will be preserved and maintained.
San Francisco, California
In 2005, the Garden Conservancy acquired an easement over a vacant lot adjacent to the Greenwich Street pedestrian stairway in the Telegraph Hill Historic District. Historically important as open space, the lot was once a garden started in the 1930s by Valetta Heslet, who also planted gardens in an adjacent public right-of-way. After preparing a landscape plan in consultation with the Garden Conservancy, the owners rebuilt a garden for the public to view and enjoy from the pedestrian stairway.
Elizabeth Lawrence Garden
Charlotte, North Carolina
In 2008, the Wing Haven Foundation purchased the house and garden of Elizabeth Lawrence (1904–1985), listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Garden Conservancy acquired a conservation easement over the property when this purchase occured. Lawrence, a celebrated garden writer and plantswoman in the South, began her garden in 1949 and transformed it into a living laboratory for her study of plants and landscape design. The easement protects the garden’s layout, hardscape, and woody plants, as well as the historic house.
The Garden Conservancy, Preservation Projects Department
P.O. Box 219, Cold Spring, NY 10516
T: 845.424.6500 F: 845.424.6501