Seed for Thought 1949
Charles Franklin Kettering
Landscape gardening was undergoing a major change from rigid, tightly hedged formality to a more natural look inspired by popular landscape painters of the day.
The formal Italian Garden
at Blenheim Palace
A 'ha ha' at Blenheim Palace gardens
Capability Brown, a largely self-taught landscape designer, established his own business in 1751. His timing could not have been better as his designs were greatly appealing to the wealthy English aristocracy who could afford a secluded, peaceful, world.
Brown's adage was ' a good plan, good execution, a perfect knowledge of the country and the objects in it, whether natural or artificial, hiding what is disagreeable, highlighting what is beautiful.'
Brown's formula was one of turf smoothing away from the house, clumps of trees laid out naturally, and a tranquil lake formed by damming streams. Nothing got in his way. In his design at Blenheim Palace, Brown partially submerged a bridge to form his lake.
Critics claimed that Brown's work lacked texture, color contrast, visual excitement, and was bland and repetitive. Yet, the test of time has shown that Brown's style is timeless and provides a natural backbone for landscape gardeners to continue to enhance his work.
An excellent designer cannot pretend that nature made the garden, but must interpret the design to fit the surroundings and architecture. Capability Brown fits the description. The scope of his work was massive, a result of the deep purses of his clients. Although most of us cannot reproduce a landscape design on such a scale, from Capability Brown we can see the art of an enduring landscape garden from a true visionary.