The name Lancelot 'Capability' Brown has become synonymous with the eighteenth-century English landscape garden: between 1751 and 1783 his consultancy handled over 170 major commissions. Ruthlessly efficient, he could stake out the 'capabilities' of a particular terrain within an hour on horseback. Rising to the position of Master Gardener to George III, his trademark features included bald lawns, clumped trees, undulating lakes and enclosing belts of woodland on the estate's perimeter. With this standard park formula Brown and his followers held the commercial monopoly on garden design well into the following century, resisting the more rugged topography advocated by Richard Payne Knight's new generation of Romantics.
About the Author
Laura Mayer is studying for a PhD in eighteenth-century gardens at the university of Bristol under the supervision of Professor Timothy Mowl. She won the 2010 Garden History Society essay prize and is working, with Timothy Mowl, on The Historic Gardens of England: Northumberland.
“With its many reproductions of line engravings and color photographs, this work is equivalent to many larger printed tomes on English garden history. Capability Brown (1716–83) took the English landscape and turned it into his ideal: large lawns, ponds, and forests in the distance. Nature was simplified in his hands. He changed the course of British estate landscaping and had enormous influence in the United States and elsewhere. Take this little book on your next British trip.” —Adele Kleine, Library volunteer and garden writer, Chicago Botanic Garden