Situated south-west of Stoke-on-Trent, The Trentham Estate offers a diverse range of landscapes, from its ‘Grand Italianate Parterres’ to contemporary ‘Floral Prairies’ and a mile-long lake, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown.
The centrepiece of the estate, the formal Italian Gardens, has been fully restored to a new planting design by leading British designer Tom Stuart-Smith. The 4ha parterre, complete with fountains and topiary, is planted with a large contemporary scheme featuring over 80,000 choice perennials and 100,000 bulbs for seasonal effect.
Running parallel with the river Trent, a significant new garden has been created by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. He has created a distinctive, fresh 3ha floral prairie and a vast naturalistic meadow using 60,000 perennials and shrubs.
The Trentham Estate is undertaking one of the largest garden regeneration projects in Britain. The project is costing £100 million and has been entirely privately funded by St Modwen Properties and German leisure specialists Willi and Thomas Reitz.
Situated south-west of Stoke-on-Trent, The Trentham Estate offer a diverse range of landscapes, from its ‘Grand Italianate Parterres’ to ‘Floral Prairies’ and a mile-long lake, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. It is a unique contemporary garden making use of and enhancing the qualities of its predecessors.
The Trentham Estate is undertaking one of the largest garden regeneration projects in Britain. The project is costing £100 million and has been entirely privately funded by St Modwen Properties and German leisure specialists Willi and Thomas Reitz. Trentham Gardens is one of the best examples in Europe for a garden contributing or starting a most successful local regeneration process.
The centrepiece of the estate, the formal Italian Gardens, originally designed by Sir Charles Barry, has been fully restored to a new planting design by leading British designer Tom Stuart-Smith. The 4ha parterre, complete with fountains and topiary, is planted with a large contemporary scheme featuring over 80,000 choice perennials and 100,000 bulbs for seasonal effect.
Tom Stuart-Smith writes:
“In the 10-acre Lower Flower Garden I have retained the structure of Barry’s garden but the area of planting is doubled and the character is as different at it could be from the original. Instead of neat rows of bedding plants there are towering masses of veronicastrums, eupatoriums and rudbeckias. It is a dramatic juxtaposition of opposing styles.
I have emphasised Barry’s division of the garden into two levels, which has the main beds of the parterre and the huge fountains set two feet below the main paths.
On the upper level, new box-lined beds have been added. The soil remained unimproved except for lashings of grit. The sharper drainage suits a range of Mediterranean plants, making tapestry-like bands of planting through the garden. More than 130 varieties of bearded irises create a polychromatic explosion that lights up the garden in June before salvias, knautias and euphorbias take over.
The lower level is naturally damper and we have accentuated this by adding muck and compost to the soil. The planting has gone like a rocket and through to late winter — when the skeletons are finally cut down. It is a prodigious sight, with more than 80,000 perennials flowering their socks off.
Over the whole extent of the parterre I planted a web of tall grasses that, once mature, will act like a network of tenacious roots. In fact they are a representation of the River Trent and all its tributaries, stretched over the garden like a net.
This giant parterre is flanked by two long borders designed by Piet Oudolf. They have the subtle colouring and mastery of texture that is his hallmark. Even more compelling is his new planting at the main entrance. It is a perfect antidote to the gargantuan formality of the Victorian garden.”
To the east of the garden, and running parallel with the river Trent, a significant new garden has been created by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. Piet has created a distinctive, fresh 3ha floral prairie and a vast naturalistic meadow using 60,000 perennials and shrubs. The planting was completed in spring 2007 and has already established well.
Tom Stuart –Smith writes:
“By the lake, and liable to periodic flooding, is a wet meadow planted with interweaving swathes of two contrasting varieties of moor grass — Molinia subsp. caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’ and the taller ‘Heidebraut’, punctuated with clusters of brightly coloured meadow plants such as Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’, Astilbe chinensis ‘Vision in Pink’ and Iris ensata.
