In 1983 there was great concern about overdevelopment in the county and as a result in 1984 the Hampshire Gardens Trust was created with Hampshire being the first county to create such a group. The work of the groups is to conserve and protect historic gardens and although based at Jermyn’s House they liaise closely with the County Planning Department.
In 1985 the groups started work on creating Queen Eleanor’s garden behind the Great Hall in Winchester. The Garden was designed by Sylvia Landsberg author of The Medieval Garden and an expert on that subject. The garden includes a Glastonbury Thorn Tree, a tunnel arbour, a falcon statue, a columnar fountain and a pentice that would have been a cooking area.
Another project undertaken was the restoration of the gardens at Townhill Park, now the Gregg School, which were designed by Gertrude Jekyll. This garden includes a pool and raised pergola and is maintained by a group of volunteers but is open to the public.
One property owned by the Trust is the Petersfield Physic Garden and this green oasis in the middle of town is open to the public free of charge. The garden is created in the 17th century style with geometric shapes. The garden includes herb beds, a topiary walk, a knot garden and an informal orchard.
Hyde Abbey Gardens in Winchester was created in 2003 in the spot considered to be the burial place of King Alfred and family. There is an etched glass screen provided by the Trust and holly trees planted to mark the places where the Abbey columns once stood.
A major project undertaken by the Trust was at North Stoneham where the whole area had been owned by the Fleming family prior to the first world war. Working closely with the local council the gardens designed by Capability Brown were restored as was the memorial built by the Fleming family in remembrance of their son killed in the war. Although there has been much building in the area the gardens are now protected and have free public access.
The Trust now have 680 sites deserving of protection in Hampshire and in 2020 started a scheme working with schools to educate children in the necessity of plants and gardens. The Trust pays for a number of teachers to work with schools and arrange visits to gardens of interest.