Great Garden Designers
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783)
Lancelot Brown more commonly known with the byname Capability Brown, was an English landscape architect. He is remembered as “the last of the great English 18th century artists to be accorded his due” and “England’s greatest gardener”. He designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure. He was nicknamed “Capability” because he would tell his clients that their property had “capability” for improvement.His influence was so great that the contributions to the English garden made by his predecessors Charles Bridgeman and William Kent are often overlooked. It is estimated that Brown was responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain. His work still endures at Croome Court (where he also designed the house), Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Harewood House, Appuldurcombe House, Milton Abbey (and nearby Milton Abbas village), in traces at Kew Gardens and many other locations. His style of smooth undulating grass, which would run straight to the house, clumps, belts and scattering of trees and his serpentine lakes formed by invisibly damming small rivers, were a new style within the English landscape, a “gardenless” form of landscape gardening, which swept away almost all the remnants of previous formally patterned styles.
Humphrey Repton (1752-1818)
Humphry Repton was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, often regarded as the successor to Capability Brown; he also sowed the seeds of the more intricate and eclectic styles of the 19th century. At a low ebb and with his capital dwindling, Repton moved to a modest cottage at Hare Street near Romford in Essex. In 1788, aged 36 and with four children and no secure income, he hit on the idea of combining his sketching skills with his limited experience of laying out grounds at Sustead to become a ‘landscape gardener’ (a term he himself coined). Since the death of Capability Brown in 1783, no one figure dominated English garden design; Repton was ambitious to fill this gap and sent circulars round his contacts in the upper classes advertising his services. Repton produced designs for the grounds of many of the foremost country houses in England, Scotland and Wales:
•Catton Park, Old Catton, Norwich
• Culford Hall, now Culford School
• Dagnam Park, Essex
•East India Company College now Haileybury
• Endsleigh House
• Gosfield Place
•Highams Park, Woodford
•Hylands House, Chelmsford
•Kensington Gardens, alterations
• Kidbrooke Park, now Michael Hall School
•Royal Pavilion at Brighton
•Royal Fort, Bristol
•Rudding Park, Harrogate
•Russell Square, Bloomsbury
• St. John’s Park, Ryde, Isle of Wight
•Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire
•Stubbers, North Ockendon
• Sufton Court, Herefordshire
• Thoresby Park
• Trewarthenick, Cornwall
• Warren House, Loughton
•West Wycombe Park
Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932)
Gertrude Jekyll was a British horticulturist, garden designer, artist,and writer. She created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States, and wrote over 1,000 articles for magazines such as Country Life and William Robinson’s The Garden.Jekyll has been described as “a premier influence in garden design” by British and American gardening enthusiasts. From 1881, when she laid out the gardens for Munstead House, built for her mother by John James Stevenson, Jekyll provided designs or planned planting for some four hundred gardens. More than half were directly commissioned, but many were created in collaboration with architects such as Lutyens and Robert Lorimer. Most of her gardens are lost. A small number have been restored, including her own garden at Munstead Wood, the gardens of Hestercombe House, and the garden at the Manor House in Upton Grey that she designed for the magazine editor Charles Holme.
Harold Peto (1854-1933)
Harold Ainsworth Peto was a British architect, landscape architect and garden designer, who worked in Britain and in Provence, FranceHarold made Iford Manor his permanent base. He re-designed and expanded the garden, trying out new ideas, and incorporating the artefacts collected during his travels around the world. The garden at Iford illustrates particularly his Arts and crafts approach to architecture and garden design.Most of Peto’s major commissions were executed between 1900 and 1914. His projects include work at Easton Lodge, Essex; West Dean House, Sussex; Crichel House, Dorset; Petwood, Lincolnshire; High Wall, Oxford; Buscot Park, Oxfordshire; Hartham Park, Wiltshire; Bridge House, Surrey; Heale House, Wiltshire; Wayford Manor House, Somerset; Burton Pynsent House, Somerset; Ilnacullin, County Cork, Ireland.
