World Gardens are a major theme at this year’s show with six gardens reflecting their particular part of the globe and bringing a flavour of why these are popular travel destinations.
The Oregon Garden, The Charleston Garden andThe Austin Garden bring these differing areas very much to life while Journey Latin America’s Inca Garden celebrates the Incas and evokes the excitement Hiram Bingham must have felt in 1911 on discovering the lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Europe is celebrated in The Route of the Camellia Garden a route which took pilgrims through Galicia on their way to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela. The last historic garden is the ‘Le Clos d’Hastings’ – 1066 Country Medieval Garden.
Designed by Stephane Marie, this garden which marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings is a joint collaboration between the Parks and Gardens of Normandy and the District of Hastings. It consists of two sections one recalling medieval meadows with barley, flax, marguerites and wildflowers while the other more densely planted section is a riot of plants from around the world which both the Normans and English enjoy today, united by their shared love of botany and gardening.
In his thoughtful introduction Prince Charles reminds us that Brown was made Chief Master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace by George III and that he restructured the grounds of Buckingham House ‘the foundations of which survive today as the gardens of Buckingham Palace’.
For this really enjoyable celebration of ‘Capability’ Brown’s genius the accomplished artist Tim Scott Bolton visited and recorded nearly a third of the gardens Brown is known to have been involved with from the north of England to the south. The text is also enriched by Scott Bolton’s observations on the thoughts and processes behind his pictures.
I shall leave you with this thought:
“A contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown’s once said to him, ‘I very earnestly wish I may die before you, Mr Brown.’
‘Why so?’ he replied.
‘Because I would like to see Heaven before you have improved it.’”
This year marks the the 300th anniversary of the birth of the truly great English gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and it is being marked by many events in the wonderful landscapes he created for his patrons around the country. It is fitting for me to begin my occasional coverage with Compton Verney where an important restoration project is taking place, thanks to a £2.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.
Brown would say to prospective clients when viewing their estates that the place had “capabilities” – thus earning his soubriquet. By moving hills, damming rivers to create lakes, and planting trees he literally remade the gardens into what is now celebrated as the quintessential idyllic English landscape. Among the features Brown introduced at Compton Verney were the ice house and a new chapel to replace the old one he had pulled down as it spoilt the view.