Tag Archive: landscape


Lancelot Brown by Nathanial Dance, photo by dcoetzee

Lancelot Brown by Nathanial Dance, photo by dcoetzee

Throughout 2016 the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown will be marked with a festival of events celebrating his life, work and legacy – 300 years on from his birth.

Brown’s rich legacy of work ranges form Highclere Castle, the fictional home of ‘Downton Abbey’ to the well-known estates of Chatsworth, Blenheim and Stowe, to hidden gems such as Milton Abbey, Weston Park and Compton Verney. In 2016, there will be a range of events for everyone to enjoy – from the most ardent of fans, to those that know nothing of his work but simply enjoy stunning landscapes.

Some highlights include the opportunity to tour the grounds of Belvoir Castle, where a lost Brown design was recently rediscovered and implemented; his first and last known commissions; his longest commission; and some of his crowning achievements. The Capability Brown Festival 2016 has been funded by a £911,100 grant from the Heritage lottery Fund, and is managed by The Landscape Institute. Festival director Ceryl Evans said:

‘Brown’s work was groundbreaking. He blended art and engineering, and moved mountains of earth and villages, to create beautiful naturalistic landscapes which are still much admired today, 300 years after his birth.’

Brown's original plan for Blenheim

Brown’s original plan for Blenheim

A prolific landscape architect, Brown is associated with more than 250 sites across England and Wales, with many more parks and gardens around the world inspired by his work.

Audley End, Essex

Audley End, Essex

Capability Brown is a name well-known in gardening and landscaping circles, but among the general public his work and influence is less well-known. The Festival aims to address that gap as many of our best loved country houses are set as jewels in the wonderful landscapes he created, but often we recognise them for their architecture but sideline what makes them even more splendid –  their amazingly landscaped and seemingly natural settings.

Three centuries after Brown’s birth, the Festival presents a unique opportunity to take a fresh look at how the father of landscape architecture shaped the nation’s countryside.

Blenheim Palace Grand Bridge by Boddah at English Wikipedia

Blenheim Palace Grand Bridge by Boddah at English Wikipedia

Source: Landscape and Amenity Magazine, December 2015

Further information:

The Capability Brown Festival

Wikipedia- Capability Brown

Old School Gardener

 

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On a recent wet day in Cambridge, visiting our daughter, we went along to the Fitzwilliam Museum, really a mini ‘British Museum’ with its extensive collections of antiquities and art. There was a very interesting exhibition on titled ‘Watercolour- Elements of Nature’. This features rarely exhibited works highlighting the extraordinary versatility of watercolour, showing how it was used from the Middle Ages onwards to illuminate manuscripts, paint delicate likenesses, accurately record botanical detail and to capture fleeting moments of nature. Here are a few images I took before being told that photography wasn’t allowed…

Old School Gardener

Trees, trees, trees…

WP_20150609_13_44_59_ProI had an interesting trip to a Tree Nursery on Tuesday.

Barcham Trees, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, grow trees on an ‘industrial’ scale. They also have in depth knowledge about development and after care. I was impressed with the scale of trees on offer, and which- because they are container grown- can be big enough to provide instant impact in landscape and garden design schemes.

Big trees require big carriers...

Big trees require big carriers…

I was attending a seminar on ‘Garden Design as Landscape Painting’ (I’ll do a further report on this shortly), and as part of the day we had an informative tour of the nursery with a lively guide, Ellen.

The day was cool, with a brisk north-easterly wind sweeping across this massive site, but we made good progress and were told lots of interesting stuff about the different varieties of tree on offer, saw some fascinating examples of pleaching and surveyed some 120,000 trees (we didn’t get to see a further 100,000 younger examples in the fields down the road).

The visit reminded me of my series of articles on Garden Trees, making use of Barcham’s very useful catalogue and online resources- I must get on with this ‘A-Z’ which has a way to go before It’s finished. So, expect ‘N is for…’ in a week or two…

Further information: Barcham Trees Website

Old School Gardener

 

WP_20150515_11_05_33_ProOn our way home from Sussex last week, we manged to call in on two other National Trust properties. The first was Emmetts Garden, near Sevenoaks, Kent.

Though situated in a commanding hillside location, the garden is tucked away a bit, but we eventually found it after some tortuous lanes and slippery hill climbs! Our stay was short,but the garden didn’t disappoint- masses of spring interest, including a very attractive rockery with plenty of alpines on display. The Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Bluebells were also looking superb in the bright sunshine.

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Wikipedia describes the gardens:

‘Emmetts Garden was open farmland until 1860 when the present house was built. The name ’emmett’ is a local word for ant and refers to the giant anthills that covered the area until the 1950s. The house and land was purchased in 1890 by Frederic Lubbock, a banker and passionate plantsman. Lubbock’s elder brother was John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, coincidentally a world expert on ants, which may have influenced his decision to purchase the property.

The gardens were initially laid out between 1893 and 1895 under the influence of Lubbock’s friend William Robinson in the fashionable Edwardian style popularised by Gertrude Jekyll. The shrub garden was added later in 1900-1908.

After Lubbock’s death (1927), the estate was acquired by an American geologist Charles Watson Boise. He made various alterations to both house and garden but retained the original character of the gardens…

The garden, which covers an area of about six acres (approximately 2.5 hectares), occupies a commanding site on a 600-foot (180 m) sandstone ridge, overlooking the Weald. One of the highest points in Kent, it offers expansive views towards the North Downs.

It is mainly planted with trees and shrubs in the form of an arboretum; a magnificent 100-foot (30 m) Wellingtonia fortunately survived the Great Storm. There is also a rose garden located next to the Victorian house to which the gardens once belonged.’

