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Aug 29, 2023

Sculpture by the Lakes becomes one of only eight gardens in UK to achieve prestigious botanic garden accreditation

Dorset’s sculpture park and art venue, Sculpture by the Lakes, has been recognised for its exceptional quality gardens and plant conservation efforts by achieving official Botanic Garden Status – an accreditation held by only 83 gardens in the world.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) recognises gardens which conform to the highest international standards and make significant contributions to plant conservation. Sculpture by the Lakes joins just seven other gardens across the country which hold the accreditation, including The Eden Project and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Garden Director at Sculpture by the Lakes, Monique Gudgeon, said: “This accreditation is testament to years of hard work and dedication by our team, and I’m so proud that we’re officially the only garden in Dorset – and 8th in the UK – to achieve such a renowned mark of status.

“I came across the accreditation in 2020 after being inspired by Samarès Manor in Jersey and intrigued by how it came to be classed as a botanic garden. I spent the next two and a half years pulling together a detailed strategy plan, with the help of several experts, to work towards meeting the BGCI scheme’s intricate assessment criteria.

“I’m incredibly grateful to my committee of specialists, including Tony Kirkham MBE, ex-Head of Arboretum at Kew Gardens; Borde Hill Gardens Head of Horticulture Harry Baldwin; and consultant dendrologist Tom Christian, one of the UK’s leading experts on conifers.”

To achieve the BGCI accreditation, gardens need to submit evidence for 10 separate assessment areas including conservation activities, sustainability, and public engagement.

Sculpture by the Lakes has been working with global leaders in plant conservation to develop a comprehensive collection of critically endangered conifers for research, visitor education and enjoyment. Among its species is Picea koyamae, which originates in Japan and has less than 1,000 left growing in the wild due to its vulnerability to multiple threats including typhoons, fire, and climate change. The sculpture park is also home to a grove of Coast Redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens, originating in northwest USA and under threat from increased urbanisation and logging.

Sculpture by the Lakes has also demonstrated its commitment to sustainability through its recycling and composting initiatives. Examples include its reuse of fallen wood for dead hedges to provide wildlife shelter and composting any viable materials to support growth in its kitchen garden.

Monique Gudgeon continued: “Achieving the accreditation was an emotional moment for me, as it recognises many years of hard work in making our gardens the best they could be. The credentials we hold prove that Sculpture by the Lakes serves its purpose as a true asset to nature and the environment.”

Patricia Malcolm, Head of Membership and Conservation Services at BGCI, added: “Our accreditation scheme exists to motivate and empower gardens, large or small, to do more for plant conservation and increase their impact on visitors. It’s fantastic to see Sculpture by the Lakes lead by example and use the structure of the accreditation scheme to elevate its plant conservation efforts.”

In-keeping with its commitment to engaging the public in celebrating and protecting the natural world, Sculpture by the Lakes will host a special event dedicated to trees from 27th September – 28th October. ARBOR: A Month of Trees will feature exclusive artwork, workshops, and talks from world famous nature specialists, including Strategy Committee Chairman Tony Kirkham, and artists. More information can be found here: https://www.sculpturebythelakes.co.uk/events/.

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