We are all more than likely guilty of taking for granted our knowledge of and accessibility to the vast array of world produce available to us in this day and age. The middle of the 18th century (when Capability Brown was becoming well established as a landscape gardener), although a golden age for plant discovery was a very different time.
Brown was born in Northumberland in 1716 which falls at the end of period 4 in the arboricutural journal vol 32 which maps the progress of tree species introduction into the United Kingdom.
According to the chart found here. He would have had the following foreign species available to him should he want them. From North America: American sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua); Ashleaf maple (Acer negundo); Scarlett oak (Quercus coccinea) and the Cigar tree (Catalpa bignonioides). From Asia: Cedars (Truja oriantalis); Ginkgo biloba and the Japonese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica). Then in his later years following Captain Cooks return from the southern hemisphere species like Dicksonia antartica – an evergreen tree fern and the cabbage tree (Cordyline australis).
He often used trees either in clumps or as stand alone specimens to punctuate his landscapes. Cedar of Lebanon was a popular imported tree in his time that he regularly used for this purpose as well as large-leaved London plane trees and evergreen oaks. At Ashburnham Place There’s a great example of Brown using cedars as stand alone specimens in the gate keeper cedar trees.
‘He copied nature so cleverly that his work is often mistaken for a natural landscape’.