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‘Capability’ Brown celebrations begin with tree planting

To launch this year’s ‘Capability’ Brown tercentenary celebrations, The National Trust is planting hundreds of trees back into several of the famous landscape gardener’s designs that it cares for.

Director-General Dame Helen Ghosh planted a cedar of Lebanon, a tree Brown often used in his designs, on 2 February at Croome in Worcestershire. Staff and volunteers have been working to replant the parkland at Croome, one of Brown’s most significant landscapes, over the last decade.

“Many of the trees and shrubs planted by Brown survive in the park today, but many others were lost during the decline of the landscape in the 20th-century,” said garden and park manager at Croome, Katherine Alker.

“Our aim is to replant 10,000 trees to Brown’s original design, often using GPS technology to be sure that new trees are lined up with those on the 18th-century plans of the park and planted with pinpoint accuracy. In 2016 around 500 more trees will be replanted.

Dame Helen Gosh said: “Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was one of this country’s greatest landscape gardeners.  Not only did he design or advise on over 250 landscapes in this country over four decades, but his influence spread throughout Europe.

“He created works of art in nature and we are proud to look after some of his most complete landscapes for the public to enjoy.  We are celebrating his achievements with events, tree plantings and continuing conservation work.”

The cedar planted at Croome replaces one which was lost due to arable farming in the 1900s. Considered one of Brown’s trademark features, cedars of Lebanon can live to many hundreds of years in their natural habitat, and once made up great forests. Their numbers are now considerably reduced and many exist as individual trees in remote places.

The tree was provided by the International Conifer Conservation Programme, based at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, as seeds collected from native Cedrus libani (cedars of Lebanon). These seeds were germinated at the National Pinetum at Bedgebury, before being sent on to the National Trust’s Plant Conservation Centre in Devon to nurture.

There will be further tree plantings in 2016 at Sheffield Park, East Sussex, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, Wimpole, Cambridgeshire and Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire.

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