As we in the USA honor the memory of our fallen heroes this Memorial Day, my thoughts are with all the military families who’ve lost loved ones, and with the veterans who’ve lost buddies on what’s got to be a painful but proud day each year. I’m grateful for the chance to say thank you for your sacrifice, and I'll continue to remember our brave military personnel in my prayers.
Now pass the apple pie! ;) Hope you're all having a great weekend and getting to spend time with loved ones and enjoying some much-deserved sunshine! Book news coming soon, just wanted to post a quick hello and wish all my readers a Happy Memorial Day!
If you were to travel back in time to the late 17th century to visit one of the grand estates in Britain, you would probably find it surrounded with beautiful, symmetrical gardens, accurately laid out in pleasing designs, where nature was strictly regulated and visibly tamed by man. But soon, tastes were changing, and in the early 18th century one man revolutionized British garden architecture by creating gardens that were modelled on paintings of an idealized landscape.
This man was William Kent, and he invented what become known as the British landscape garden.
His first garden project was Chiswick, where he worked largely under the guidance of his patron Lord Burlington. It was his next projects, among them Stowe and Stourhead, where he could fully develop his vision for this new style of garden. He designed the garden of Stowe House as an idyllic landscape with hills and valleys. A small river leisurely meanders through it, and small temples draw the eye and form focal points for beautiful vistas. Just like a landscape painter, the garden architect designs views and landscapes.
Kent's ideas for garden design soon spread, not the least because of the men he was working with at Stowe, namely James Gibbs and Lancelot "Capability" Brown, who would become the greatest of all British garden architects and whose 300th birthday we celebrate this year.
One of the intriguing things about landscape gardens are certainly the small buildings – the follies – dotted around the landscape. They reflect contemporary tastes, but can also be wildly eccentric. At Stowe we find neoclassical designs such as the Temple of Concord and Victory…
…or the Rotunda…
…next to some of the very first neo-gothic buildings in Britain, such as Gibbs' Gothic Temple…
…and even the very first building in Britain built in the Chinese style.
The garden at Stowe House was thus very much a forerunner in fashions of design: both chinoiserie and neo-gothic design would grow in popularity throughout the 18th century. Indeed, some people even put fake ruins into their gardens. A good example of this is the ruined castle built on the orders of the 1st Earl of Harwick in the gardens of Wimpole Hall.
Yet the large parks and gardens were not merely meant for pleasure, but also had to serve a practical function: they had to provide fruits and vegetables for the kitchen of the country house. So as not to ruin the beautiful views, the kitchen gardens were usually built a little away from the house and were sometimes additionally shielded by trees. They were surrounded by high brick walls that served both as a protection from the wind and as a natural heat storage so even delicate plants like peach trees could prosper.
On some estates, the kitchen gardens were integrated into the whole design of the grounds, and the hothouses in particular became lavish buildings which any owner would be proud to show to his guests. One of the plants cultivated in hothouses was the pineapple, which ideally would be ripe in time for Christmas. The 4th Earl of Dunmore seems to have had a particular liking for pineapples – a preference that is reflected in the very design of one of his large hothouses: the Dunmore Pineapple.
Find out more:
William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K99dalOrR1c
Alan Titchmarsh gets a chance to look at Capability Brown's plans for the park and gardens of Belvoir Castle (pronounced "Beaver" Castle) – and they're pretty big: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd7hglXqtic
Capability Brown's EPIC engineering: A look at the artifical lakes at Wotton House https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0fsB5cSaUQ
And if you really, really, REALLY want to dig into garden history, check out the Garden History Lecture series organized by Claremont Fan Court School:
Lecture 1: Subverting the Palladian: William Kent and the Eclectic Urge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWxAaxUNnB8
Lecture 2: The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot "Capability" Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEsWWiYW8gE
Attributions of Images
Stowe: Grecian Valley Looking towards the Temple of Concord and Victory: By Philip Halling, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13521107
Stowe: The Rotondo from across the Eleven Acre Lake: By Philip Halling, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4391378
Gothic Temple, Stowe: By Amanda Lewis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4391286
Stowe: The Chinese House: By Philip Halling, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8397611
The Wimpole Folly: By Users Tysto, Nickarse2412 on en.wikipedia - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1076760
The Dunmore Pineapple: By giannandrea - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12863790
May Note to Readers
Hello there, my dear blog visitors! Hope your May is off to a great start. For me, I'm on an especially intense writing binge this month -- and loving it. Given all the feverish creativity going on behind the scenes here, I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to my muse. *grin*
Now, you probably thought a muse is a light and sparkly, airy-fairy creature sort of like the one in this CLASSIC Albert Brooks comedy that every writer/creative should watch for a hearty chuckle. And, I admit, sometimes my muse can be like this, too...
But, for the most part, to be perfectly honest, my muse bears a much closer resemblance to this guy, lol...
Sir, yes, sir! Discipline, discipline, discipline. LOL. And so you can see why I'm keeping this blog post short ~ better get back to it before I end up with latrine duty!!!
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Before I sign off, I also wanted to wish all you wonderful moms out there a very happy Mother's Day. Forget the brain surgeons and the rocket scientists ~ you've got the most important job there is. Hope you have a wonderful celebration with your family. I'm looking forward to giving my Mom a big hug this Sunday and sitting down to a lovely brunch with her and my sisters and their husbands and the whole gang. Lots of love to you and yours, Gaelen
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Duke of Shadows
A heartbroken belle, a missing suitor, and a heroic duke in disguise.