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Conservation of Historic Gardens in India: The Florence Charter on Historic Gardens Illustrated, Expanded and Critiqued

Priyaleen Singh, School of Planning and Architecture, Summer Fellow 2009/10

It has been an intellectually rewarding experience spending a summer at Dumbarton Oaks. I came here essentially looking for the space and time to write a manual on the Florence Charter on Historic Gardens and its applicability to the Indian context. While working on the topic, I was able to gather many analytic details of famous historic gardens in India, which I am adding as brief case studies in the larger narrative of the manual. Old maps of Delhi—which show all the gardens of the city (many of which have been lost to mindless urbanization), and which Linda Lott so promptly discovered for me in the Rare Book Collection—are additional pieces of valuable information I shall be using. Visiting the National Parks Service office and accessing many of their publications in the Dumbarton Oaks Library added significantly to my understanding of the management of historic gardens. Walking around the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks itself has helped add nuances to the text of the manual, which focuses on both the technical aspects of conservation as well as the means for giving historic gardens a new lease on life by connecting them seamlessly with the contemporary world—as Dumbarton Oaks does so well.

In addition to the progress in my writing, I am taking back a treasure trove of material that is difficult to find in India. The magic of HOLLIS, unraveled so patiently by Sheila Klos, has opened up for me many new fields of interest and research in the subject of landscape design in India. I hope I will be able to explore all these topics more fully in the future.

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