Season five of Downton Abbey will return to American television on Sunday, January 4.
This period drama has captured the imagination of viewers across the country. The characters, the clothes, the time period, the setting and, of course, the story all contribute to make this British drama attractive to fans everywhere.
Let us not forget however the importance the landscape plays for an American gardener audience.
The lawn and gardens of Downton Abbey [really Highclere Castle] we owe to Lancelot Capability Brown (1716-1783), the landscape gardener to the King. Thus the opening shot of the lawn which extends all the way to the walls of the castle contains a bit of history. The five acre kitchen garden and cutting garden behind the house which often become part of a story line on the show are also part of that history, the handiwork of Capabiity Brown in the eighteenth century.
Brown’s romantic style of landscape has appealed to Americans since the beginning of the country. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson chose that garden style for their own properties.
In the nineteenth century American seed companies and nurseries sold their seeds and plants with a promise that the gardener could have a landscape like the one on the cover of the catalog, which was often an illustration with the elements of the English garden, especially the lawn.
Since the theme of my book America’s Romance with the English Garden hinges on the marketing of the English garden in seed and nursery catalogs of the nineteenth century, we prepared a video book trailer which links the book to the television program Downton Abbey.
Here is the book trailer which I made with the help of Mac Capen, a talented media student at Bridgewater State University. I hope you enjoy it.