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Urban places and green spaces

Public parks and gardens have been a vital part of human culture for an astonishingly long time, emerging soon after the dawn of the first city-states over four thousand years ago.


John Ruskin, the Victorian writer, art critic, social thinker and philanthropist wrote- 


“The measure of any great civilisation is its cities, and a measure of a city’s greatness is to be found in the quality of its public spaces, its parks and squares”


We see the evidence of this when we visit great cities such as Barcelona, New York, Tokyo, London, Paris and Rome where such spaces are cherished. It is interesting to note his reference to measuring ‘civilisation’ and ‘greatness’ in this era of performance measurement. Yet even these great cities still have neglected and derelict spaces which indicate the difficulties of managing all their open space well.


Parks and open spaces are woven into the complex fabric and infrastructure of the urban landscape and are a colourful, vital, and inherent part our local culture and community life. Britain has a rich history and heritage of parks, gardens and green space, rooted in the local urban character, imparting a ‘sense of place’ and providing the stage for a wide range of activities that both reflect and define the local culture.


This website intends to celebrate and champion these places, to explain their many invaluable functions, to fight to halt their decline, and to understand why society generally fails to appreciate their importance.


“For the public park was never solely about trees, flowers or the sound of music on a summer’s afternoon.  They were and remain statements of how we see ourselves as a society and the environment in which we choose to live” 


Allan Ruff 'The Biography of Philips Park, Manchester' 

Key Links

Great Places and Spaces

Majorelle Gardens 1, Marrakesh
Stourhead, Wiltshire
Giverney, France
Leoni's Frontage, Lyme Park, Cheshire
Playin' it cool, New York  Central Park
Rock Garden, Ness Botanic Garden
Nye Stones, Lymm Dam, Cheshire
Villa d'Este
Piazza del Campo, Sienna
The Wizard, Alderly Edge_edited
Sophora japonica, Kyoto Botanic Gardens
Pin Mill Bodnant
Charles Barry's Italianate Terrace, Trentham Gardens
Yarrow Country Park Chorley
Bristol Clifton Suspension Bridge
Ravello, Italy_edited
Pitmedden, Aberdeeneshire
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Dumfries and Galloway 4
Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire
Parks are for Everyone, Municipal Gardens, Funchal Madeira
The Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto, Japan
The Park Bench, Stapleford Memorial Park, Can you spot it_
New Otani Hotel Tokyo
Temple Pagoda, Nara, Japan
V&A Courtyard, London
Heron, Nijo Castle Kyoto, Japan
Seasonal bedding, Waddeston Manor, Oxfordshire
Winter scene, Black Brook, Loughborough
Tomb of John Tredescant the Elden, Garden History Museum,  Lambeth, London
Winter Scene,, Brooksby Melton College
The art of mowing,Wisley
Grassland regime, Pope's Meadow, Bracknell
Flower Girl Park Funchal
Bandstand Queens Park, Loughborough
Botanic Garden Madeira
Fountain Villa D'Este Roma
Botanic Garden, Barcelona
Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan
Botanic Gardens, Kyoto, Japan
Durham Cathedral
Trevi Fountain Roma
Hampton Court
Decimus Burton and Richard Turner's Palm House Kew Gardens
Guardian Buddha, Ryoanji, Kyoto, Japan
Imperial War Museum North
Terrace of a Thousand Fountains Villa D'Este
Wierdstones, Alderley Edge, Cheshire
Park Steps, Bristol
Small Park, Sao Vincente, Madiera
St Nicholas Church Gardens Liverpool
Pre-Cambrian outcrop, The Outwoods, Charnwood Forest
Keukenhof, Netherlands
Pocket Park_Square, Manhatten, NY
Botanic Garden Madeira 2
Terrace of a Thousand Fountains Villa D'Este
Yarrow Country Park Chorley

Here are a number of links to important related sites in the green space sector:

The Parks Management Forum:


Professional Horticulture Magazine:


APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence):


The Heritage Lottery Fund:


The Parks Alliance:


Green Flag Awards:


The Parks Agency:


The Gardens Trust:


The National Federation of Parks & Green Spaces:


The Chartered Institute of Horticulture:


Noel Kingsbury:


Noels Garden Blog:




Horticulture Week:


Ken Warpole:

Parks and Gardens UK:

Project for Public Spaces:







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