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Winter walks in Capability Brown country by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot Brown, better known as Capability Brown, arguably England’s greatest gardener. There are lots of anniversary events and exhibitions planned throughout 2016 and we will be highlighting some in due course. Meanwhile, to get in the spirit, here are three Capability Brown parks that are perfect for blowing the cobwebs away at this time of year.

Croome Court, Worcestershire

The gardens and park at Croome Court (above) were Capability Brown’s first landscape design for the 6th Earl of Coventry. Brown didn’t change a great deal in the existing walled garden, but he really went to town in the park, adding a man-made lake and river, and a plethora of statues and temples. And then there are his famous 'eye-catchers' – pieces of classical architecture strategically placed at the edges of the park. Download the 5.6 km Park Seat walk from the Croome Court website and spend a couple of hours strolling along the river banks. The park is open from 10.30-16.30. Image/©National Trust

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Capability Brown worked at Stowe for 10 years while he learned his craft. Parts of the garden reflect the politics and morality of the day, with a Path of Virtue, a Path of Vice and Path of Liberty, each furnished with temples and monuments. This is also where Brown first incorporated a ha-ha in the main garden to protect it from livestock without disrupting the view of the landscape beyond it. If time is limited, head for the Eastern Gardens and admire the Gothic Temple, the Temple of friendship and Palladian Bridge (above). At this time of year, the gardens are open from 10am-4pm and the park from dawn to dusk. See website for details of events and exhibition. Image/©National TrustBlenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The rolling parkland at Blenheim is the epitome of Capability Brown's style. His 18th-century improvements included damming the River Glyme which created the much-photographed lake, with its picturesque cascades, where Winston Churchill proposed to Clementine in 1908. The lake provides a natural habitat for all sorts of wildlife, including duck, geese, heron, moorhen and swans. Look out for deer and monkjack on the woodland trail that runs around the park. Beautiful in summer, this also has to be the perfect place for a bracing winter walk. At this time of year the park is open from 9am-dusk. Image/©Blenheim Palace

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