Scampston Walled Garden


2016 marks the 300th anniversary of landscape artist Lancelot “Capability” Brown, whose designs changed the face of of 18th century England. Born in Northumberland in 1716, he learnt the skills of horticulture and husbandry from the age of 16, as an apprentice on the Wallington estate.  His vision was extraordinary and over the course of 40 years he moved gardens away from formal design to a style that is unmistakably his.

Brown persuaded the rich and famous to invest in landscapes which were beautiful, productive, and would take a century to mature. He designed on an immense scale, moving hills and making flowing lakes that resembled artificial rivers.  His work frequently produced an Arcadian idyll.  Sadly I have never visited Stowe in Buckinghamshire, his best known work, but he was involved in the design of over 250 sites throughout the UK.


Scampston Hall in North Yorkshire sits beside the busy A64 road.  Wandering serenely across the estate you might never know.  A lazy sheep or two blink, and turn their backs.  The grounds at Scampston were redesigned by Capability in the 1770’s.  They bear all the hallmarks of his work.  A ‘ha ha’, or sunken fence, to confuse the eye, carefully planted trees and an expansive lake that resembles a river running off into infinity.

Oddly enough, I didn’t come to Scampston in search of the Palladian Bridge, but I think that Paula might like it for her Traces of the past.  The lure of the Walled Garden is the ‘new European garden style’, designed in 1999 by Piet Oudolf.  1999 no longer feels new but I did find enchantment in the drifts of Molinia grass.  Here is a small sample of what you might find.



There’s much more, of course.  You can do some hedge trimming, or even have a cream tea.


But you can’t beat Capability and a few Marsh Marigolds, can you?

I’m not sure if Scampston Walled Garden fits with Jude’s Garden Challenge, but I know she’ll like it.  That’s reason enough, isn’t it?


  1. hi jo – I still have a hard time commenting on your blog at times – and the recent Monday walk will not let me comment (easy living for sure along that canal and what a great walk) and the same thing with water lilies – and had no idea there were 100 plus varieties – your photos were exquisite – but did not see the heart- although it could be because I am on mobile (smaller screen)
    anyhow – with this splendid post – had to soak up the flowers a couple of times – the walled garden is a sign of taste and formality
    -and u my friend are a great photo journalist!
    have a great day and see you tomorrow for this week’s walk!

    1. So sorry to make life hard, Yvette! Our blogs must be incompatible 😦 😦 When your comments come in I have to approve them before I can even reply! That never used to happen. I think it’s since I went Premium but that’s almost a year now. I didn’t have many choices because I’d run out of photo memory. I’m not even sure that you’ll see this reply and it’s all very frustrating. You’re a good pal and I hate to mess anybody about. Thanks for sticking with me and the kind words. 🙂 The only suggestion I can make is that you try unfollowing and follow again. 😦 No idea if that will help.

      1. hi -well thanks for caring – and you would think premium would make it easier – but I have figured out the best way to visit “tricky” blogs and self hosted sites is to go into the reader – click manage – and acress that way ! works perfect – and it actually fits my blogging style a little better these days – which is to visit a few posts at one time – and I will likely upgrade later for more space – and it is worth every cent –
        have a great week and be back later – or make hat – see u in September

  2. How very, very beautiful. I love reading about Capability Brown though I have only ever seen his gardens on TV. Your photos make me feel like I was there in a way.

  3. I love the name “Capability” Brown – and his garden style is really interesting. I will have to keep a lookout for one of his gardens when we next visit England, if we are fortunate enough to be close to one. Great photo of the bee and butterfly! I don’t have a macro lens, and my photos of insects always are a bit blurred. I’m especially envious when I see someone has captured a great butterfly photo.

    1. I don’t have a ‘proper’ camera with special lens, Susan. Just a little point and shoot Canon with a macro setting. Sometimes I’m luckier than others. There are heaps of Capability gardens around. In fact I’m visiting one this Friday and I didn’t even know he’d been involved till I read the blurb. 🙂 Shout up if you’re coming over and I’ll find you one. 🙂 Thanks for your company.

    1. That’s quite funny! I was at Perry’s Plants last Thursday 🙂 We’d been doing a walk at Littlebeck and dropped in for a drink (and bought a couple of plants, of course 🙂 )

  4. As much as I love wild, open places, I also relish these more organized green spaces. And as the perfect in-between, there are those beautiful grasses – I loved them the most!

    1. Makes me realise how very lucky I am, Cynthia, to have seen several. 🙂 Amazing how one guy and his ideas can change a landscape. Thank you very much for your company.

  5. Look at that butterfly image! Jo that really is a stunner. I’m also very taken with those lily pads. It seems as though you were the only soul there. Very peaceful.

    1. It was a BIG place, Sue, and I can wait patiently when I have to. Mick takes the Michael and walks across waggling his hands at every possible opportunity. Honestly, the things some people have to suffer to put a blog post together! Happy Friday, Sue 🙂

    1. He certainly knew his business! Good news, Susan- it’s raining! I might finally get round to some reading. 🙂 I’ve been watching the fires in California in horror. Makes you realise how lucky we are with our English rain.