This leads on to a taller perennial meadow that Oudolf describes as “having a pattern like the neck of a giraffe”. Quiet grassy corners are made for relaxing and picnicking. It is a seductive, free-flowing composition unlike anything Oudolf has done in this country before.”
Michael Walker, Garden Manager of The Trentham Estate, writes:
“Piet and Tom have together created displays that demonstrate the progression of contemporary design and extremely good planting which I strongly believe will be seen as an iconic partnership in the years to come.”
Other areas of interest include, a series of 12 interconnected show gardens demonstrating innovative horticultural ideas (and some of them done in cooperation with local schools and groups), a ‘Field of Hope’ displaying 60,000 daffodils; and more than 162ha of woodland that are available to explore with self guided trails and two hidden bird hides.
Britain’s first “Barfuss” or Barefoot Walk is inviting visitors to take off their shoes, to walk on different surfaces and to have a new “touch” added to their garden visit.
Since Easter 2008 the garden maze is an intriguing new feature for all visitors. A David Austin “English Rose Border” along of the Trellis Walk has been introduced recently and an Edible Flower Garden will wait for visitors and connoisseurs.
The project continues to develop with a new tea room that will open at the start of the new season in 2009 with opportunities for bespoke design and engaging sculpture ever present.
A major new landscape plan for the western gardens will be introduced from 2009 to 2012.
The Trentham Estate
Trentham Leisure Ltd
Stoke – on – Trent
Staffordshire ST4 8AX
Garden open every day, except for Christmas Day as follows:
Gardens and Adventure Play:
9am to 6pm (End of April – September)
10am to 4pm (October – End of April)
Lakeside and Woodland Walks:
8am to 8pm or 1 hour before dusk
Admission Prices (special tickets available, e.g. outside main season):
Single Adult /Main season £ 11.25
Child 5-15yrs / Main season £ 9.60
Disabled /Main season £ 5.75
Family Ticket / Main season £ 39.00 (max 2 Adults plus up to 3 Children)
Child under 5 FREE (limited to 2 free places per each paying adult)
For group bookings, joint tickets etc. see website
Free entry to lakeside and Woodland Walks
Events, programme, exhibitions:
A great number of workshops, guided tours, plant sales and other during the year. See website for details.
- Shop: Home and garden products in the Trentham Garden Centre. Great variety of outlets in The Shopping Village
- Tea Room/ Restaurant: Licensed Garden Tea Room in the Italian Garden. Lakeside Café situated at the south of the lake. Many other food outlets in the Shopping Village and Garden Centre
- Hotel: Premier Inn on site 119 bedrooms
- WC: Disabled toilets in the shopping village (x 2 locations), garden centre, Gardens and Adventure Play. Toilets located throughout the estate, shopping village, restaurants and gardens.
- Parking: Free parking
- Seats and benches: Yes
- Average visitor duration: 3- 4 hours
- Accessibility in the Gardens: Good thinly dressed gravel surfaces. Some steep slopes and steps in the garden, but most areas of the garden accessible to all. Wheelchairs are available with deposit from the Gardens Entrance.
Children’s programme/ events or other educational activities:
Adventure Playground situated inside the Italian Garden. Also Woodland Discovery Trail and Monkey Forest (entrance fee). Also special events for children. See website for details.
New supported schools and family activity programmes available.
Maps of sites/ visitor information:
Visitors will receive a new map leaflet for the garden. Guide book etc. on sale at the entrance.
Signage on site and on selected plants:
Interpretation on site – directional, health and safety guidance. Info on garden improvements and new plantings by Tom Stuart Smith and Piet Oudolf. Some historical information.
No dogs are allowed in the Gardens & Adventure Play, with the exception of Guide Dogs and other registered support dogs. All dogs must be kept on a lead in the rest of the Estate at all times.
How to get there:
Trentham is one of the gardens working together in the Heart of England. The beautiful countryside of Staffordshire and its neighbouring counties is a wonderful setting for an outstanding variety of garden design, traditional and contemporary.
For more information please visit the website of Great Gardens UK.