Arising from certain lucubrations last evening, the Brown Advisor recognises that overmuch time has been devoted to the very specific questions of a very insistent few. The Advisor therefore dedicates the next notes to continuing our account of particular plants and their place in landscape (notes 92-95, 100, 107, 110, 111, 137, 146, et al.).
Mr W of Ludlow has asked why there are not more fruit trees in Capability Brown’s parkland, and apples make a fine starting point for our inquiry.
Nathaniel Kent followed up on Brown’s work at Wilton for example, and suggested without much ado the planting of apples in the parkland. On the face of it, apples are an excellent parkland plant, relatively small, useful in clumps and thickets, offering food in autumn and the early part of winter. Their value was apparent to Evelyn and Switzer, but we may only rarely find them because they are relatively short-lived (120 years would be a good term), they tend to be grafted and hence to revert, and the sweetness of their bark makes them tempting to stock – for the last reason I suspect that the apple in the pleasure ground at Langley Park, Bucks , where it has always been protected from animals, may be a rare 18th century survivor. The practice of planting crabs in hedges (still common-place in Herefordshire – for example in the hedges around Moccas) is such a straight-forward one, providing fodder for the stock and a certain amount of wood, as well as spring flower and autumn fruit on the trees, that it should occasion no surprise. We should certainly expect Brown to have used them, despite Shenstone’s concern: ‘The hedge-row apple-trees in Herefordshire afford a most beautiful scenery, at the time they are in blossom. But the prospect would be really grander, did it consist of simple foliage’.
The same case could be made for cherry, valued both for its timber and fruit, and widely recommended in Brown’s own day for ‘hedge Rows, Orchards, Parks, or Warrens’. However the most striking absence of our fruits must be the pear, which for scale, size and beauty with its cascades of fruit against gleaming green leaves, would have been a stunning addition to parkland planting, but which barely gets mentioned, even by such sympathetic authorities as Thomas Hale.
In short, the only reason for the absence of these trees may be that they have been lost through age.
Oranges , Mr W, are only for Orangeries, but any records of other fruit in parkland would be greatly appreciated were they to be submitted to the Brown Advisor.