It’s the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, known as ‘England’s Greatest Gardener,’ so why not celebrate by visiting his gardens in Derbyshire?
He’s best known for his beautiful gardens on a grand scale; an artful recreation of idyllic countryside. Brown got his name by telling his landowning clients that their gardens had great “capability”. He believed that design and practicality went hand in hand. His parklands not only promised privacy, and grounds for hunting, but also space for architectural follies to demonstrate the owners immense wealth and status.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was born in 1716 and began his career as a gardener at Kirkharle. Once he learnt his trade he became an independent designer and contractor, and over time his workforce grew and the demand for his gardening expertise increased. As a result of his unique ability to see the “capabilities” of an entire landscape Brown became a household name.
His abundant skills as an artist, an engineer and a formidable business man brought fame and fortune and in 1764 Capability became a Royal Garden at Hampton Court and Kew Gardens in London. In his lifetime it’s thought that he designed and transformed over 250 gardens across the UK, changing the face of the English countryside. His legacy is still admired across the world today.
The Capability Brown Festival
The festival is a celebration of Capability Brown’s work, with a number of events and exhibitions. The festival will open up a number of Brown’s sites for all audiences to learn about his work and enjoy the sites he envisioned. Brown’s style derived from the two practical principles of comfort and elegance. On the one hand, there was a determination that everything should work, and that a landscape should provide for every need of the great house. On the other, his landscapes had to look elegant.
Find out more on the Capability Brown website.
Visit Capabilities’ Legendary Gardens in Derbyshire
In the 1760s Capability Brown worked at Chatsworth House to modernise the grounds by re-developing the landscape, moving earth, planting trees and drainage. Capability and his foreman Michael Millican allowed the landscape to look natural by creating rolling green slopes up to the House, whilst at the same time increasing the level of capability the land.
From the famous mirroring of Chatsworth House in the lake’s reflection, to the rolling hills and carefully placed trees Brown’s garden design is still to be admired at Chatsworth House today. Without his pioneering work, Chatsworth Gardens and estate would not be the same today.
Elvaston Castle Country Park in Derby
If you fancy the drive or are heading towards Derby, why not stop off at Elvaston Castle to see Brown’s historic work here. With 361 acres of open land to discover, and a wildlife area, it’s the perfect spot for a summer picnic and a great day out with the family.
Capability Brown has inspired landscapers and gardeners since his pioneering work in the 18th Century. If you want to find a garden by Capability Brown near you, here’s an interactive map of the UK. If you’re planning a trip to the Peak District or planning a stay at Hoe Grange, don’t miss out on the Capability Brown festival.