The final installment in my monthly series looking at how the gardens at Trentham change throughout the year.
The garden has gone full circle passing through the seasons. We began last January when the gardens were in the throes of winter and finish off in December in another winter.
As we crossed the River Trent on the suspension bridge we got a good view of the golden “River of Grasses” through the two trunks of a multi-stemmed Birch, our native Betula pendula. In all or our previous monthly wanders we turned right at the bottom of the bridge into this huge area of grasses. For our December wanderings we turned left partly because we fancied a change but mostly because we spotted a willow word.
The gravel path took us beneath tall, ancient trees both deciduous and evergreen. Up in one we were surprised again to find a fairy looking down at us watching our every move.
When we reached the willow NOEL we spotted a row of willow stars further along the path .
On one old trunk where a large bough had been cut off nature had been at work with her army of fungi to eat away at the rotting wood, and thereby creating a piece of relief sculpture. Can you spot a figure emerging?
After this little diversion from our usual route we retraced our footsteps to explore Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses. Here a few seed heads stood against all odds having withstood the ravages of early winter.
I have enjoyed seeing how the Betula nigra are looking on each of our monthly visits. The texture and colour of their peeling bark catches the light whatever the time of day or time of year.
By passing through the avenue of Birches we found ourselves in Piet Oudolf’s prairie style borders, where so many different seed heads stood strong and proud.
We enjoyed seeing how the gardeners had tied up some of the tallest of the old stems. We decided there and then to give it a go in our own patch.
Where some of the herbaceous plants had been cut back by the gardening team, new growth of the freshest green has burst through and waits patiently for the Spring to come along. The cut down grasses however remain dormant, but without doubt within their sheaths new spears of green are making moves.
Tiny vestiges of colour remained to surprise us, please us and amaze us.
Before we left the prairie borders we looked back for the final time in 2014.
We discovered new things at Trentham even this late in the year – a set of beautifully crafted wooden garden benches complete with meaningful phrases composed by local writers from Stoke-on-Trent’s past alongside a couple from the two great garden designers involved in Trentham Garden’s rebirth, Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith.
Read and enjoy P O’s words of wisdom – words which express the power of these amazing gardens.
And reflections on the gardens from Tom Stuart-Smith ……….
“What was once a scene of decay is now a breathtaking panorama of beauty.”
There are two phrases from Arnold Bennet, a local 19th Century writer,
“You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”
“It is easier to go down hill than up but the view is from the top.”
The final two phrases were written much earlier by Capability Brown, 18th Century landscape designer and his contemporary John Bing, Viscount Torrington who owned Trentham at that time. John Bing wrote
“My old friend L Brown is to be traced at every turn……………. and a judicious former of water; the lake, here, is very fine”
Brown himself wrote,
“………. from its edges “quite round, making them everywhere correspond naturally with the ground on each side.”
A new phase of work is just starting to restore some of the early Capability grounds.
The old formal Italianate gardens that link the two main gardens had been replanted with seasonal bedding plants.
In part two of our posts sharing our December visits to the wonderful gardens at Trentham, we move on to the gardens designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and see how they look as the year ends.