Steffie Shields MBE is a lecturer, photographer, historic/landscape/ conservationist consultant and a writer for consumer magazines. She is very passionate about her subject. So much so she has written a book about Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown called Moving Heaven and Earth.
I thought I knew a lot about Mr Brown but after Steffie’s presentation to Ticknall Garden Club on April 11th 2023, I realised how wrong I could be. We now know that we have Mr Brown’s landscapes on our own doorstep. Melbourne Hall and Chatsworth have stood the test of time and show what a genius he was.
Perhaps though Sheffield could have started with Mr Browns date and place of birth as sometimes it became confusing. It was only eventually mentioned about halfway through as being in Northumberland in 1719. He was the son of a land agent and chambermaid and began a career in gardening.
However, we all learnt that in his designs Mr Brown would plant flowering shrubs, double jonquil daffodils and the obligatory Scots pine tree. He would also include lakes and cascades where possible. Mr Brown’s first major project was Stowe Gardens and Landscape in Buckinghamshire. This was one of over 250 projects carried out in his lifetime, none of which he would have seen come to maturity.
It was interesting to learn about Mr Brown’s personal life which included the fact that he and his wife knew loss as they had 10 children with only 5 surviving.
In summary, Steffie’s talk was informative, educational and interesting but could have been more cohesive. I think though, we all realise that Lancelot ‘ Capability’ Brown changed some of our landscape for ever and these landscapes are well worth discovering.