Historic gardens are protected as cultural heritage places in most of the world‘s legislation. But all this legislation, often only recently implemented, is however obsolete in practice in many cases, at times because of lack of knowledge, in other more regrettable cases for unclear interests (or very clear ones, however you like to understand it), to government administrations that are accustomed to consider a historic garden as just any green space, but not as heritage, which it is in reality even from a legal point of view.
In this manner every city suburb or area has at its disposal theoretically speaking its corresponding green space as donation in particular town plans or within urban development. This did not in practice come into being because of interests easy to guess and the communities see themselves as deprived of areas for expansion, which they need and to which they have a right.
The gardens within city centres, and mostly those are in the historic centre, have been regarded as green spaces, more or less as a public park. This equivocal policy has not made the most of the artistic or cultural values of the gardens and this point of departure presents the most significant risk to an appropriate use. It is very difficult to make the community respect and to safeguard of course a garden, if they have not been taught to respect or value. They will hardly understand why they are not allowed to play football, walk on the grass, or must not install advertisements.
For this reason it is extremely important to develop an awareness beginning within the administration itself that those gardens in being "special" and different also need treatment that is different and most careful, special techniques, a specialised workforce, for its fragile and characteristic features. One must have a special ordinance and conditions for its use, and in many cases opening and closing hours. The public must understand and accept the importance of the garden, which is put at their disposal. Because of this, one of our obligations is to inform them about the historic value and its history with maps, flyers and guides etc, that they may learn to use and respect gardens and to convert them into a major collaborator in their conservation and maintenance.
The problems and
the opposition which occurs at closures to the public, for example of the
Boboli gardens in Florence is now accepted and admitted by the public as an
exemplar of this situation. Community response to the situation of the
degradation and deterioration of Central Park in
ICOMOS, the NGO that is official advisor to UNESCO in these matters, it was
endorsed at the ICOMOS General Assembly in
However, and just as our Charter admits, the time and those problems that come up during the implementation of a restoration project, show themselves as visible traces and everyday problems which it is necessary to confront.
In principle one has to state that there is no single or unique category of historic or artistic garden, without variations, in the same manner that succeeds for built heritage and which has distinct levels of classification and often distinct levels of protection.
Appropriate restoration is the safest way to its protection and suitable use. Restoration is always a creative activity which confronts one every day with a new and different problem to solve and which only sensitivity, tact and technical expertise allow solutions to be discovered and for a balance to be found between pure conservation of the historical essence of the garden, which make it unique and different from others, and the necessities of everyday use.
The professional development for specialised technicians who are able to adequately undertake the work and avoid carrying out inappropriate conservation or otherwise turning the garden into a museum, is important for historic gardens. The Charter of Florence defines the historic garden as "living heritage". "Life" as much as the botanical elements of which is it composed, like its cycle of evolution - birth, growth, maturity, death - is an integral part of a garden itself. A garden is essentially changing at every moment, being different every second, comparable to a symphony in inseparable time and space, and founded in an expression of total harmony.
In a garden, time is alive and eternal. The present is a constant of evolution, a vanishing coming and going. Time, in a creative continuum, values the images of here and now. From this point of view the danger is clear basing rehabilitation only on historical or archaeological documentation which support sentiment and emotion.
The analysis of its basic layout and design is in short that which must give us the key and the point of departure for the restoration of a garden. Whilst the value of antiquity and of time period is an added value we do not have to fall into the tendency to simply consider ruins, the passing of time and even deterioration as generators of beauty - as did Ruskin. This could be counter-productive for a real garden, which given it is beautiful in itself does not need patina and other covers, which in most cases can be considered as solely uniquely a lack of care, ignorance, and abandoned.
the inappropriate use of parks and gardens are the most significant risks that
their layout suffer.