We have now reached the penultimate posting in this series where we have been looking at how Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire have changed through the months during 2014. Since our last visit in September Autumn has taken a strong grip on the gardens. Many leaves have taken on their auutmn hues and many have fallen. But it is amazing how much colour there still is to enjoy, colours in late flowers, dried stems and seed heads.
We always cross over the gently arching suspension footbridge over the River Trent full of anticipation. On our visit in early November we were presented with a sea of yellows, where Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses had been transformed by the passage of time into a river of liquid gold.
We wandered along the gravel path as it cut through the line of River Birch, Betula nigra in search of Oudolf’s prairie borders. These beautiful trees had already shed all their leaves but still drew our eyes as their bark was peeling and curling decoratively away from their trunks.
Once in amongst the prairie planting we immediately noticed that seed heads in every hue of brown and beige and bright patches of late colour had joined the lemons, mustards and golds of the grasses. Pale purples glowed in the dull light of autumn. This glow is their secret weapon to attract moths and other night flying pollinators.
The gardening team were hard at working replanting a section of one of the borders. It must be a never ending task. I suppose it gives them the chance to keep improving things as well as keeping the gardens in top condition.
Deep pinks and cerise of the Persicarias and the Knautias catch the eye of every visitor. They look so good against the neutral shades that dominate gardens in the autumn.
This lovely old Tulip Tree caught our attention. It is the oldest of its kind we have ever seen and a notice close by warned of the danger of falling branches. It must be susceptible to winter storms but should it fall it would make a wonderful natural bridge over the Trent. The dome of Hornbeam over a bench is now a golden dome.
We made our way towards the formally planted Italian Parterre Garden, passing through an archway of Hornbeams on the way. Sunlight penetrated the coniferous plantings casting long shadows and creating bright patches. It lit up the little low box hedges of the knot garden.
The summer bedding in the parterre has been consigned to the compost heaps and winter/spring plants has taken their place, primulas and a deep red Bellis perennis.
We always enjoy our first look out over the Tom Stuart-Smith gardens. We were not to be disappointed today.
The autumn light emphasised the texture on this bronze sculpture and on the much newer tunnel archway which marks the way into the display gardens. It gave an all new look to the low slate walls around one of these gardens too. It again emphasised the texture but brought out extra colours too. The light similarly added colour to the plants and to the glass panels featured in another of the display gardens.
A wander back through the Stuart-Smith gardens gave us the chance to see the planting in a different light. As the afternoon had progressed the sun dropped down lower and was back-lighting the plants, giving a very different perspective.
The Rose Walk was still remarkably colourful with Roses, Cleomes and Verbena bonariensis still putting on strong performances. Butterflies and bees were still busy here too, the blooms having attracted them as they emerged hunting for sustenance as the temperatures rose slightly in the afternoon sunlight. You can see our long shadows cast across the border.
From the long metal pergola we looked back over the Oudolf gardens and at the shrubs nearby and the butter yellow leaves of the Wisteria climbing over the framework.
Now we can look forward to our final visit to Trentham for this year in readiness to publish the final episode in this series of posts. So far we have determined that gardens at Trentham are worthy of a visit any month of the year. Let us hope our December visit confirms it.