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20th June 2018
Edinburgh World Heritage
After some 30 years in the making, this week marks the release of The Care & Conservation of Shared Georgian Gardens, John Byrom’s handbook on maintaining some of the most treasured green spaces in Edinburgh that are also an important part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The book has been published by The Word Bank, a community publishing collective run by Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, in association with Edinburgh World Heritage. It provides detailed guidance on the long term management and maintenance of Edinburgh’s 47 circus, square, crescent and informal grid-edge gardens, many of which are cared for by garden committees comprised of local residents. The research is also relevant to other Georgian towns and cities.
These gardens contribute aesthetically to the ‘outstanding universal value’ of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, according to its UNESCO inscription. They are ‘designed to take full advantage of the topography, while forming an extensive system of private and public open spaces.’
Author John Byrom is a landscape architect and former Director of the Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. In the 1960s, John was commissioned to appraise the condition of Edinburgh’s New Town gardens by the Scottish Civic Trust and was part of the survey which led to the creation of the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee. The work also became the basis of his late wife, Connie Byrom’s book The Edinburgh New Town Gardens (Birlinn, 1995).
John was subsequently commissioned by Edinburgh World Heritage to produce a handbook in response to a perceived need for professional advice on the appropriate maintenance and replanting of the gardens. The project was overseen by a steering group chaired by Professor David Ingram, former Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
This is the first time this decades-long research will be available in perpetuity in the public domain.
“Collectively, these 47 gardens really do make a striking visual contribution to the design of Edinburgh’s city centre, and particularly its Georgian characteristics,” said John. “They also form a very important component of the World Heritage Site, and bearing in mind their conservation, design, and natural elements, we thought it cogent to have some sort of record that committees can use, just to keep an eye on the cumulative changes that are taking place in these areas.”
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “This book makes a vital contribution to the care and conservation of Georgian gardens in Edinburgh, across the UK – London, Brighton, Bath – and further afield. These gardens are an essential part of the World Heritage Site, designed into the urban fabric and creating a sense of rus in urbe – the countryside in the town. We are delighted that it has finally been published and wish to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this happen.”
Sean Bradley of The Word Bank said: “John Byrom’s book is an important contribution to the future management of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site and the wider city. More than that, it demonstrates how critical green spaces are to a living city. City planners everywhere take note.”
The book can be purchased directly from The Word Bank. Order your copy here.