RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Marks the 300th

Anniversary of ‘England’s Greatest Gardener’
by RHS
June 26, 2016

• New category at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (5 – 10 July) celebrates the life of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown

• A fitting tribute: Brown, one of history’s most influential landscape gardeners, was made Head Gardener of Hampton Court in 1764

• Three top designers acknowledge Brown’s work and style including his favoured ‘ha ha’ approach and his use of reflection in lakes

• RHS Historian welcomes the ‘opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Brown’s work and what it might mean for the 21st century’

Next month, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) pays homage to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, whose landscaping changed the face of 18th century England. Three gardens that celebrate his work will feature at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (5 – 10 July), supported by Viking River Cruises.

Nicknamed ‘Capability’ for describing landscapes as having ‘great capabilities’, Brown was famous for introducing new concepts which favoured naturalistic landscape, sweeping away a previously formal patterned style. Brown become a pioneer in the gardening world throughout the last three centuries and is seen by some as “England’s greatest gardener”.

Paying tribute to Brown’s designs at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Victoria Truman (from Kent) makes a contemporary homage to Brown’s landscaping with her garden, Reflecting the Landscape. Truman uses serpentine landforms to create the illusion of a valley and places his signature trees, such as copper beech, to adorn the mounds. A turfed bench allows the visitor to sit and contemplate the surrounding countryside which will be visible between and beneath the canopies of the trees.

The Capable of Reinvention garden designed by Peter Wood, Zaidee Penhaligon, Emma Wilson, Alex Newman and Lyndsay Cooper (from Sussex) is based on a study of reflection - inspired by Capability’s innovative use of reflection in his lakes. The designers use water to reflect both the planting and the custom made sculpture follies with the aim of distorting illusion and perspective. The unusual shape of the garden constructs the visitors view through the space, while the path drags deeper into the contours of the land where the famous Capability tree clump is reimagined in dead wood and metal.

And finally, Burnham Landscaping demonstrates a contemporary interpretation of one of Brown’s most favoured elements; the ‘ha-ha’ style in Mind the Gap. International designers Dendetta Pecorari and Alisa Veretti (from Italy) will split the garden into two zones, a lawn reachable by visitors and a wildflower area to be admired.

Dividing the two environments is a moat, ensuring the wildflowers remain a place to be admired from afar whilst creating a clear visual perspective to the onlooker, like one of the paintings which inspired Capability’s gardens.

RHS Historian, Brent Elliott, said: “Capability Brown was the most famous and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. There is a strong link between Brown and Hampton Court Palace; he was appointed chief gardener at Hampton Court in 1764, and his role was to run the kitchen gardens to provide produce for the royal family. “This year marks the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth. There is a host of events and publications being produced to celebrate the occasion, and the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show provides an opportunity for a celebration in three dimensions. Three show gardens are being created as modern responses to aspects of Brown’s design principles.

“Visitors to the Show will have an opportunity to reflect and debate about the legacy of Brown’s work, and what it might mean for the 21st century.” The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from 5 – 10 July 2016. For further information or to buy tickets, please visit the RHS website at

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