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Forthcoming AGM Book Sale on Behalf of Folar:
a Note from the Chair

At the next AGM, as well as welcoming Willie Hartley- Russell, Bruce Ginsberg and Niamh Kendall to talk about how they created their beautiful gardens in extraordinary historic settings, we shall be selling books which were given by the Landscape Institute to FOLAR.  This article is to let our members know a little about FOLAR and its relationship with MERL (the Museum of English Rural Life) at the University of Reading.

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Some of the many rare books from the Landscape Institute Archives: Title pages (from left to right, Instruction pour les jardins 1697, The complete gard’ner 1704, Il giardiniero francese, 1723)

The Friends of the Landscape Archive at Reading, known as FOLAR, was formed in 2013, when the Landscape Institute gifted its library and collections of landscape architects’ drawings to MERL.  FOLAR is a not-for-profit organisation, entirely dependent on volunteers, members and others who support its activities. I am a member of FOLAR and hold the books, several of which cover the history of garden design or plantsmanship, which will be of interest to members.

From the outset, the FOLAR’s aim has been to support MERL, to promote the value of this unique archive to as wide an audience as possible, and to help deliver the charitable objectives of the Landscape Institute: ‘to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the benefit of the public by promoting the arts and sciences of Landscape Architecture…’ 

The Landscape archive at MERL is the biggest single collection of designed landscape papers in the UK. it comprises drawings, photos, membership records, correspondence, diaries, and more from a growing number of leading landscape practices. For more information see

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This garden at Shute House on the Wiltshire / Dorset border is one of the best known of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe’s private commissions and regarded by many as his finest work. He worked there for almost 25 years.

FOLAR organises annual symposiums, a series of talks with the Gardens Trust and this year hopes to begin an oral history project.  FOLAR is also consulted by county gardens trusts seeking further information about particular 20C designed landscapes.  

BGT fully supports the work of FOLAR and the symbiosis between our aims and purposes. MERL is, of course, in our area and offers a wonderful resource to students of parks and gardens history.

FOLAR can be contacted at: and email

A sample of the books for sale:

A thing in Disguise: A Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton

by Kate Colquhoun

The Garden Triumphant: A Victorian Legacy 

by David Stuart

Doves and Dovecotes 

by Peter and Jean Hansell

The Hookers of Kew Gardens 

by Mea Allen

Perfect Plant Perfect Place 

by Roy Lancaster

Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos 

by Graham Stuart Thomas

Come and browse on 11 October 2023. My thanks to FOLAR for providing some of the above text.

Bettina Kirkham Summer 2023 

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