      1. Pretty scary though! I met another lady (an artist) from the Morro Bay area this week. I asked if she knew your blog and gave her the link but I can’t for the life of me remember her blog name 😦

  6. Wonderful post. I love this kind of garden, but before travelling England again, it will have to be Palladian architecture, in Veneto. I also hope to come up with some walks that deserve the name…

    1. That would be fabulous, Tobias! 🙂 I envy anybody Venice. I don’t watch much TV but this week a series of canal journeys with Prunella Scales and Timothy West started in the Veneto. So wonderful! It’s many years since I was there. Enjoy! 🙂

  7. I have a thing about a walled garden – makes you feel you’ve escaped from the world outside. Mr Brown was a prolific landscaper wasn’t he – and I’m so glad as his gardens are glorious. Cream tea looks good too Jo! 😉

    1. Hi Suze! 🙂 How funny- I was just apologising to Lucy because I haven’t been to hers recently. I always tend to associate you two. Two of the best bloggers I know, and from ‘back in the day’ 🙂 Always space for a cream tea, honeybun 🙂

  8. I shall be back tomorrow to walk around, just wanted to say how much I love the Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’ – I must get one of those in my garden! Raining here and set to be a very stormy next couple of days! I shall hunker down and start planning my garden changes for next year 🙂

      1. Will be back with a vengeance this weekend, from the sound of things. Batten down the hatches 🙂 🙂 Have you heard from Meg the last couple of days? I think she’s busy with the twins but I often end up in her spam. Don’t like to pester.

      2. Meg has been quiet, but like you say, probably full of twins, they must be a handful, I’m not sure I could cope with them for very long.

      3. What a lovely tranquil place. I love walled gardens and would move house again if I could find a place with one (in my dreams). I have just got a book out of the library of Piet Oudolf naturalistic gardens. And one on Mediterranean design. Over the winter I want to plan some changes for next year. Nothing major, I just need more borders so I can have more plants 🙂 probably not as many as I have listed though!

  9. Jude will love it and so do I! That Capability got around a bit didn’t he? I wonder if Piet Oudolf will be remembered as long. In Exeter this year, they have left lots of the verges and green spaces to grow wild – with notices saying ‘Wild Exeter’. Some people say it’s a mess, but I like it and so does the wildlife, it reminds me a bit of Piet Oudolf!
    Hope you’re okay chookie, neither of us have been around much this week, but I expect you’re having a good time x:-)x

    1. I’m fine thanks, Gilly. 🙂 Been out and about enjoying the sunshine. All set to change tomorrow. 😦 A lot of our verges have been sewn with wildflowers too. I think it must be a national initiative. Great idea 🙂 Hugs, honey!

      1. Good now…arrived back in England last night after a tough 6 weeks in Spain (paperwork, no Internet and family “stuff”) then a difficult 3 day drive…happy to be back in Bexhill!

  10. I had not heard of him before, love his name ” capability ” so very appropriate for a very talented man who has left a beutiful legacy for us all to enjoy I will make sure to visit it one day😄

    1. This is one of his lesser known gardens, Gilda. Castle Howard in Yorkshire is one of his finest. And Stowe! If you follow the Capability link the National Trust look after 18 of his gardens. 🙂

      1. Gardens are not a priority but if we come across one then we always enjoy. Blarney Castle gardens were the last ones that we stumbled across. A couple of weeks ago I went with my grandchildren to the ‘Forbidden Corner’ in Middleham, Yorkshire and although it is a bit quirky it is a good garden visit!

      1. I only have the common white one, but the pollinators adore it. I will look out for the paprika variety and maybe a gold one too, they are lovely and I suspect they’ll do OK in this garden. Oh, and thanks for providing the scones this time 🙂

  11. Gorgeous!
    Terry Pratchett has a character, Bergholt Stuttley Johnson, who is loosely based on Capability Brown, only Johnson’s designs all turn out wrong in some small or spectacular way. This gave rise to his other name Bloody Stupid Johnson.

  12. I never saw landscaping as an art form, but now I do. It provides a whole new dimension and appreciation, really. And, I had to look up husbandry to find out it has nothing to do with marriage or cheating. 🙂 Amazing that people would invest so much money in scenery that would take 100 years to mature. All so the next generation and the ones to follow could enjoy these beautiful parks. I wish that “forward thinking” or “long term anticipation” is present in today’s generations as well, in western and less developed countries! Nature and wildlife would benefit tremendously.

    Liesbet @ Roaming About

  13. Oh, I love walled gardens – a certain magic with all that concentrated creative planting. And of course to finish the obligatory scone and clotted cream! Looks a lovely place to visit and I’m trying to work out how I’ve never heard of this before! One to visit when next time up in Yorkshire. Have a lovely day, Jo. 😀

    1. It’s not very high profile, Annika. My husband is a member of the RHS and it’s in their handbook. I think the grasses will look lovely as they change colour in Autumn. Thank you! We’ve been hiking down on the Moors today. Glorious!

  14. I’m going to have to look this one up….looks great. And you have never been to Stowe?? A must, Jo….thank goodness I went when I could still walk some distance

    1. It’s a bit out of the way from here, Sue, and we have Castle Howard which is really beautiful, so we’re not neglected. There are links in the post to both Scampston and Capability. 🙂

      1. Are you watching Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes on More 4? He visited Castle Howard this week – incredible place. I don’t think I have ever been there unless to the grounds as a child. The money spent on these places is extraordinary!

    1. I do have some sheep photos from Scampston but I didn’t want to make the post too long. I seem to find sheep everywhere these days. Today too 🙂 How are your knees, by the way?

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