Wild-flowers and fairies
I visited Trentham Gardens on a bright and sunny February day with gentle winds, a truly rare occurrence this winter. The lake sparkled like shifting diamonds on a sieve and slanting light from the low sun highlighted the gold and buff tones of the grasses.
Giant dandelion clocks have been planted since I last visited making me feel very small and fairy like next to them. They glisten in the sunshine and appear to move and sway with individual seeds dislodging themselves in the breeze.
The grand scale Capability Brown landscape lies underneath subsequent historical layers of development. Like lamina of acetate, they sit on top of the original layout, each new phase of revolutionary planting demonstrating the latest trends in garden design, horticulture and ecology.
In August and September Piet Oudolf’s distinctive prairie planting of perennials and grasses explode into glorious rivulets of texture, colour and sound. Now in winter, shadows of their former selves, the drifts lie dormant and await the warmth and long heady days of summer.
Tom Stuart-Smith’s contemporary naturalistic planting combines the formality of the Victorian Italianate parterre with soft grasses and perennials, punctuated by the strong verticals of yew, spilling and frothing from the elegant evergreen structure.
Now to the newest layer: a contemporary wild-flower meadow on the banks of the lake. My memories from last summer come flooding back. From a distance the haze of colour made me catch my
breath. How can something so delicate and small have such a huge impact? I was immediately transported back in time to childhood storybooks where fields and woods were always full of fairies and flowers.
Inspired by the planting at the Olympic Park, and in conjunction with Pictorial Meadows and Nigel Dunnett from Sheffield University, the meadow will be re-seeded and expanded much to the to delight of Trentham’s many visitors.
This is garden without a house. The remaining ruins of the former Trentham Hall project a romantic sadness with a shady past into this wild and windswept space. Yet the garden is spiritually uplifting, connecting the visitor with nature. Standing on the lawn where the house once stood I am immersed in the scale of the landscape, I am the landscape. I love this place.
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