Mr Honey comes in spinning like a top – I have seldom seen such irritability in a man – and flings onto our table first one issue then another then another of The Spectator – a journal with which I feel myself to be closely associated. Indeed it is one in which I take a nigh-on paternal interest. Each of these issues has within it another attack on the landscapes of Capability Brown.
Professor R of Cambridge has asked whether Brown used a wider range of trees than the few survivors of his planting would indicate. His question builds quite neatly from the last note, on fruit trees.
In my last I touched on Capability Brown’s lavish deployment of conker trees. Though he appears to have loved them for their luxuriant leaf and flower, these trees were, in the 18th century, never quite taken seriously – as his nephew, H.J.Pye reported ‘Lord Barrington used to say, that a conker in full flower gave him the idea of a giant’s nosegay’.
Monsieur B of Orléans has touched again on the subject of old trees, and whether Capability Brown saved them or even modified his work to take account of them. Well, well, well. The questions are good, and the short answers are yes and yes, but then again, simple decency bids me add, also no and no.