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

WP_20150512_14_16_43_ProAnother trip out and another chance to visit some interesting and inspiring gardens last week. We travelled to see friends in Sussex and our lunch time stop was Knole near Sevenoaks, Kent, a large estate still owned by the Sackville family (of Vita fame) and part run by the National Trust. We were very lucky because we tipped up on a Tuesday, when the private Sackville gardens are open to the public, and we availed ourselves of a very engaging guided tour…

Beginning in the classical orangery, the tour wound its way around a fascinating garden, with some highlights to savour; the longest Wisteria on a wall outside China; the longest ‘Green Alley’ circumnavigating the walls of the garden; a champion fastigiate Oak tree and some wonderful azaleas with eye popping colour.

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The house- a splendid mix of architectural styles- is undergoing some major alterations, but the grounds and gardens are breathtaking. Wikipedia describes the estate:

‘a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) park, within which the house is situated. Knole is one of England’s largest houses, the National Trust attribute a possibility of its having at some point been a calendar house which had 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. Its grade I listing reflects its mix of Elizabethan to late Stuart structures, particularly in the case of the central façade and state rooms. The surrounding deer park has also survived with little having changed in the 400 years since 1600 although its formerly dense woodland has not fully recovered from the loss of over 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987….

As a walled garden, Knole’s is very large, at 26 acres (11 ha) (30 including the ‘footprint’ of the house) and as such is large enough to have the very unusual — and essentially medieval feature of a smaller walled garden inside itself (Hortus Conclusus). It contains many other features from earlier ages which have been wiped away in most country-house gardens: like the house, various landscapers have been employed to elaborate the design of its large gardens with distinctive features. These features include clair-voies, a patte d’oie, two avenues, and bosquet hedges.

WP_20150512_14_46_18_Pro Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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On a trip north last week, we managed to pack in three very interesting National Trust properties to and from our destination in the Lake District. The first was Kedleston Hall, the 18th century pile of the Curzons, an old Norman family who became prominent Tories in later times and built this magnificent home as a power statement to rival that developed by their Derbyshire Whig rivals, the Cavendish family, at Chatsworth.

WP_20150505_11_56_22_ProWe thought the front of the house reminiscent of Norfolk’s Holkham Hall, and indeed in the very helpful introductory talk we learned it had been designed by the same architects in Palladian style. However, the similarities started to dilute once we were inside, as the then Lord Curzon decided to follow the emerging design fashion of Neo Classical, so the house is an interesting- and successful – blend of the two styles.

The gardens- really more of a bold, sweeping landscape plus some slightly more human scale ‘pleasure grounds’- fit the classical style of the house and it was a lovely experience strolling around these before we had our lunch. Wikipedia describes the gardens and grounds:

‘The gardens and grounds, as they appear today, are largely the concept of Robert Adam. Adam was asked by Nathaniel Curzon in 1758 to “take in hand the deer park and pleasure grounds”. The landscape gardener William Emes had begun work at Kedleston in 1756, and he continued in Curzon’s employ until 1760; however, it was Adam who was the guiding influence. It was during this period that the former gardens designed by Charles Bridgeman were swept away in favour of a more natural-looking landscape. Bridgeman’s canals and geometric ponds were metamorphosed into serpentine lakes.

 Adam designed numerous temples and follies, many of which were never built. Those that were include the North lodge (which takes the form of a triumphal arch), the entrance lodges in the village, a bridge, cascade and the Fishing Room. The Fishing Room is one of the most noticeable of the park’s buildings. In the neoclassical style it is sited on the edge of the upper lake and contains a cold bath and boat house below. Some of Adam’s unexecuted design for follies in the park rivalled in grandeur the house itself. A “View Tower” designed in 1760 – 84 feet high and 50 feet wide on five floors, surmounted by a saucer dome flanked by the smaller domes of flanking towers — would have been a small neoclassical palace itself. Adam planned to transform even mundane utilitarian buildings into architectural wonders. A design for a pheasant house (a platform to provide a vantage point for the game shooting) became a domed temple, the roofs of its classical porticos providing the necessary platforms; this plan too was never completed. Amongst the statuary in the grounds is a Medici lion sculpture carved by Joseph Wilton on a pedestal designed by Samuel Wyatt, from around 1760-1770.

In the 1770s George Richardson designed the hexagonal summerhouse, and in 1800 the orangery. The Long Walk was laid out in 1760 and planted with flowering shrubs and ornamental trees. In 1763 it was reported that Lord Scarsdale had given his gardener a seed from rare and scarce Italian shrub, the “Rodo Dendrone” (sic).

The gardens and grounds today, over two hundred years later, remain mostly unaltered. Parts of the estate are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, primarily because of the “rich and diverse deadwood invertebrate fauna” inhabiting its ancient trees.’

 

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Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

Thyme we thought differently about roadsides?
Old School Gardener

swales long fellow creek la network

Swales used to alleviate surface water flooding at Long Fellow Creek, via LA Network

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

‘Suddenly now we see cornfields white,

Ready for harvest, while the summer sun

Shines down with welcome warmth, its brilliant light

Making the heat-haze dance, as one by one

The humming harvesters crawl ‘cross the fields,

And once again good grain the good earth yields.

The roads are busy with the hurrying horde

Of folks on holiday; the heavens are clear

And blue, so very blue, with their reward

For those who have the time to stand and stare.

For there young swallows mount into the sky,

And thistledown upon the breeze dreams by.

Grasshoppers chirr, and where the creeper clings

A peacock butterfly outspreads its wings.’

John (Jack) Kett from ‘A late lark Singing’ (Minerva Press 1997)

See a year’s worth of Norfolk in Poetry by clicking on the category on the right

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houses from woven  trees green renaissance

Houses woven from trees!

Old School Gardener

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