Recording Gardens is a useful and practical guide to drawing an existing garden of historical significance (or a new garden that so far exists only in the gardener’s imagination). The book aims to explain the art of recording a garden in straightforward, step-by-step terms. It includes not only how to measure and draw the outline of an existing garden but also how to record its man-made and natural features. Further, it provides tips on noting the plants that are grown in the garden, soil type, orientation and other influences such as climate and features that lie over the garden wall.

Its intended audience includes anyone who wishes to record a ‘significant’ garden – those that have a historical value of their own – whether they are attached to historic buildings and houses or free-standing.

Garden recordings are vital snapshots in time: historic records of the layout, composition and character of a historic garden at a specific time. Often their greatest value is realised when a gardener wishes to restore or recreate lost features, or simply to record how a garden originally was, prior to making changes.

The Australian Garden History Society (AGHS) has undertaken a number of garden recordings for reasons of research, conservation and education. The society has published a range of garden recordings from around Australia – including gardens of differing eras, styles and types. Case studies of garden recordings, taken from the AGHS archives, are presented at the end of the book, as examples of what users of this book might emulate or achieve.

This edition of Recording gardens is based on the much-loved (and well-thumbed) 1998 edition Recording gardens: A guide to measuring and drawing gardens based on an Australian Garden History Society seminar by Richard Ratcliffe, published by the ACT, Monaro and Riverina Branch of the AGHS. Ratcliffe’s publication has been a valuable resource for the society.

Since the release of the previous edition, new technology has seen the development of online tools to make it easier to measure and draw garden sites – none of which, however, invalidate the tried and true measures! This book combines the old and new to furnish gardeners with a range of options to get the job done as they like.


  • Recording gardens
  • Gathering existing history
  • Making a photographic record
  • Recording a garden’s dimensions and features
  • Refining your drawing
  • Recording other features
  • Case studies
  • References
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