A visit to Staffordshire’s Trentham Gardens is always a colourful experience between the months of October and November.
Boasting a “rediscovered” Capability Brown parkland, a mile-long lake and award-winning gardens, Trentham has – for more than a decade – been one of the best places in the whole of The Midlands for visitors to head to at this time of the year.
But the introduction of one of the largest pictorial meadows planting schemes in any historic landscape in the country over the last couple of years has done much to improve its autumnal appeal still further.
Of all the places in Britain to visit for a spot of leaf-peeping, few can now compete with the dramatic floor-to-ceiling range of autumnal colours on offer at Trentham Gardens. The woodland trees, reflected in the lake, are just one element of the seasonal show that is complemented every year by The Rivers of Grass – a breathtaking prairie garden landscape of grasses and vast herbaceous perennials designed by Dutch gardening guru, and Chelsea gold-medal winner, Piet Oudolf.
But the iconic perennial plantings of Oudolf and fellow Chelsea gold medalist Tom Stuart-Smith – along with Trentham’s own team – has also been expanded by the introduction of some eye-catching perennial and annual meadows, designed and planted by a third Chelsea gold medalist Nigel Dunnett who needs little introduction to the nation’s horticultural fraternity.
Best known, perhaps, for his role in the plantings at London’s Queen Elizabeth Park, Dunnett is now heavily involved in implementing a new range of plantings throughout Trentham Gardens.
Having provided a stunning swathe of colour since the summer the lakeside areas, for example, will continue to offer rich displays while the flowers slowly fade and the foliage tints.
Elsewhere, mellow tinted grasses offer a staggering impact, alongside the vast perennial displays throughout the garden. And a collection of Japanese Cherries, recently introduced to the western gardens, is now starting to deliver yet more colour to the gardens.
Other trees, chosen with autumn in mind, have been added to enhance the lakeside woodland walk, including 150-plus North American trees.
Some of the new tree planting will take time to light-up the skies at Trentham, but amongst the current natural appeal of Trentham at this time of year are the colours of the magnificent mature Oaks and other trees reflected in the lake – with the wonderful backdrop of Kings Wood Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which Capability Brown included in his landscape.
Admission prices to the gardens up to October 29 start from £10.12 online for an adult, (£8.64 concessions and children). Family tickets for two adults and three children (£39.00 on the gate, and £35.10 online) are also available. Reduced admission prices will apply from October 30.
For further information about The Trentham Estate, visit http://www.trentham.co.uk/trentham-gardens.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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