Sculpture by the Lakes gains botanic garden accreditation

Dorset’s sculpture park and art venue have been granted official Botanic Garden Status for the gardens and plant conservation efforts, an accreditation held by only 83 gardens in the world.

Sculpture by the Lakes

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’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.

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.’