The Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown

46: Rabbits?

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

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301: Was Brown a land artist?

Mrs M writes from New York to ask whether the great gardener (but perhaps in this context he might be better described as an earth-mover) Capability Brown might be compared to the American land artists on the fourth quarter of the 20th century.

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294: Was Brown a romantic?

I am under attack, and the experience mortifies me! I slept, I nodded, I agree, and Mrs S of Grantham has rightly corrected me for suggesting that Capability Brown, master of the arts, had been likened to Shakespeare in his own lifetime.

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295: Where did he get his trees?

Mrs W of Newcastle-upon-Tyne has asked where her local boy, Capability Brown, got his trees, and it’s a good question, especially when it comes from that splendid city Newcastle, strong indeed in the matter of coal-mines and ships, but less so when it comes to the commercial tree nurseries of the 18th century.

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293: What part did infinity play?

The Bar adopts at times the quietly assured purr of the contented cat who has seen the mouse and is merely waiting for a propitious moment to spring.

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300: What’s the point of a tercentenary?

Though she seldom has time to stay for an answer, the redoubtable Mrs D is never at a loss for a question and she has asked me what legacy our celebration of the tercentennial of that great maestro of the spade, Capability Brown, should leave for future generations.

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299: What is Brown’s legacy?

Recently returned from his tour to the eastern states, Captain Ken has reported his astonishment that Americans could describe the architecture and layout of New York as beautiful, and his further astonishment at the praise they heaped on the scenery along the train line from New York to Philadelphia.

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298: Should landscapes be private?

I return to my recent note (296) in response to a particular query from Miss P of Harlaxton who asks what grounds I have for supposing that the Dukes of Rutland drew their sense of themselves from the deep, and probably imagined, past.

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297: Who’d live in a village?

Many questions have been raised about the standing of the 18th century village. Was it Oliver Goldsmith’s Auburn and a heaven on earth, or was it squalid, unsanitary and absolutely to be avoided?

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296: Who did the driving?

Captain Ken, being a bicycling man, is forever in pursuit of some new place in which to try his skills, be it the screes of a mountain slope or the dense undergrowth of a distant forest and he now returns from the United States for a renewed disdain for the familiar well-trodden paths of custom.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs