National Trust

Soil Management in Historic Gardens

Webinar: 8th of February 2022
Practical workshop: 24th to 25th of May 2022, at Norges grønne fagskole – Vea, in Norway.

Soil management past and present needs to be taken more seriously throughout Europe. As the basis of everything we do in gardening, it is currently of huge international significance with soil degradation being a major environmental concern. It also holds the key to much of our horticultural heritage, literally underpinning the conservation of our historic gardens.

Two of the buildings at Vea Photo: Vea


An all day-winter webinar in Soil management will be arranged on the 8th February 2022. The Speakers on the webinar is the Swedish Archaeologist, Karin Lindeblad. The Norwegian and Swedish Gardeners and Teachers in horticulture for historical gardens: Marit Myrstad and Catarina Sjöberg. The Swedish Garden Antiquarian, researcher and author Maria Flinck. The gardener and conservation biologist at the hamlet of Äskhult Johan Gustavsson. The British No-dig expert Charles Dowding and the Hampton Court gardener Hilary Theaker.

Topics in the webinar:
Soil Archaeology: the answer lies in the soil
Cultivation methods: to dig or not to dig
Recipes for growing media: then and now

Rebecca and Jan in the garden Archaeology-session
Soil archaeology Photo: Anne Stine Solberg


A two days practical workshop was arranged in May 2022 hosted by Norges grønne fagskole – Vea in Norway. The garden plan of Olav L. Moen for Veas ornamental garden, from 1924, was used as a starting point.

Olav Moens garden plan. From the Historical Archive at NMBU.
Colored garden plan by Moen. Photo: Anne Stine Solberg

A visit to Helgøya was a part of the workshop – visiting a medieval lime stone quarry with two 1800’s lime ovens and Hovelsrud farm. A part of the visit was trying out different soil additives such as lime, biochar, compost, manures, wormeries and liquid feeds.

Hovelsrud farm
Apple-tree tunnel at Hovelsrud Farm Photo: Anne Stine Solberg
Making of Biochar by God Jord Photo: Anne Stine Solberg

Photos from one of the medieval lime stone quarries at Helgøya Photo: Anne Stine Solberg


Kate Nicoll is the workshop coordinator in the Craft Skills for Garden Conservation project, and in that way, more or less involved in all project activities.
Marit Myrstad is a Norwegian gardener and teacher in horticulture for historical gardens at Vea. She has worked within various fields of the industry since the 1970’s.
Johan is a Gardener and conservation biologist at Västkuststiftelsen which manages the Hamlet of Äskhult.
Hilary is a gardener at the Hampton Court in the UK. She is the Kitchen Garden Keeper and Vine Keeper at Hampton Court Palace.
Catarina Sjöberg is a senior lecturer in garden crafts, University of Gothenburg, Department of Conservation.
Maria Flinck is a Swedish garden antiquarian and researcher on garden history.
Karin Lindeblad is Garden Archaeologist at The Archaeologists, National Historical Museums in Stockholm.
Charles Dowding is a British No-dig expert who develops and explains time and labour saving-methods of gardening, high yelding and nature friendly

Overview project activities


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TopicWebinar dateWorkshop dates
– 25/05/2022
– 10/06/2022
– 31/08/2022
– 12/07/2023
– 06/09/2023
– 29/06/2023
– 11/09/2024
– 28/08/2024
– 05/06/2024

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Soil Management in Historic Gardens

Webinar date: 2022/02/08
Practical Workshop date: 2022/05/24


Soil Management in Historic Gardens

Webinar date: 2022/02/08
Practical Workshop date: 2022/05/24

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