So here we are back for the September visit to the wonderful gardens at Trentham. We arrived in bright sunshine which was a big change to the usual weather on our visits here. Usually we get wet but today looked set fair with blue sky with just a scattering of white clouds. As we walked over the bridge into the gardens we looked down into the River Trent below to see it swollen with floodwater and carrying much dirt in its wake. The water of the Trent flowed brown and the grasses of Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses refleced this colour.
Moving into Oudolf’s Prairie there was much more variety in the colours although grasses remained powerful elements. The tall herbaceous perennials were showing deepening colours as autumn approaches. Rich rubies, purples and blues were, in places, lit up by the crisp white of the Seleniums and sunny yellows of Solidago.
Leaving the subtle but at the same time exciting Prairie we wandered off towards the Italian Garden with its traditional style of planting. We passed through a Hornbeam tunnel where the autumnal light played with shadows. Leaving its coolness our eyes were assaulted by Begonias and brightly leaved bananas.
We always look forward to our first glimpse of the delights that await us in Tom Stuart-Smith’s Italianate parterres. Looking from the balustrade the view spread out below in the geometric beds promised so much of interest, while a quick glance below showed bursts of red Dahlias and yellow Rudbeckias.
Once down among the many beds we soon discovered just what flowers were giving us the colourful sights.
These colours were enriched all the more by the russets and chocolates of the grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Phlomis and Verbascums.
We reluctantly left the Tom S-S plantings behind us and ambled off through the tall trees of the old parkland towards the display gardens. We glanced at the early autumn colours of Prunus trees between the silver bark of the trunks of Betula. Some Betula trunks were showing their great age and their textures contrasted strongly with their younger smoother neighbours.
Rhus trees were showing deep orange foliage which matched the petals of a lovely Dahlia.
Elsewhere another Rhus partnered a red leaved Cotinus. Coloured glass leaves atop silver stems added more colour close by.
White and purple spires of Actaea caught the light.
In the Allotment Garden orange globes of pumpkins were drying in the sun and heat of this Indian Summer.
After a light lunch we made our way towards the Rose Walk to see how things had changed since our visit last month. We passed back through some of the Tom S-S borders where we were drawn for a closer look towards the long thin seed pods of Amsonias.
Seedheads and dying flower heads of many different perennials and grasses were so enthralling that our walk back through these borders took rather longer than anticipated.
A long line of thin rectangular borders designed by Piet Oudolf act as a link between the Tom S-S garden and the Rose Walk. Here colour abounded.
In the Rose Walk itself most rose bushes were still in flower and tall flowers such as Cleome and Verbena bonariensis added even more colour.
We enjoyed the views from the Rose Walk back towards Oudolf’s Prairie and River of Grasses. We could also see the shrubs growing alongside it including a spectacular deciduous Euonymous with orange and red fruits.
So this Indian Summer we are enjoying provided us with great light to view the gardens at Trentham but the strange seasons mean that many perennials and grasses were far more autumnal than we could have expected. Next month’s return to Trentham may well show Trentham to be well in the grip of Autumn.
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