The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

Category: Types of landscape (Page 1 of 3)

1840: was Repton a jobbing gardener?

The editor being out of town, the Type-Setter is called on to address the correspondence that daily reaches the Gazette. The question that falls to him now is this: if in each of his landscapes Repton tried to design something unique, does he thereby lose our respect, for being a jack-of-all-trades with no integrity, prepared to turn his hand to anything that would make him a bob or two?

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46: Rabbits?

Professor M gardens on the greensand ridge in Bedfordshire and tells me she is plagued by rabbits.

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266: Could Brown see two fronts at once?

Captain Ken is an excellent and reliable fellow, if inclined to extreme scepticism when he comes across any suggestion of the Brown Advisor’s. He numbers archery amongst his past-times and it was while we were amusing ourselves at the butts that he asked me whether I was sticking to the notion that Capability Brown preferred to show off his houses in a head-on view. I said I did, for Brown was a friend to freedom and a foe to forced solutions: if head-on was the most obvious way to see a house, then head-on is what he would provide. Indeed I had already published my opinion on the matter (note 12 for example).

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253: How is it for you? (3) Land management

Forgive me if in this note I resume my happy task of setting out the progress of enlightened thought in pursuit of that snappy salesman, the gardener, Capability Brown, through a consideration of Dr Sarah Rutherford’s new book Capability Brown and his landscape gardens.

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233: How can I tell one warren from another?

Miss K of Bristol has written to the Brown Advisor in search of some tangible distinctions between the hare and the rabbit warren or conigree.

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236: What do you know about valleys?

The golden valley, as fine an example of the valley adventitious as you will ever see

The golden valley, as fine an example of the valley adventitious as you are ever likely to see

Miss S writes to tell me that being newly arrived in Berkhamstead she took herself to view the town’s great landmark, known as the Golden Valley, and she wonders now if that master of beech-hung beauty, Capability Brown, whom she knew by reputation, could have worked his wizardry there.

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179: Why then were there so few exotics in parkland?

Here is a final attempt to shed light on this difficult question.

We have noticed perhaps that those exotic broad-leaves that were planted in parkland tend to be planted near structures and buildings, or might have been used as nurses for the slower-growing natives. If we turn now to the pleasure ground we will find by contrast an abundant use of floriferous exotics, and it might be possible to show that Capability Brown’s hand lay behind their purchase.

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177: Did Brown use exotics in parkland? Robinia

Robinia pseudacacia was heralded by William Cobbett as the new, quicker growing oak, yet actually the Rev William Gilpin already knew it to be a brittle wood, and ‘besides, tho a shattered tree may grace a forest; yet, in an adorned scene, it disgusts.’

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76: What did Brown have against avenues?

Returning from a refreshing afternoon in Slough to a fresh delivery of correspondence on the hall table, I was just in time to catch a note from the Tyne as it slid from the top of the pile onto the floor. It was Mr O with news from Northumberland, and a question: did Capability Brown ever plant avenues?

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208: What are warrens?

From her correspondence, freshly delivered from Harlow, it is clear that Dr L has the impression that all warrens were rabbit warrens.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs