A Bristol University academic has won £314,411 to undertake what must be one of the most pleasant research endeavours in any academic field.
Having visited more than 450 historic gardens in Gloucestershire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Cornwall and Worcestershire, Timothy Mowl has now been funded by the Leverhulme Trust to document all the historically significant gardens of England.
He first recognised the need for a Pevsner-style analysis of England's historic gardens and landscapes six years ago while writing a course book for the university's garden history MA students.
But although the Pevsner architectural guides, which were begun in the 1950s by the great architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, were famous for their detail, they simply listed architectural facts and forsook personal stories and chronology.
"Pevsner was very much my bible as an architectural historian," Dr Mowl said, "but the garden books are rather different. They are not dry gazetteers - they contain a great deal of information on the owners and designers of the gardens."
The project, which aims to survey more than 3,000 historic gardens, county by county, will build on the volumes already completed by Dr Mowl and will allow him to research and write ten more books, bringing the total in the series up to 16 over the next five years.
"We include modern gardens as well, as these will be the historical gardens of the future," Dr Mowl said.
He said the grant will give young scholars the chance to work as consultants to the project and to serve as joint authors of the books.
The project will be conducted under the aegis of the university's recently established Institute of Garden and Landscape History.