Professor Gillian Parker


Department of Landscape Architecture

PhD Student

Full contact details

Professor Gillian Parker
Department of Landscape Architecture
Arts Tower
Western Bank
S10 2TN

Thesis title: National Level Influences or Failure to Adapt? The
Horticultural, Social and Economic History of the Backhouse
Nursery, York in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.       

The Backhouse Nursery of York was one of the most significant in England in the 19th century, attracting the approval of contemporaries both in Britain and abroad and, in 1889, being described as ‘known almost the world over’. Basic facts about the origins of the nursery are known, but despite its importance there is no detailed, published account of its history similar to those of other contemporary nurseries. National level influences, such as the Land Tax and the First World War, are assumed to have caused financial difficulties for the Backhouse nursery in the early 20th century, its insolvency in 1914, and eventual sale in 1924. The aim of the thesis is to explore the nursery’s history up to its bankruptcy in 1924 and compare its development and fortunes with those of similar nurseries, thereby testing the ‘national level influences’ hypothesis.


I have a BA in Psychology (Liverpool, 1973) and a PhD in Social Administration (Birmingham, 1985). I recently returned to post-graduate study and have a PGDip in Garden and Lanscape History (2020, Institute of Historical Research, University of London)

Professional activities and memberships

I am a Trustee of the Yorkshire Gardens Trust and its Company Secretary. I am also a member of its Research and Recording Group.