New team for one of England’s top gardens

Staffordshire’s Trentham Estate, one of England’s most popular paid-forgardens, is gearing up for a new season with a new top team – and a vision to build on its historic legacy with contemporary designs to create one of the country’s leading ‘horticultural jewels’.

Taking over the reigns of shaping one of the nation’s leading historical garden regenerations are new garden development manager Carol Adams and garden operation manager Paul Legeckis.

Together with the 14-strong in-house gardens team at Trentham, on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent, they are planning the next stage in the development of this former showpiece country estate, which was bought in 1996 bySt. Modwen Properties PLC – the expert developer and regeneration specialist – and transformed in a £100 million regeneration project.

Last year saw the 15thanniversary of the former Dukes of Sutherland gardens and parkland re-opening to the public – and the Estate now attracts more than three million visitors a year,with 837,500 paid visits to Trentham Gardens alone, an impressive accolade for a once abandoned garden.

Dubbed “the gardens makeover of the decade” for its 10th anniversary, a new five-year plan for Trentham Gardensaims to build on that contemporary regeneration to create new horticultural and leisure highlights for visitors.

Still continuing to innovate, Trentham has lined-up major projects including planting hundreds of native species, a bigger than ever Spring Bulb Festival, an increased focus on biodiversity and new renovation works in one of the finest Italianate gardens outside of Italy.

Over the last 15 years, Trentham’s celebrated landscapes – created by two of the county’s finest historic garden designers, Capability Brown and Charles Barry – have been restored and given contemporary twists by some of today’s top garden designers, including Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf, as well as more recently Nigel Dunnett, perhaps best-known for the stunning wildflower plantings at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This year will see the start of a four-year renovation project in the Italian Garden aimed at slowly bringing the famous garden back to its original Tom Stuart-Smith design. At the time, the reinvention of Charles Barry’s monumental lakeside garden was one of Europe’s largest examples of contemporary naturalistic perennial planting, set within a Victorian Italianate parterre and overlooking Capability Brown’s mile-long lake. Fifteen years on, Tom Stuart-Smith will be back working with Trentham’s garden team on new planting and designs.

Another big theme over this next five-year period will be a strong focus on developing the Estate’s biodiversity, including further expansion of pollinator-friendly immersive planting schemes. Along with celebrating the legacy from the 1700s heyday of Brown and of Barry’s garden designs of the 1800s, more recent legacies are set to bloom too.

Over the last five years hundreds of Magnolias, Witch Hazels, Euonymus, Stewartia and Cornus have been planted along with hundreds of thousands of perennials and bulbs in the contemporary plantings around the lake and woodland. As well as colourful visual displays, fragrant varieties have been picked to create scent from both flowers and foliage.

Following 2019’s inaugural event, this year’s Spring Bulb Festival – expected to be at its best in April and May – will be an even bigger display with thousands of extra bulbs. And while spring colour has always been in vogue at Trentham, for 2020 it’s also going to be about the fragrances, filling the award-winning garden with the sights and smells of spring.

Working towards its long-term vision of further restoring and developing the site to broaden the range of visitor experiences, 2020 will also see extensive tree planting introducing new groves of autumn foliage species, and the restoration of islands within the lake, with a strong focus on supporting habitat conservation.

Fittingly for a pleasure park known as the ‘Playground of the Potteries’ in the 1930s, new, or revamped, adventure playgrounds and exciting play facilities are planned, while innovative visitor experiences, such as the Fairy Trail of wire sculptures, and wildlife sculptures throughout the parkland, continue to expand.

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