When I think of the influence English garden design has had on gardens throughout the Western world, cottage gardens and Arts and Crafts gardens come to mind. But the roots of some contemporary garden features can be traced even further back — to the 18th century and the English landscape gardens of William Kent, Humphrey Repton and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.
Before Brown, the house dominated its surroundings. With his designs the house became an integral part of the landscape, achieved by allowing the gardens to reach to the walls of the house in the form of expansive grass meadows.
Though Brown and other landscapers redesigned the country estates of the landed gentry — remodelling the landscape, creating serpentine lakes and installing classical temples and follies — the relationship of the house to its garden in general was greatly changed. Their ideas still influence our gardens today and can easily be transferred to our more humble dwellings.
Until the 18th century, English country houses were closely surrounded by formal, stylized parterres. The landscape beyond was thought of as wild and untamed, so this enclosure around the house gave the householders a sense of security.
Removing this horticultural barrier, thereby setting the house within the landscape, was an immense change.