Clover improves the mix

Clover improves the mix

That marvelous magus of mystery and magic, Capability Brown, added white clover to his grass seed when making good after earthworking, as at Longleat and Stowe in the 1750’s, at Chatsworth in 1763, at Sandbeck in 1774, at Milton Abbey in 1776 and, very likely, whenever called upon to resow grassland.

In fact the benefits of clover had been promoted before the Glorious Revolution by Captain Yarranton and his ilk, and among great estates Wakefield Lodge was already buying clover by the ton in the 1730s.

I make the point because a number of correspondents, Professor H and Dr W of South Yorkshire, with Mrs E of Exeter among them, have speculated on the differences that there may have been between parkland grass and ordinary pasture. It matters to me that we should accept that there was no distinction between the methods used for sowing a sward in parkland, and sowing it on farmland, whether as permanent grassland or as a lay, save in the care taken.

So for Arthur Young the management of grass in parkland was a model for farmers to aspire to, adding in warning that ‘before we persuade farmers to keep their fields like lawns, we must make them give up their slovenliness’. So he warmly commended the careful levelling and preparation of the land carried out at Syon Hill and Raby Castle. At Painshill, in the fast lane of garden design, Charles Hamilton’s method for improving his grassland was unhesitatingly admired as good agricultural practice by Samuel Richardson.

Enough said I think.