Margery Fish (1888-1969)
Margery Fish (née Townshend) was an English gardener and gardening writer, who exercised a strong influence on the informal cottage garden style. Only after Walter’s (her husband)death in 1947 could Margery fully implement her ideas and develop her skills as a plantswoman. She became interested especially in unfashionable green hellebores and other shade-loving spring flowers. She sought to make things grow in cracks and crevices. She soon had a group of correspondents, with whom she swapped ideas and rare plant material. These included Lawrence Johnston of Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire, the garden designer Nancy Lindsay, and the Somerset neighbour Violet Clive of Brympton d’Evercy, an equally passionate gardener. By the late 1950s, East Lambrook garden was being opened to the public for charity and had a small plant nursery attached to it. In 1963, she received a silver Veitch Memorial Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Russell Page (1906-1985)
A painter and garden designer. Russell Page studied at the Slade School in London before a love of plants drew him to garden design. He began his professional career with projects in Rutland (1928), and chateaux in France at Melun (1930) and Boussy Saint-Antoine (1932).On his return to Britain Page was employed by the landscape architect, Richard Sudell, and he began remodelling the gardens at Longleat – work which would continue for many years.Between 1934 and 1938 he contributed articles to the periodical, Landscape and Gardening.From 1935 to 1939 he worked in partnership with Geoffrey Jellicoe. Page and Jellicoe designed the landscape and building for the ‘Caveman Restaurant’ at Cheddar Gorge on the Longleat estate in Somerset, and worked at Royal Lodge, Windsor; Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire; Holme House, Regent’s Park, London; Broadway in the Cotswolds; Charterhouse school.They became friends but the partnership did not work financially. Jellicoe was reticent on this point but used to say ‘Oh, I knew my Page’. From 1945 to 1962 Russell Page lived and worked in France and had an international practice. Russell Page’s book The Education of a Gardener (1962) is a pleasure to read and a fount of wisdom.
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900–1996)
Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe was an English architect, town planner, landscape architect and garden designer. His strongest interest was in landscape and garden design. Geoffrey Jellicoe studied at the Architectural Association in London and later became its principal. His book on Italian Gardens of the Renaissance (1925) led to a commission for the design of the garden at Ditchley Park. Two of Geoffrey Jellicoe’s favourite projects are freely open to the public: The Water Garden in Hemel Hempsted and the Kennedy Memorial in Runnymede. Geoffrey Jellicoe’s most ambitious English garden design was for Sutton Place in Surrey. In the longer term it is likely that Jellicoe, like Repton, will be valued even more as a landscape theorist than as a landscape designer. Jellicoe had a vast knowledge of landscape design history, as demonstrated by his book on The Landscape of Man, and was keenly interested in applying this knowledge to landscape design projects, as explained in his 3 volume Studies in Landscape Design and in his Guelph Lectures on Landscape Design. Educated in same school as Calvert Vaux (London’s Architectural Association), Jellicoe was one of the first to appreciate the shortcomings of a Modernist design approach and arguably became the first Postmodern landscape and garden designer. His friendship with a number of leading modern artists led to an interest in Carl Jung and to Jellicoe’s interest in the role of the subconscious in landscape design.
Rosemary Verey (1918 – 2001)
Rosemary Verey, OBE, VMH was an internationally known English garden designer, lecturer and prolific garden writer who designed the famous garden at Barnsley House, near Cirencester. She was born Rosemary Isabel Baird Sandilands and educated at Eversley School, Folkestone, and University College London. In 1939 she married David Verey, whose family owned Barnsley House. Verey’s most famous garden design was that of her own house, Barnsley House, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. In 1970 she opened the garden for one day to the public for the National Gardens Scheme but eventually it was open 6 days per week to accommodate the 30,000 annual visitors. In 1984 when her husband David died, Rosemary Verey began designing gardens for American and British clients. Most notable are HRH the Prince of Wales, and Sir Elton John, Princess Michael of Kent, the Marquess of Bute and the New York Botanical Garden.Rosemary Verey was well known for taking imposing elements from large public gardens and bringing them into scale for the home gardeners use. Her laburnum walk, which has been photographed many times, is an example of this technique. The National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in North Wales has a very large laburnum walk that inspired Verey to plant a similar, smaller scale laburnum walk at Barnsley House. Verey is also noted for making vegetable (ornamental potager) gardens fashionable once again. The potager at Barnsley House was inspired by that at the Château de Villandry on the Loire in France.She was awarded the OBE in 1996 and in 1999 from the Royal Horticultural Society the highest accolade that Society can award, the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH).