A conservation easement is a tool, 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.

The Garden Conservancy can assist gardens that are considering a conservation easement in a variety of ways.      

  • We will advise owners, when requested, on the pros and cons of establishing a conservation easement and how best to determine appropriate restrictions to protect conservation values.
  • We will review existing funding to insure adequate resources for monitoring the easement and taking appropriate action to defend the terms of the easement in the event of a violation.  
  • We will recommend resources for finding lawyers and accountants to create easements and work with those professionals to create easements.
  • We will monitor approximately every 12 to 15 months, and report to the landowner upon request and/or if there is a violation.

Examples of our current conservation easements
The Garden Conservancy created the first conservation easement specifically for a garden. Easements can be created to protect either private and public gardens.

Below are examples of some of the easements we currently hold on public gardens:

The John Fairey Garden
Hempstead, Texas

In late January 2016, John Fairey transferred ownership of the garden to the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation, which for years has maintained and managed the gardens on his behalf for public enjoyment as well as horticultural research and education programs. In connection with this transfer, the Garden Conservancy agreed to accept and hold a conservation easement on the garden in orderto help ensure that the garden and its more than 3,000 species of rare and endangered plants will be protected in perpetuity. In late November 2016, as they continue to do annually, our preservation team, Pamela Governale and Anne Welles, visited Peckerwood--now known as the John Fairey Garden--to monitor the easement.

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.

Elizabeth Lawrence Garden
Charlotte, North Carolina

In 2008, the Wing Haven Foundation purchased the house and garden of Elizabeth Lawrence (1904–1985), a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We acquired a conservation easement over the property when this purchase occurred. 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. 

If you're interested in considering a conservation easement...

For more information, please contact Preservation@gardenconservancy.org