Introduction While data regarding the popularity of gardens as visitor attractions globally are not currently available, official figures for the UK (VisitBritain, 2006) suggest that in the early years of the twenty-first century gardens represent 7 per cent of the attractions section and account for 5 per cent of all visits. These figures are almost certainly an underestimate, as they do not recognize the attraction of gardens associated with historic properties, a category of attraction that accounts for 12 per cent of all visits, and nor do they recognize the visits to the many hundreds of private gardens that open to the public on an occasional basis. One estimate is that between 300 and 400 million visits are made to historic parks and
gardens in the UK each year (English Heritage, 2002). In France, there were 784 gardens open to visitors in 2002, an increase of more than 10 per cent over the five-year period. The number of visitors is also expanding; a survey of 405 French gardens revealed that in 2000, they had 25 million visitors compared to 18.5 million in 1999 and 11.5 million in 1998 (Comité Départemental du Tourisme de l’Yonne, 2003). Gardens are not purely attractions in Europe, they feature prominently in the promotion of countries in all parts of the world and a number of them are designated as World Heritage Sites (WHS). The award of WHS status to Suzhou Gardens in China and the Garden Kingdom of DessauWörlitz in Germany serves to demonstrate the universal value attributed to gardens as representative of different cultures.