Stowe

As impressive as the gardens and park at Blenheim were, the ones at Stowe (which Capability Brown did early in his career) blew me away.  I loved the vastness of the views, which were designed to give the impression of going on forever without interruption (kind of like infinity pools today).

And I loved how the paths guided you from those infinite vistas to intimate wooded paths with strategically places openings that framed the house at attractive angles . . .

. . . or which guided your eye to decorative “eye-catchers” in the distance.  The eye-catcher might be a rustic hermitage . . .

. . . a palladian covered bridge . . .

. . . or a delicate arch in the Doric style . . .

The way the views constantly changed, and delight that came with discovering some new eye-catcher or vista, made this one of the most pleasurable garden experiences I have ever had.  There wasn’t a single flower, but the genius of the design behind it, and the way that it engaged through physical activity, aesthetic pleasure, and intellectual triggers (most of the eye-catchers had some sort of mythological or allegorical significance designed to inspire philosophy and reflection) made it such a rich experience.

On the way out I passed this meadow, which is a great example of the sleight of hand that Brown used in designing his parks.  The trees look completely random from this view, but when seen from a different angle (as in the first photo above) they create a symmetrical frame for the wide meadow and distant eye-catcher.  The sheep of course are picturesque from a distance but they would destroy the undulating waves of long grass and wildflowers, and fences would interrupt the flow, so Brown used ha-has — or sunken ditches with one-sided walls that were invisible from the viewpoint — to keep the sheep where they were wanted without breaking the lines.  The earth-removal required to construct ha-has was of course intensive, making them extremely expensive in the age before machines, but the effect is really lovely.

One comment

  1. Cindy Davis · · Reply

    I could live here…(sigh)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Seth's Blog

Seth Godin's Blog on marketing, tribes and respect

Owning My OCD

Making sense of my world

Master Class

Travel, Teaching, and the Arts

%d bloggers like this: