Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset awarded botanic garden status

A park and art venue has become one of only eight UK sites to receive botanic garden accreditation.

Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset has been recognised for its gardens and plant conservation efforts.

The Dorchester-based beauty spot has become one of only 83 official botanical gardens in the world.

Monique Gudgeon, garden director for the site, said achieving the status was an "emotional moment" and "testament to years of hard work and dedication"

Places recognised by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) in the past include Cornwall's Eden Project.

To achieve the BGCI accreditation, gardens must submit evidence for 10 assessment areas including conservation activities, sustainability and public engagement.

Ms Gudgeon said: "I came across the accreditation in 2020 after being inspired by Samarès Manor in Jersey and intrigued by how it came to be classed as a botanic garden.

"I spent the next two-and-a-half years pulling together a detailed strategy plan, with the help of several experts, to work towards meeting the BGCI scheme's intricate assessment criteria."

The work saw the venue collaborate with experts in plant conservation to develop a collection of critically endangered conifers.

The park is home to various endangered species, including Picea koyamae, which originates in Japan and has less than 1,000 left growing in the wild.

Patricia Malcolm, head of membership and conservation services at BGCI, said: "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."

She added that the accreditation scheme exists to "motivate and empower gardens" to do more for plant conservation.

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