This year, the Gardens Trust is leading a national celebration of the life, work and legacy of Humphry Repton, the last great landscape gardener of the eighteenth century, responsible for some 400 landscapes across Britain, including Longleat in Wiltshire, Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire and Russell Square in London.

Repton wanted to fill the gap left by the death of Capability Brown in 1783. He initially championed Brown’s landscape style but later adopted the ideas of the picturesque movement. His work therefore links the landscape design of the eighteenth century and the gardenesque movement of the early Victorian years.

His work reintroduced terraces, gravel walks and flower beds into the area around the house, to provide a foreground for views of the landscape. Repton also designed separate flower gardens, with more elaborate ornamental or themed planting, a style which became popular in the nineteenth century.

Much of his work included improvements to existing landscape schemes at the estates of aristocratic clients like the Dukes of Bedford and Portland, but interestingly also included designs for much smaller properties as his career coincided with war, economic instability, and the rise of the ‘nouveau riche’.

The way Repton presented his landscape designs was a key part of his success. He produced ‘Red Books’ or folios of his plans, drawings, maps and a description of the improvements he proposed to make. They famously include watercolour paintings with overlays showing ‘before’ and ‘after’ views of the estate.

His ideas about landscape design continue to influence designers today.

More than 200 sites and project stakeholders coordinated by the Gardens Trust, from English Heritage to local volunteer and friends’ groups, are coming together to run hundreds of Repton-inspired activities, ranging from conferences to special public garden openings. These include:

• Celebrating Humphry Repton in Norfolk, a Norfolk-based festival with over 40 events including baby and toddler activity days, after school clubs, a foraging workshop, writing sessions, concerts and more, from March-June 2018, organised by Aylsham and District Team Ministry, Broadland District Council, the Norfolk Gardens Trust and the National Trust

• Repton and the Russells, a major exhibition at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire from 23 March to 10 October 2018. Curated by the Woburn curatorial team with landscape designer Keir Davidson, the exhibition will include the Red Books for Woburn and Endsleigh as well as archive accounts, letters and works of art illustrating the importance of the Russell family’s patronage of Repton

• Repton Rides: led by Tatton Park's Head Gardener, Simon Tetlow, this is a unique opportunity to see Repton's Design of 1792 by guided cycle ride, Tatton Park, Cheshire, 17 April 2018

• ‘Celebrating Repton’ Family Picnic with Northamptonshire Gardens Trust at Wicksteed Park, Northamptonshire, 30 June 2018

• Heritage Open Day, St John’s, Ryde, Isle of Wight, 15 September 2018

• Repton Revived: An exhibition of Red Books, designs and watercolours by Humphry Repton at the Garden Museum, London, from 17 October 2018 to 3 February 2019. The exhibition brings together the greatest number of Red Books for over 30 years

• Joint Symposium with the Garden Museum to showcase County Garden Trust’s research on Repton research, London, 5 November 2018

• The Landscape Institute will announce a competition for school students to create either a physical or a digital version of a Red Book