The Garden Conservancy's mission is to save and share outstanding American gardens for the education and inspiration of the public. Our garden preservation program is the key way we address the "saving" portion of the mission.
The Garden Conservancy provides preservation assistance using a collaborative approach that honors and supplements the skills and experience of each garden's owner(s) or local managment team, with the goal of helping gardens become sustainable, independent public resources. The Garden Conservancy does not own or manage any gardens and does not accept property donations or bequests.
Below are some current examples of our garden preservation work. For a more complete list of gardens we have helped save or restore, see our Preservation Portfolio.
How We Began
In 1988, Frank and Anne Cabot toured Ruth Bancroft’s three-acre garden in Walnut Creek, California, with its extensive collection of rare and mature succulents and cacti, many in full flower and all thriving. During the visit, Mrs. Bancroft mentioned to them that there were no plans for the garden beyond her lifetime.
Afterwards, Anne asked Frank, “Why don’t you start a garden conservancy?” Within a year, his enthusiasm for her suggestion awakened a positive preservation force that became the Garden Conservancy.
Since 1989, we have helped save or restore more than eighty North American gardens. True to our mission, we help preserve gardens for the education and inspiration of the public. These gardens, from the smallest to the largest, manifest the artistic spirits of their creators and showcase the broad diversity of climate, soil condition, and garden styles found on this continent. Gardens connect people to nature, bringing beauty, spirituality, and solace into our daily lives. They provide spaces for communities to gather and for people to interact, and they bring our shared culture and history to life. As living works of art, they embody both the creative force of human artistry and the powerful beauty of nature. We welcome you to join us in the effort to preserve, share, and promote the vital role that gardens play in our culture and history, and, indeed, our quality of life. For a list of gardens we have helped save or restore, see our Preservation Portfolio.
- Our Philosophy
- By preserving gardens for future generations, the Garden Conservancy works within the broader realm of historic preservation and environmental conservation. Gardens are manmade, artful landscapes. As with all art, gardens enhance our experience and understanding of the larger world. Unlike much art, however, gardens are also living entities and connect us directly to nature. Our Preservation Department acts as an incubator and coach to help gardens achieve long-term existence. Some of the ways we help may include:
- Saving gardens through preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, or transition into sustainable public status
- Assisting gardens with guidance on vision, feasibility, management, and best practices
- Educating partners and the general public on development of internal infrastructure, fundraising, strategies for preservation, marketing, membership, volunteers, and empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to reach their goals.
- Our Services
- The scale and scope of our work varies. Sometimes the Garden Conservancy’s help comes in the form of a series of phone calls and meetings. Other times our involvement is far more extensive.
The range of advice and assistance we provide includes:
Garden Stewardship, Planning, and Protection Measures
- Site assessments, master planning, and garden design
- Garden documentation, cultural landscape reports, and landmark status
- Maintenance plans and sustainability best practices
- Speaking out for gardens
- Conservation easements Read more
Organizational Development Assistance
- Assessments and feasibility studies
- Mission and vision statements
- Management structure for a nonprofit organization
Communications and Marketing Consultation
- Web presence
- Visitor experience
- Strategic relationship development
Resource Development Guidance
- Nonprofit financial practices
- Fundraising strategies
- Membership and volunteer cultivation
What do these individual services add up to? How can they make a difference? Read more in What We Do.
- Our Partners
- The Garden Conservancy has a small core of staff members and an extensive, enthusiastic network of partners. Many of our partners are garden creators who wish to preserve and share their work with future generations. We also work closely with community groups, large and small organizations and agencies, and hundreds of volunteers.
Together with our partners—garden owners and organizations ranging from small "friends" groups to large national organizations—and hundreds of individual volunteers, we have helped save or restore more than eighty of America’s outstanding gardens. We also foster interaction and enable information sharing among gardens, including through regional networks such as the Garden Conservancy Northwest Network.
See also our Preservation FAQs page for information on our criteria for taking on a preservation partner garden and for how to contact our Preservation department.
Frank Cabot, Garden Conservancy founder:
"EVERY PIECE OF GREEN WE SAVE IS IMPORTANT."
RUSSELL PAGE, THE EDUCATION OF A GARDENER:
"There are few gardens that can be left alone. A few years of neglect and only the skeleton of a garden is left."
RICHARD MOE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION;
“Important gardens are an essential part of our irreplaceable heritage — as much a part of the historic preservation landscape as buildings, birth sites, and battlefields.”
A few personal perspectives