Stamps with Capabilities

Capability Brown commemorative stamps issued by Royal Mail on 16th August 2016

It's great when my interests collide, as happened with my gardening and stamp collecting obsessions yesterday. This is the Landscape Gardens First Day Cover I received, which commemorates the tercentenary of Capability Brown's birth.

I know I've admitted to doing something a bit nerdy, but in my defence I've been collecting them since I was 11 years old. To fuel my inner nerd even further, I've opted for the special handstamp to go with my cover; in this instance it's Kirkharle, Northumberland, where Capability Brown was born.

The eight gardens featured were selected for their different ways in which they illustrate Brown's work (summarised from the descriptions in the accompanying card):

  • Blenheim Palace: where Brown decided to half-submerge Vanbrugh's 'Bridge in the air'
  • Longleat: where he re-engineered the canals and serpentine into a mile-long series of lakes
  • Compton Verney: working alongside Robert Adam, Brown softened and remodelled the existing wilderness and pools into the type of parkscape he's noted for
  • Highclere Castle: a lake created from marshy ground, a new hill, smoothed-out valleys, avenues removed and trees brought together... Brown's design approach in a nutshell
  • Alnwick Castle:  another joint venture with Robert Adam, rescuing a castle in ruins this time (I wonder how much of Brown's vision remains after the current Duchess of Northumberland's remodelling? Must revisit again and ask that question to those who know...)
  • Berrington Hall: Brown's final landscape design
  • Stowe: where Brown learned his trade before striking out on his own
  • Croome Park: a 10-year long project (most of Brown's work was in this kind of timeframe) which includes a Gothic church used as an eye-catcher
The Royal Mail always has plenty of anniversaries to choose to celebrate, so it's great to see a garden related one's been chosen for this year. Garden lovers should also note: one of our favourite garden insects and benefactors - the ladybird - is featured on the Post and Go stamps due for release on 14th September.


A selection of my posts about Capability Brown, or gardens connected with his work


  • The lost world of Capability Brown - a special exhibition at Lacock Abbey earlier this year, and a show garden at Malvern Spring Festival
  • Events with Capabilities - an introduction to this year's tercentenary events, illustrated with some of the Capability Brown gardens and landscapes I've visited. Includes a list of Wiltshire gardens associated with his work
  • A taste of the good life at Luton Hoo - another Brown/Adam masterpiece with the original vast estate only second in size to Blenheim
  • Dunham Massey - I visited the (then) new winter garden, but there's plenty more to see at this National Trust property just outside Manchester
  • Perry pear day at Dyrham Park - another garden local to me with a Brownian connection

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