Capability Brown


After reading Design with Nature, I felt quite curious about Capability Brown, who is like the empiricist doctor, found a land in ill health and brought it to good heart and to beauty. “His rejection of nature as crude, vile—the lapsed paradise—and the recognition of the land as the milieu of life, which could be made rich and fair, is the great volte face of the western world”—“On Values” from Design with Nature.

Lancelot Brown’s gardens designs lost nearly all of its formality and appearance of artifice. At Blenheim, he eliminated the great Le Notre style parterres laid out by Henry Wise and replaced it with an open expanse of lawn brought up to the walls of the house, near which he planted dark trees to frame the view of the landscape from the house. For some contemporizes such as Chamber, Brown’s gardens “differ very little from common fields, so closely is common nature copied in them.”


Brown created this effect of the appearance of unrestrained nature by planting a vast stretch of lawn punctuated by small clusters of trees or single trees irregularly placed in wavy belts. The land dips away from the house towards a winding lake and rise beyond to a distant woodland, completing the “landscape”.

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