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Capability Brown's Map

Estate Restoration Project

Restoration of ‘Capability’ Brown landscape

We are creating a lasting landscape legacy to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the run up to 2016, which will see the nation celebrate 300 years since his birth.

As a continuance of restoration of the estate’s important historical landscape, we are revitalising Brown’s influence at Trentham in time for the 300 year celebration. We have restored the connection between the upper west side of the lake and the 18th century parkland, opening up vistas to the park.

This restored views to Kings Wood, reveal Brown’s original landscape and expose in all their splendour, the historic Red Woods, and a number of Brownian age trees in the area between the amphitheatre and park.

Work commenced in late October 2013 with encouragement and financial support from FERA and the Forestry Commission to remove all the invasive Rhododendron ponticum as it carried the disease Phytophera ramorum.  Larch trees, also carriers of the disease were also removed at the same time with this phase of the
The project has been undertaken with enthusiastic support from English Heritage, Stafford Borough Council and following a nature survey conducted by Staffordshire Ecological Services.

Work commenced in late October 2013 with encouragement and financial support from FERA and the Forestry Commission to remove all the invasive Rhododendron ponticum as it carried the disease Phytophera ramorum.

The project has been undertaken with enthusiastic support from English Heritage, Stafford Borough Council.

The project ties in beautifully with the Capability Brown 300 festivities which will celebrate the 300th birthday of the iconic man responsible for naturalising England’s designed landscapes.

Trentham will mark this important event by doing what we have done elsewhere in the garden - understand the past to influence the future and present this in an informed and contemporary way.  The main gardens have been enhanced by vast perennial displays created by Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf and the work around the lake (and elsewhere) aims to find contemporary solutions to enhance and provide a sustainable solution for Trentham’s long term management.

Progress to date has focused on revealing Browns landscape, now complete, which involved removing all the diseased wild Rhododendron and removing the trees which obscured the connection between Browns Parkland (West) and his Lake. This work is complete - we recently also discovered a Georgian Ice House and have redefined the Ha Ha and separated the park from the garden with about 1km of Georgian metal fencing - the park will be grazed in due course.

We are working with Nigel Dunnett to create rich new plantings - mainly perennial and annual meadows and woodland plantings but also trees and shrubs.  The plantings will relate to the areas they are planted - i.e. shade loving perennials in the west woods and meadows in the sunnier areas to the west. We have already sewn a 10,000m2 annual meadow and introduced some perennial trails which will help inform our creation of the new plantings we will introduce early 2016 and following years.

Annual Meadow

The annual meadow was sewn in May 2015 with a range of seed including Shirley and Californian Poppies, Cornflower, Fairy Toad Flax, Tickseed, Larkspur and Delphinium which will produce stunning and changing displays through until late October.  The display will start with whites, blues, pinks and reds, turning to reds, orange and yellow in the autumn.

Woodland Perennial Planting

Our future vision includes adding a sequence of different spatial experiences along the west woodland with vast and contemporary wild flower plantings by Nigel Dunnett, of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park fame, along the lakeside. The following plants have recently been trailed within the west woodland;

• Magnolias - various forms
• Aster divaricatus - white wood aster
• Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’
• Hosta ‘Blue Cadet’
• Phlox divaricata ‘White Perfume’
• Tiarella cordifolia - foam flower
• Cardiocrinum giganteum giant - Himalayan lily

The newly open parkland has been enclosed with a Georgian style metal fence and will allow us to introduce grazing, typical of Brownian landscapes and has given us the opportunity to reinvigorate the Barefoot Walk and enhance play and trail experiences.

You can find out more about Brown and the continuing restoration of the Estate by downloading a leaflet or reading the ’Capability’ Brown blog.

Get in touch about the ‘Capability’ Brown restoration project

If you would like any further details or have any feedback on the restoration project at Trentham please e-mail enquiry@trentham.co.uk. Alternatively you can contact Michael Walker, our Head of Garden and Estate via Trentham Management Suite (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday) or telephone 01782 657341 (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday).

(Capability Brown’s Map from 1759, courtesy of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service).